Thursday, January 1, 2009

Film Review: MACSHAYNE: WINNER TAKES ALL (1994, E.W. Swackhamer)

Stars: 3 of 5.
Running Time: 100 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Kenny Rogers, Terry O' Quinn (John Locke on TV's LOST and THE STEPFATHER), Barry Newman (THE LIMEY and VANISHING POINT), Wendy Phillips (TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL, BIG LOVE, and MACSHAYNE: THE FINAL ROLL OF THE DIE).
Tag-line: "Kenny Rogers is MacShayne. A man who knows when to hold 'em, and knows when to fold 'em."
Best one-liner: "MacShayne!"

"If you wanna continue to blame me for what happened with you and your wife, go ahead. If it makes you feel better. But you need to stop thinking that everyone out here is a cheat and a liar. You know, Andy, I wasn't the only one she came on to. SHE WENT FOR EVERYTHING THAT MOVED. And in your heart, you know that. Did you ever start to think that you might be better off without her?"

Damn! That MacShayne doles out the harsh truths! Kenny Rogers IS MacShayne, and this film is directed by tv-movie maestro E.W. Swackhamer. I imagine this movie was conceived by a TV-screenwriter (in actuality, Michael Gleason, creator of REMINGTON STEELE) who fell asleep one night with the T.V. on. First, OCEAN'S 11 was on. It was followed by a DR. QUINN, MEDICINE WOMAN and WALKER, TEXAS RANGER marathon. The screenwriter subconsciously absorbed some of this material. Groggy and bleary-eyed the next morning, he had the compulsion to write. And this is what he wrote- it's exactly what you would imagine. But there's some good stuff going on. There's a MIDI-synth-heavy soundtrack with lots of 'Western zest' flavor, there's VANISHING POINT's Barry Newman and LOST's Terry O'Quinn (both imbuing their roles with WAY more pathos than was required; Terry making his villain, like THE STEPFATHER, frustrated and sympathetic),

There's really awkward transitions and montage sequences that beg a return to film school, and there's a fantastic moralizing scene where MacShayne foils Terry O'Quinn's evil plans by raising the self-esteem of one of his cogs via an anonymous phone call ("Sheldon, you are doing a wonderful job."). And then it all ends on a freeze frame.

The instant you underestimate MacShayne, talk about how lame he is, and how you're gonna beat him at cards- BOOM! There he is, looking all self-satisfied. And then you're like 'Why you look so self-satisfied, MacShayne?" And he's like, "Cause I foiled your plans." And then you look behind your shoulder and damned if your plans aren't foiled.

Three stars of zany TV movie fun and kiddie-level Mamet. If you like it, be sure to check out MACSHAYNE: THE FINAL ROLL OF THE DICE.

-Sean Gill

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