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A classic tale of the little people vs the big 'uns. It is set in a
community that could be anywhere in rural North America under threat of
suburbanization, but happens to be Ontario. This could matter from a
box office point of view since it is sufficiently recognizable to
Americans as to not need to be seen as a Canadian film.
The soulful, moody score from guitarist Bill Frisell helps carry the film forward as the down-on-their luck band of battlers try to fight the rising tide as represented by the billionaire's dastardly son. Sonny Stanton is played so interestingly by Noam Jenkins that you end of sort of liking him anyway. My favorite scene focuses on him getting into deeper trouble losing tons of money at the track.
Lisa Ray and Rachael Leigh Cook fight for most delicious horse country babe. Ernie Hudson, Keith Carradine, David Alpay, and Joel Keller, among others, give character performances that provide a fun weft to the scheming warp of counter-scam mastermind played by an understated-but-credible Luke Kirby.
Proof that Canadian film can be fun, I greatly enjoyed this film!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The plot summary on IMDb for this film is more aspiration than
actuality. it's overstated and the film doesn't really match the
description. Although the film does have some humorous lines and some
horses, it is more of a drama than a comedy or western.
The acting, filming, and sound are all fine. The film has nice scenic locations and a solid cast of decent actors who seem to do their best with what they're given. Even the overall story had potential.
The major problem with this film is that the story elements aren't pulled together as well as they could be. There are multiple on-going story lines but none really go too deep. And, information seems to be missing. As such the film just felt very choppy; a bit of a story here and a bit of a story there and by the end you get a larger, albeit incomplete, picture. Kind of like using high quality silk to make a poorly woven fabric with a bunch of frayed ends.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This collection of competing clichés, pure stupidity and the bizarrely
frequent use of "the F word" is quite unintentionally amusing. Writer
Brad Smith and director Leonard Farlinger misfire with virtually
everything they try to do in this film. However, they flounder and
fumble so blatantly and hopelessly that you can have a decent laugh at
The movie begins with Ray Dokes (Luther Kirby) getting out of prison. The problems with the movie begin at the exact same moment because it appears that Ray is actually being released from high school detention. Add in the fact that Ray looks like one the murderers from In Cold Blood who's been time transported to the present day and that the character's emotional range stretches from glum to disappointed to apathetic and you can tell right away this film is going to stink on ice. Ray is picked up by an old friend of his father's, Pete Culpepper (Keith Carradine), a saccharinely stoic farmer who's constantly claiming to be poor, yet still has the financial wherewithal to have his own race horse. Pete even has his own foul mouthed hard ass of a jockey, Chrissie Nugent (Rachael Leigh Cook). Ray and Chrissie almost instantly start screwing each other, even though Ray still pines of Etta Parr (Lisa Ray), his old girlfriend before he went to prison. Etta is also losing her farm and considering that neither she nor Pete ever appear to do any farm work, it's not surprising they're in the same boat.
Our villain is the lazy, idiotically scheming Sonny Stanton (Noam Jenkins), who wants to buy Pete and Etta's land for a housing development and also hatches several different nefarious plans involving his wealthy father's race horses. I'm not going to go into any more detail on the plot of this thing because trying to make sense of it gives me a headache. This story is more poorly constructed than a Lincoln Log cabin assembled by a team of feral cats that have had all their legs amputated. Nothing that happens in this film makes a lick of sense.
But it's not only that All Hat is a terrible tale. It's also very badly told. Let me give you just one example. One of the most rudimentary techniques in storytelling is to build up the villain as a real, credible threat to your hero. The stronger and more imposing the bad guy, the greater the challenge posed to the good guy. It heightens the drama in the hero's struggle and makes his victory all the more satisfying. That is as basic as you can get for telling a good story. But these filmmakers not only ignore such fundamental principles, they go out of their way to do the exact opposite. Almost every minute Sonny Stanton is on screen, he's insulted, defied, undermined or humiliated by practically every other character. Even the comic relief supporting roles stand up to Sonny and make him look like a fool. That makes Sonny as menacing as a newborn lamb and sucks all the tension and excitement out of a movie that wasn't exactly going to be compelling in even the best case scenario.
Now Rachael Leigh Cook is cute as the dickens and well, I was trying to think of another positive element of All Hat but I got nothing'. So, unless you're psycho-sexually fixated on Miss Cook, you can only enjoy this film by making fun of it while you watch. I'd suggest you rent something else instead.
Saw this on Netflix streaming, pleasant enough small story, with budget
production values. Guitar music sound track, static camera angles,
stock dialog, stock acting. Filmed in Canada with mostly Canadian
"Are you an A-hole because you're rich, or are you rich because you're an A-hole?"
"Why can't we both get along?" "I'd settle for half of that, why don't you just get along?"
"I see you are all hat and no cattle." And that is where the title comes from, referring to the dishonest son of the rich horseman in a coma.
The movie comes across as more of a "made-for-TV" movie, but R-rated for language. In many ways similar to the 1999 movie with a horse-racing theme, "A Face to Kill For." I have been a Rachael Leigh Cook fan for a long time, I think she is the cutest thing in movies, and she is a fine actress also. Here she plays a hot-headed jockey, Chrissie Nugent.
There isn't a lot of benefit to describing the story line here, it involves honest farmers and horse people being badgered by a dishonest son of a horse owner. In the end the good guys come out smelling like roses, while the bad guy gets set up for a big FAIL. Not much to recommend unless you like the actors.
This is a thoroughly enjoyable movie that has something for almost
every one. Two beautiful women, lots of beautiful horses and some
really good acting. Add in the conflict between rich & poor or good and
evil and it's all there.
The fact that it's set in Ontario, my home, is a big bonus. I get so tired of movies made in Canada pretending to be some where in the US.
The fact that it was obviously shot in early Fall when the leaves are changing makes every outdoor scene a feast for the eyes and considering this is mainly an outdoor story that says a lot.
I went into this not knowing what to expect because I didn't look up the movie before seeing it. I watched it due to the strange name and it finished with me wanting more.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I don't know what to say about this movie. The first hour and ten
minutes were REALLY slow and boring. Twenty minutes in I kept asking
myself, "am I going to watch this thing?"
Then right at the 1:10 marker when Pauly said to Dean "don't ask questions Dean" it turned around, and became a good warm hearted comedy.
From there on, it was pretty good. If the whole movie was like that I'd rate it way higher. But watching a snooze fest for an hour and ten minutes isn't redeemed by 15 minutes of a good ending.
So, in the end, it wasn't even average, it was boring, then pretty good. I think a rating of 5 stars is generous.
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