Making the Grades
Daniel Hackett is a 12-year-old boy who is tired of farming and listening to his dad's tall tales about Pecos Bill and other western legends. "They aren't real!" he keeps telling his dad, but in turn comes home with stories his dad finds just as bizarre. "Dad, I saw a horseless carriage in town today!" exclaims Daniel, offering the experience as a good excuse for being late.
Daniel's dad, Jonas (Stephen Lang) has other problems to contend with, namely J.P. Styles, a greedy, nasty, slimy bad guy. He wants to buy all the land in Paradise Valley where the Hacketts live and turn it into a strip mine. Only problem is, Jonas isn't selling, requiring Stiles and his gang to get the land the only way they know how--with guns. Jonas winds up getting shot but gives the deed to Daniel. Frightened and upset, Daniel finds an old rowboat to hide in, where he drifts off...
The best part of this movie is the dream sequence where Daniel meets Pecos Bill (Patrick Swayze) along with John Henry and Paul Bunyan. As a team, they keep one step ahead of Stiles. The imagination of bringing these characters to life really makes this film work. While Pecos Bill was never meant to be a saint, at least he and his other two buddies have personalities. What a difference from the usual mighty morphin' things we get today.
Tall Tale contains a fair amount of old west violence. Pecos Bill shoots off a couple dozen trigger fingers in this movie, and there is plenty more shooting from everybody else, along with a few good brawls. Parents concerned about this type of violence may want to view Tall Tale first, or at least watch it with your children. However, I'm a little partial to this movie, mainly because it packs a lot of adventure with some good imagination and a unique script. It may even motivate some child somewhere to pick up a book and read about one of these characters.