Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Movie Review: Cactus Jack (1979)

One of the problems with compiling a list of movies I haven’t seen is the reason I haven’t seen those movies. There are a lot of Westerns on this list because they just don’t appeal to me.

Good thing Jay loves a challenge.

When I complained to Jay that I just haven’t found a Western I really enjoyed, he said, “Let’s watch Cactus Jack [aka: The Villain].” (Well, first, he said, “You like Blazing Saddles,” and he was right. Turns out I only dislike Westerns that take themselves too seriously...)

My first thought when Cactus Jack (1979) started was, 'Omg, this is a Looney Tunes movie.' When we finished watching Cactus Jack, the first thing I said to Jay was, "Omg, this is a Looney Tunes movie."

Pretty much every Western ever made could start with exactly the same sweeping shot of sand and mountains, cacti and tumbleweed. Cactus Jack is no exception. After that, though, Cactus Jack is nothing like any of the other Westerns I've seen. It's more like a Wile E. Coyote cartoon. In fact, when Jay was trying to convince me to watch Cactus Jack, he said, "Just think Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner."

He was not wrong.

If you think I'm wrong about how silly it gets, wait for the bit where the baddie paints a tunnel onto a solid wall. You know where this is going, right? Right. Not even joking.

There are some pretty ridiculous names in this movie too. Names like Charming Jones (Ann-Margret), Handsome Stranger (Arnold Schwarzenegger), and Nervous Elk (Paul Lynde). Charming is the gorgeous woman who's only interested in sex, Handsome is as dimwitted as he is good-looking, and there's nothing about Nervous Elk that resembles the Native American he's supposed to be. Then, there's Jack...

Kirk Douglas's Cactus Jack is rotten to the core but completely useless at being a villain. Even his horse is smarter than he is. Much, much smarter. Honestly, Whiskey (Jack's horse) is the best part of the movie - and, considering my dislike for horses, you know that's saying something!

Whiskey has zero interest in helping his owner perform villainy and does everything possible to foil Jack's evil plans - including helping the authorities apprehend Jack. If you don't watch Cactus Jack for any other reason, watch it for Whiskey the horse.

Cactus Jack is one of Arnie's earliest appearances in film, which is pretty obvious when he finally makes an appearance. There's very little actual acting involved. Mostly, he stares straight ahead and looks oblivious - which, you know, was probably the limit of his ability at the time.

Like I said before (and on many other occasions,) I'm not a fan of Westerns. I loved this stupid movie, though. Just remember that the stereotypes are supposed to be stereotypes and the cultural appropriation is supposed to be creditworthy and you'll be fine.

Have you seen Cactus Jack? Want to weigh in? Either drop a comment below or find me on Twitter (@witchybelle4u2.) If you can suggest a Western for people who don't like Westerns, even better.

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