Mr. Movie

Inspirational 'Buck' among year's best

Buck Brannaman isn’t much to look at. He’s just an ordinary cowboy. Boots, jeans, chaps, cowboy hat. The usual.

Buck isn’t excitable or exciting. His voice is kind of monotone, too. It doesn’t go up or down much.

Buck spends much of the movie atop a horse dispensing wisdom about the nuances of horse behavior to rapt and amazed audiences. You’d think nothing he says is special to anyone other than a horse owner.

-- Local show times, theaters, trailer.

Then you start listening. The early bits of homespun advice shared in Buck by the ordinary Buck Brannaman transform the movie into something extraordinary.

But I’m a little ahead of myself.

Let’s start with this. If you’re one of my Tri-Cities readers, Buck is “the” movie to see this weekend. If you’re not a Tri-Cities reader, go out and look for Buck. It’s in art houses here and there, and as the word gets out about this amazing man, even some mainstream theater chains are discovering the film.

Carmike Cinemas in Tri-Cities did.

Buck Brannaman is a horse whisperer. And while Buck's focus is on horses, this is not a movie just for the horse riding set. What Buck has to say and how he says make a good fit for everyone.

A little history. Buck is the guy that advised Robert Redford on his outstanding film The Horse Whisperer. He was Redford’s double in some of the horse training sequences. Much of what Buck taught Redford about horses was used in the movie.

Redford makes an appearance in Buck. He’s as impressed with Buck as you will be.

That, too, is not why you should see the movie. While evoking equestrian banter, Buck takes you on a spellbinding journey into the nuances of human nature. Buck’s awful childhood, his love of horses and people -- and a simple, and quite right-on take on life -- will have you nodding your head yes over and over again.

As you can read on my blog on Sunday, I had an opportunity to spend 30 minutes on the phone with Buck and director Cindy Meehl. A half-hour wasn’t enough.

Average moviegoers — that’s you — don’t flock to documentaries. But spend the money for this one. Buck Brannaman not just entertaining, he’s inspiring. This 88-minute lesson in horse sense is worth triple the price of a ticket.

Mr. Movie rating: 5 stars

Rated PG for mature themes. It opens Friday, August 12 at the Carmike 12.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.