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All Hat (2007)

by on 2012/06/12


“Do what you have to do. Just don’t take too long doing it.”

* *

I’ve seen a lot of poorly reviewed videos, many of which were surprisingly enjoyable. Well, guess what? All Hat isn’t one of them.

Considering he’s newly emerged from wrongful imprisonment, is estranged from an old flame, and beds someone roughly half his age in the first half hour, protagonist Ray Dokes (Luke Kirby) is probably the blandest cipher in the history of bland ciphers.

Punctuated (read “padded”) by scenes of drinking in various bars and taverns, the movie offers us glimpses of some truly humdrum locales: condo roofs, farms and ranches, racetracks and, well, that’s pretty much it.

Oh hang on . . . a strip club with no nudity at all.

This neo-western (yeah, right) might involve competitive horse racing, but it also may well be the single most boring thing I’ve reviewed so far.

It.

Is.

Slo-o-ow.

Not bad, as such, yet oh so very slow.

Under a third of the running time in, and I was desperately checking my watch, still waiting for the hook. A hook. Any hook. When things eventually happened — interpersonal conflict or lead-footed con game alike — I was way past the point of caring one iota. Things just being said and done didn’t make them interesting.

Initially I thought I wasn’t connecting to the “action”. After all, I don’t drink to depression in pool halls, waste undue time on broken relationships, or gamble on the Sir John A. Macdonald Stakes. However, I do watch a lot of films involving worlds I have no experience with, and they don’t necessarily lose me in this way.

I realized I was waiting to meet any characters I could care about, or relate to, or even vaguely suss out. My issues were not so much what-and-how as simply who-and-why. Too many stories suffer for not investing enough in character. This one suffers for excess time spent on nobody worth our knowing.

Now, notice I say “characters” and not the actors portraying them — though I do have to wonder what drew them to this script — Keith Carradine, Rachael Leigh Cook, Graham Greene (Gunless), Ernie Hudson, and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-him appearance by Stephen McHattie (A History of Violence). While they’re decent players, and good to see, they’re made uninteresting here.

The audio doesn’t do them any favours. Being mixed too low against over-loud music is a common problem for dialogue, but this production reaches a new low, literally. (Compounding that sin is the omission of subtitle options.) Which is not to say the music isn’t reasonable listening. Bill Frisell’s score and the occasional song are fine, especially set against the autumnal visuals.

But none of it is worth suffering through the rest of All Hat for.

Frankly, I can’t fathom for whom this misfire was made. Take the set of all potential viewers, then overlap the subsets of: Canadians, construction workers, drinkers, equiphiles, gamblers, and sports fans. I seriously doubt the hypothetical result would have the patience to sit through this slog.

I guess if you’re really, really into breeding and racing horses, All Hat might be for you, but I am not, and this sure as hell isn’t either.

* *

Rated 14A

91 minutes

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  1. A Geek’s Month in Review: June 2012 « Geek vs Goth

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