Though this slick-looking paean to down-home values often undercuts its own message, Warner Bros.' "Pure Country" is an effective vehicle for amiable C&W star George Strait. Rex McGee's screenplay mingles corn with knowing satire of the hollowness of stardom, but it's the heartfelt romantic chemistry between Strait and Texas ranch gal Isabel Glasser that carries the day. C&W fans should respond in OK numbers but the pic may have limited B.O. appeal beyond its target audience.

Though this slick-looking paean to down-home values often undercuts its own message, Warner Bros.’ “Pure Country” is an effective vehicle for amiable C&W star George Strait. Rex McGee’s screenplay mingles corn with knowing satire of the hollowness of stardom, but it’s the heartfelt romantic chemistry between Strait and Texas ranch gal Isabel Glasser that carries the day. C&W fans should respond in OK numbers but the pic may have limited B.O. appeal beyond its target audience.

Director Christopher Cain’s overly busy camerawork and his grandiose staging of concert scenes make “Pure Country” seem unambiguously glitzy at first, but when the disaffected singer takes it on the lam from his bus-and-truck caravan the pic takes a more intriguing critical slant on the subject.

Debuting scripter McGee, a protege of Billy Wilder, follows Wilder’s favorite theme of fraudulent role-playing. Strait’s Dusty feels like a sham in his gussied-up show and wants to get back to basics, while his desperate manager Lesley Ann Warren fools the public by hav-ing her new young stud (Kyle Chandler) lip-sync in his place.

Strait, who looks like a more wholesome version of the late Warren Oates, doesn’t have much acting range, but fits gently into his persona of good-natured cowboy angst. Though he doesn’t seem all that different when he goes natural from the way he plays it earlier, Strait is convincing as someone who would just as soon chuck it all to settle down on Glasser’s ranch.

Glasser’s freshly scrubbed, weatherbeaten beauty and forthright country charm stand in starkly loaded contrast to the twitchy, overheated neuroticism of Warren, who archly vamps it up in a role that cries out for Elizabeth Ashley to camp it up.

Supporting standouts include Rory Calhoun, amusing as Glasser’s grizzled grandfather who garrulously espouses the virtue of cowboy taciturnity; and John Doe, who solidly anchors the pic as Strait’s drummer and best buddy.

Cain and cameraman Richard Bowen are too fond of fancy long-focus lenses that flatten out the images, but their Texas locations have windblown simplicity.

Pure Country

(C&W musical comedy-drama--Color)

Production

A Warner Bros. release of a Jerry Weintraub production. Produced by Weintraub. Executive producer, R.J. Louis. Directed by Christopher Cain. Screenplay, Rex McGee.

Crew

Camera (Technicolor), Richard Bowen; aerial concert camera, Jerry Holway; editor, Jack Hofstra; additional editing, Robin Katz; music, Steve Dorff; production design, Jeffrey Howard; set decoration, Derek R. Hill; costume design; sound (Dolby), Andy Wiskes, Michael Minkler, Bob Beemer; stunt coordinator, Bobby J. Foxworth; associate producer, Susan Ekins; assistant director, Cliff Coleman; second unit director, Foxworth; casting, Sharon Howard-Field. Reviewed at United Artists Marketplace, Pasadena, Oct. 17, 1992. MPAA Rating: PG. Running time: 112 min.

With

Dusty Wyatt Chandler ... George Strait Lula Rogers ... Lesley Ann Warren Harley Tucker ... Isabel Glasser Buddy Jackson ... Kyle Chandler Earl Blackstock ... John Doe Ernest Tucker ... Rory Calhoun Grandma Ivy Chandler ... Molly McClure
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