Beer for My Horses (2008)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Road Movie  |   Release Date - Aug 8, 2008 (USA)  |   Run Time - 88 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Derek Armstrong

It wouldn't be a surprise if liberal viewers gave Beer for My Horses a wide berth. It stars a country singer (Toby Keith) known for the jingoistic war mongering of his post-9/11 anthem "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue," and the DVD comes complete with a short film designed as promotional material for the Ford F-150. But Michael Salomon's film includes a joke early on that tips its hand as less politically predictable than one might expect. Keith's small-town Oklahoma cop is talking about the Quaker Oats guy and says, "You mean the one who looks like Barbara Bush?" If that throwaway moment isn't telling enough, there's nary an attempt to take an overt position on illegal immigration, even though the plot involves a kidnapping perpetrated by Mexican drug runners. The biggest surprise Beer for My Horses has in store is that it actually works -- that Keith and company have a surprisingly good sense of humor. The film's funniest running joke involves rocker Ted Nugent in the nearly dialogue-free role of an unhinged deputy named Skunk, who prefers crossbows and hunting knives to the standard-issue police accoutrements; instead of wearing his badge, he has it tattooed to his chest. Beer for My Horses is definitely designed as a vanity project for Keith, who also writes and produces. However, he has the smarts not just to make a latter-day Steven Seagal movie. He'll definitely be there at the end to save the day, but the path to get there might not be what you expect. For example, a second-half road trip to Mexico features not only a quirky overnight stay with a traveling circus, but also an impromptu version of the Isley Brothers' "Shout," sung by co-star Rodney Carrington and a bunch of mean-looking black dudes in a truck-stop bathroom.