When someone told me that Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig were going to be in a movie with the girl who played a lesbian on The OC (that's Olivia Wilde for the uninformed), I said, "Yes, please." When they told me that the guy who played the vow-of-silence son in Little Miss Sunshine (Paul Dano) was going to be involved, my ears perked up even further. And when those same people told me that the film would be helmed by Iron Man director Jon Favreau and would feature a ragtag band of cowboys fighting off a swarm of evil aliens, it was almost too much awesomeness to take. Like dipping a corndog in molten white chocolate, dusting it with Fun Dip and glazing it in teriyaki, it was almost too good. But I happily sat through a screening and can honestly say that it's as good of a movie with the title Cowboys & Aliens as it's possible to make.
Sci-fi and Westerns are arguably the two most American forms of cinema, and this movie combines these genres. The former generally incorporates elements of Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey; a protagonist's odyssey from adolescence to adulthood and beyond. The latter generally features a mysterious anti-hero looking for redemption. The quintessentially American character simultaneously yearns for personal growth and second chances. A nifty plot device involving amnesia allows Daniel Craig's Jake Lonergan to play both the Jesus and Judas characters. But enough with the Film 101. Harrison Ford, in the gruff "get off my plane" portion of his career, shines as a cowboy who doesn't plan on doing a lick of atoning. Sam Rockwell plays a greenhorn barkeep looking to make a new life for himself. And Olivia Wilde's character largely defies explanation in the same way her bosoms defy gravity. All in all, the tropes of the two American-est film genres are mashed together in a way that foreign audiences are sure to love (or want to kill us for, yay!) If you like popcorn movies, I'd recommend seeing it. But...I almost forgot. The ladies want to know: Is it a date movie?
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