Someone this week compared Country Strong to Showgirls, and I couldn’t help but agree. But then again, I loved Showgirls, which is pretty much my favorite bad movie of all time. If you’re considering going to see this movie, you should make sure you like two things: plaid and weepy, silly country music. Also, nonsense. Check out our Chick List rating to learn more.
The Chick Flick Check List is here to help you navigate the difficult terrain of films aimed toward women. These movies may not be Oscar caliber material, but when you’re in need of shoe porn or pretty faces, they can be just the trick. Follow our guidelines to decide whether this week’s film is worth watching.
Country Strong‘s Chick List Ranking: 60
Likability of the lead: 8
I’m not usually a huge fan of Gwyneth, but I found her totally endearing for most of this movie. The slight twang of a Southern accent really softens her edges, and she does a great job with all the tiny, emotional scenes that she’s in. She does really well as a broken down alcoholic who inexplicably gets out of rehab early to go on tour again.
Big Country is certainly not her thing, but she’s got star power. And luckily for her, she only has to produce over the top country at the end of the movie. And by that point, things are such a disaster that it’s hard to pay attention to any off key singing or awkward thrusting
Supporting Cast: 5/10
Dear Tim McGraw. What the hell are you doing in this movie? Also, why would anyone cast a real country music singer in a movie that’s supposed to be about country, and then not have him sing a single note? He’s not quite up to the whole deep emotions thing, and as Kelly Cantor’s husband, he takes his wife out of rehab early so she can make some more money out of her. Even though they’re only playing three venues and she’s obviously a mess and should probably stay in rehab another year or two? It makes no sense. And Tim doesn’t help matters by being rather stoic and silent in the face area throughout the movie.
Meanwhile, Leighton Meester plays a sweet beauty queen who desperately wants to be famous. But then we find out that she’s actually been hiding the fact that she’s a terrible beauty queen and her dad is in prison. WTF? That sounds like the perfect upbringing for a country music star. Why does this movie hate sense?
Country Strong is really hurt by the fact that Crazy Heart came out last year. An over the hill country singer tries to make good while battling issues with alcohol? Yup. If you wanted an Oscar, probably should have done this last year Gwyneth. Meanwhile, the movie has got aspects of Millionaire Dollar Baby that I’d rather not relive.
Chemistry Between The Leads: 6/10
Garret Hedlund is so hot. If you love plaid and beards, you should probably own this movie to stare at him some day. Does he have good chemistry with Gwyneth or Leighton Meester? I don’t know. Every time he starts talking to a female lady person they make out. I feel like that’s probably what good country singers should do to women that are near them.
Meanwhile, Tim McGraw is straight up weird. Maybe his character loves Kelly Cantor. But maybe he hates her and wants to hurt her by making her go on this terrible, stupid tour that only includes three dates? I mean, she kind of killed his baby by getting wasted and falling off a stage in Dallas. So if you were really pissed at your wife for doing that, taking her out of rehab and making her do three shows with the final one in Dallas would be a pretty great way to punish her. But I don’t think that’s what happened? I dunno. They just had bad chemistry, ok?
Chance of wringing tears out of viewers: 8/10
I have a weak spot for slow country songs, ok? Sue me! Also, at one point, Kelly/Gwynnie goes into this classroom and writes a song for a tiny dying boy in a huge cowboy hat. Right on the spot. I think they used a tear generating algorithm to create this scene. And it worked! It is adorable and sweet, and Gwyneth totally nails it. Until Tim McGraw moves in and makes the little dying kid step off so he can dance with his wife. Right before he leaves her to go cry in the hallway like a weirdo. At which point the movie reminds all the viewers that it does not care about them and is just playing weird games.
Which reminds me that this movie really does some weird shit. I did all my crying in the first 3/4 of the movie. After Kelly’s Dallas show, everything just goes off the rails and it’s hard to care about anyone/thing that happens in this movie.
Male Eye Candy: 9/10
Did I mention I was into Garret Hedlund in this movie? Can he act? I dunno. But he looks nice in jeans. Also, he walks around wet in a towel sometimes. Clearly this movie is meant for females.
I think they were going with understated country here, not rhinestones and ball gowns and sequins. We only got that for a few minutes at the end, so nothing super fabulous to see here. Did I mention they all look really good in jeans and plaid, though?
Plot Believability: 5/10
I know country songs are all about mamas and trucks and prison and getting drunk, but this one even fails the David Allen Coe believability test. At least no one got runned over by a damned old train?
Food/Real Estate Porn: 5/10
Almost the entirety of this movie happens in a tour bus and backstage at concert halls. But it’s all got a nice dusty feel to it. Of all the things wrong with this movie, the setting is not where the problems lie.
Children, pets and other scene stealers: 3/10
In the beginning of this movie, Gwyneth picks up a tiny bird in a box to take care of in rehab. For some reason, Toby Keith picks up the box and decides to take care of it. And this has some sort of deep significance to them both that is rather hokey. But as they kept opening the box an inch to feed this wee thing throughout the movie, I couldn’t help wondering if the ASPCA was going to come by and haul them off. Birds don’t like living in tiny boxes, country people!