Tall Tale is a lavishly produced, robustly entertaining Old West fantasy that is unlike anything else in recent memory. Pic is impressively larger than life, both in physical scale and heroic action. And while the pacing could be brisker during its slightly flabby midsection, it works its way up to a dandy crowd-pleasing climax.
Nick Stahl is well cast as Daniel Hackett, a plucky young farm boy. Scott Glenn is the darkly sinister villain of the piece, a black-hatted rogue who’s employed by business interests to gobble up all the homesteads in the territory. When Nick’s dad (Stephen Lang) refuses to sell, he’s nearly killed by a bad guy’s bullet. Nick takes off to parts unknown, hoping he can hide the deed to the family farm far from the greedy land-grabbers.
Magically, he finds himself transported to a sun-baked desert. And that’s where he meets Pecos Bill (Patrick Swayze), one of the many heroes in his father’s tall tales. In the course of their travels, they rope logger Paul Bunyan (Oliver Platt) and steer driver John Henry (Roger Aaron Brown) into their battle with the land-grabbers.
Glenn makes a splendidly wicked villain, and Swayze is everything any kid could want in a two-fisted, hard-drinking, pistol-packing whirlwind-rider.
Director Jeremiah Chechik strives for a look and feel of slightly exaggerated grandeur, at once celebrating and gently tweaking the traditions of Old West.