There are few genres which immediately lend themselves to producing Classics of the Corn. One of those genres is the musical pseudo-biopic.
Pure Country takes bonafide country star George Strait and turns him into fictionalized country star Dusty Chandler (yes, the same name as Lizabeth Scott’s character from Dead Reckoning). Dusty is a man who feels like he’s stuck in a career as the puppet of his record label and PR team. The basic premise of the film is that Dusty decides to leave his big arena concerts behind in search of true country music and true looooove.
The tone deaf singing of a child kicks off the film, transitioning into the vocals of George Strait before transitioning again into a different song sung by George Strait on screen… while wearing a bedazzled jacket and rockin’ the tiny ponytail hair-do. I can think of few film characters with a fashion sense so tacky and glorious.
Even when the story lags due to the overabundance of musical performances packed into the film, enjoyment can be found in the ultra-corny handiwork of the wardrobe department. Dusty isn’t alone in his wacky fashions; audience members decked out in very stereotypical late ’80s/early ’90s garb (high-waisted shorts, color blocked t-shirts, the whole nine yards) sway along to the smooth sounds of our good buddy “Dusty.”
The film really tries to drive hope the point that Dusty is a capital-s-Superstar. Crazy fans are escorted off stage by beefy body guards in “Dusty” jackets. Mobs await his arrival as he exits the venue at the end of the concert.
Another exciting element of the film is its attempt to convey meaning through trippy scenes of Dusty’s mental breakdown, complete with distorted imagery and ever-lazier delivery of each line he sings. The viewer begins to see Dusty’s resemblance to that tone-deaf kid from the opening as he stumbles over words and acts like he could very well pass out at any moment.
You may be wondering at this point, how will our dear Dusty solve all of his problems? The answer is simple: he lashes out at the management (which includes a baby-faced Kyle Chandler) by yelling “AH DON’T SAY YEW OUT THAR MAKIN’ THOSE PE-OPLE SCREA-UM” with an exaggerated southern accent, gets in a seriously over-dramatic fist fight in a rainy parking lot, and then goes along his merry way to pay a visit to his grandmother.
For its moments of dullness, Pure Country has its share of stellar moments of corn as well which make it worth watching.
George Strait’s musical performances are for the most part fantastic, especially if you are a fan of the genre or of him as a singer. (I happen to be a fan, partially for nostalgic reasons.) His performance as an actor, however, is not the greatest. I’m sure a singer could have been found who could have carried the role better and made the film a decent drama rather than a mild cornfest, but Strait’s talent and reputation as a musician are the film’s major draw, and in that respect it is an enjoyable watch.
Avoid this one like the plague if you despise country music, since it is absolutely packed with musical performances. If you are a fan of the genre, don’t mind it or are at the very least willing to put up with it for the sake of the corn, this is a decent flick to tune into. Don’t expect a level of corn as great as that of Frogs, but there is a fair amount to enjoy here.