Rusty Rhapsody

Rustler's Rhapsody Directed by Hugh Wilson At the Sack Charles

IT SHOULD HAVE been obvious from the billing. "Rex O'Herihan," pronounced the ad for Rustler's Rhapsody. "To a lawless land he brought truth, justice, and some wonderful outfits." Okay, so the ad wasn't funny. Maybe the movie would be. Funny is just a frame of mind.

Rustler's Rhapsody is an old-west camp comedy that slowly unfolds the tale of Rex(Tom Berenger) and his sidekick Pete (G.W. Bailey). Rex travels the desert looking for bad guys in black hats to gunfight. He never kills them; he just shoots the guns out of their hands. (Guns don't kill people; guns kill guns.) Rex, because he is a good guy, always wins. But the bad guys, because they are let off, always come back. Ad infinitam. It is Rex's karma. An endless circle. Yin-yang, Yawn.

Finally, the bad guys think of a way to defeat Rex. Since good guys can't be defeated, the bad guys hire a good guy to defeat Rex. Tension. Which guy is the most good? Rex begins to question his goodness because of his sexuality (or lack thereof). Rex realizes that he has never had a girl, and wonders if he's gay. Meanwhile, the audience wonders why this movie was made.

There is not one honest, blue-collar type laugh in all of Rustler's Rhapsody. Director Hugh Wilson presents us with such a ridiculous wild west world that the movie becomes too stupid to be funny. Wilson interjects too many anachronisms into the dialogue and uses too many stupid sight gags. "I hold a copyright on that one," asserts Rex upon finding Pete singing by the fire. In another scene Rex and Pete fall off a cliff. Then we get to see Rex's horse dance. After a while--long about 20 minutes--the jokes wear thin.

Andy Griffith gives a suitable hokey performance as a misguided bad guy and Patrick Wayne displays a suitable honesty as the misguided good guy that the bad guys hire. There's not much to work with, though. The characters are two-dimensional, which makes things difficult for the actros and deadly dull for the audience.


Perhaps the humorless simplicity of the movie lies in the fact that it was rated PG. The makers of the movie tried to cater to the child audience and the older crowd, but they sacrificed basic, good B-moviemaking in the process. Rustler's Rhapsody tries to sell itself so hard that it sells itself short. The wild west madcap parody is a building block which just cannot support such a deadweight movie. Without more, Rustler's Rhapsody becomes about as funny as a herd of cattle in Spurr, Texas.