In debt to the mob and in need of a new money making scheme to save his skin, greedy grind-house film producer, Max Barber, (Robert Deniro) decides to produce a dangerous new film, all for the sake of killing his lead actor in a stunt so he can rake in the insurance money. But when he casts Duke Montana, (Tommy Lee Jones) an aging, washed up movie star as the lead, Max never expects the depressed old drunk to be revitalized by being in front of the camera again. Unable to kill Duke in a basic stunt, Max ups the stakes, putting Duke into ever more dangerous situations. And as Duke survives stunt after stunt, Max unwittingly starts making the best movie of his career. A cross between "Get Shorty" and "The Producers," THE COMEBACK TRAIL is a fun journey through the underbelly of Hollywood. Littered with a cast of unforgettable and outrageous characters, it will have you giggling.
Although the film pokes broad fun at Hollywood movies and especially westerns from past eras, it specifically references The Searchers (1956): the character played by Duke Montana (Tommy Lee Jones) in 'The Oldest Gun In The West' is said to be "one-eight Cherokee", a reference to the character played by Jeffrey Hunter in The Searchers who was also one-eight Cherokee; German actors play the Native Americans, which is probably a jab at The Searchers where the Native American chief was infamously played by German-born Henry Brandon (who played many Native American characters in his career); and near the end, when the car drives past a church, the famous closing shot of The Searchers (a sun-lit door opening filmed from inside a dark area) is used. See more »
IN A NUTSHELL:
With a powerhouse cast, this comedy pokes fun at the film industry itself. A movie producer who is mixed up with the mob tries to use an aging movie star in an insurance scam, but the plot thickens...The fun movie is directed by George Gallo. He also wrote the screenplay with Josh Posner based on a 1982 film by Harry Hurwitz. The movie premiered at the 2020 Mill Valley Film Festival. Other than the language, I was extremely entertained.
TIPS FOR PARENTS:
Profanity, including sooo many F-bombs both spoken and written
People in perilous situations
"You have to be what you are. No apology." - Duke Montana (Tommy Lee Jones)
THINGS I LIKED:
The stellar cast includes several Academy Award winners and nominees like Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Emile Hirsch, Tommy Lee Jones, Zach Braff (I loved him in Scrubs- Seasons 1-6), Malcolm Barrett, Patrick Muldoon, Kate Katzman, and so many more Extras who all do a great job. There is great chemistry on screen.
One scene was so touching, a horse shed a tear. True story. ha ha
There's a female director in the movie who says that she hopes her work will inspire more women to get into filmmaking.
It's a lot of fun to watch some of these old movie stars working together and dazzling at what they do best. The last time we saw some of these legends together was the 2013 Last Vegas. What's amazing is that Robert De Niro, Tommy Lee Jones, and Morgan Freeman are equally effective in drama films as they are in comedies. Agism is real in Hollywood, just like in most industries nowadays, so I love that they're able to pump out movies in their 70s and 80s. All of their movies haven't been huge hits, but I always enjoy their performances.
The action sequences are hilarious.
You'll end the movie with a smile on your face.
I've always gotten a kick out of the premise of a film made inside a film.
The length of the movie is perfect and doesn't overstay its welcome.
THINGS I DIDN'T LIKE:
It takes a little while to get going but becomes immediately entertaining when Tommy Lee Jones works his magic on the silver screen.
The original movie was set in the 1970s, but this one doesn't focus very much on that era.
Stereotypes of American Indians and African-Americans.
The movie poster is way too busy.
You can see the rest of my review on my Movie Review Mom YouTube channel or website.
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