In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_xkcnr9xvmtfrsuehmlm5ql5urdn

Make Your Move

With camerawork and editing that allows us to truly enjoy the footwork of its stars, "Make Your Move" is a vibrant, fun dance movie.

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Blog Archives
Other Articles
Far Flunger Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives

Reviews

Man and Boy

  |  

Bill Cosby has a marvelously open, easy, honest presence, and there are times in "Man and Boy" when he reminds you of Will Rogers on film.

But that isn't quite enough. The movie lacks structure and discipline, and we're left hanging too often while plot points are shoveled in. After a while, it looks like Cosby is waiting, too, and a shoot-out at the movie's end doesn't redeem all the time-killing that went before.

The story is a pleasant enough example of that most ancient of all genres, the picaresque journey. Cosby plays a black farmer who owns 14 acres in the West, has settled on them after the Civil War and hopes to live out his life there. He and his son nurse a horse back to life and are given the horse as a gift. But the horse is stolen. So the man and boy set out to find him.

Before they leave, there are some nice domestic scenes with the man's wife (Gloria Foster), and some unexplained gun raids on their cabin; either we're just supposed to accept that black farmers get shot at routinely, or part of the early plot was dropped. Anyway, after the journey begins there is a big fight scene, a low-key semi-love scene (between Cosby and a lonely Indian widow), a horse-roping scene, and the shoot-out.

I have never quite been able to understand how people can just set off and track a horse. Sure, they know the horse thief is headed for Mexico -- but that isn't like catching up with him on the Interstate. The Southwest in 1871 wasn't exactly filled with road signs, or roads, but (sure enough) the man and boy hit the right trail.

The thing is, they keep running into people whose stories have to be explained before the movie can continue. There's a fine performance by Douglas Turner Ward as Lee Christmas, a mean old killer -- but why should the last third of the movie be concerned with his feud with a sheriff? Cosby and his son tend to get pushed from screen center.

The movie is fun in a low-key way, though, and it works as the family entertainment Cosby intended. More discipline in script and direction would have helped, and so would a deeper understanding of the Cosby personality. It's hard to see him as a violent, hard-hitting, tough cowboy; in a long and exhausting fight scene with Yaphet Kotto we never believe for a moment that Cosby is winning. Why do heroes have to win to be heroes, anyway? Cosby's writing and his monologs stress more durable virtues than the short-range victory, but he's gotten trapped by Western conventions.

Popular Blog Posts

Hashtag Activism and the #CancelColbert campaign

The recent #CancelColbert campaign on Twitter raises all kinds of issues about racism, but also about hashtag activism.

One Year Later: Richard Roeper on Roger

Richard Roeper reflects on his long friendship and professional association with Roger Ebert.

For the love of it: notes on the decline of Entertainment Weekly, the firing of Owen Gleiberman, and the ongoing end of an era

Owen Gleiberman's sacking as lead film critic of Entertainment Weekly — part of a ritual bloodletting of staffers at ...

An amazing video: 1,001 Movies You Must See (Before You Die)

Jonathan Keogh presents an exuberant video about the movies.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus