I love John Wayne, and I have a feeling there are quite a few other fans out there too, so you may understand how hesitant I was to see a remake of one of his best films. The pivot point was Jeff Bridges. Yeah, I know: Just because I loved him in The Big Lebowski doesn’t mean he can do Rooster Cogburn, but I was surprised. Jeff Bridges always seems to morph into any role he takes and this was no exception: different and gruffer than Wayne, but well done.
Now for the girl. I can’t say that I was a huge fan of the original; she wasn’t given much of a personality considering the role she was meant to portray. She always struck me as kind of sad and mopey. This new girl had a much bigger personality. Too bad it was the personality of Ann Shirley of Green Gables fame. Saw it the minute she stepped into the frame, did a double take when she explained the spelling of “futile”, and the hits just kept on coming. Then throw in Mat Damon, my Boston boy! He did a fairly decent job, made better by a good costume designer, but I’m not sure who made that casting decision or why. I will say that he made the character his own; it was nothing like the original. There was still the creepy little girl vs. Texas Ranger semi inappropriate pseudo relationship which I never really understood. Why not just make the girl older so it’s not so weird?
I have very little use for remakes and don’t really see the point in half of them. The idea is that a plot line that was once popular could be a sure winner at the box office. Often they end up screwing it up and killing the good name of the original. That being said, I was impressed that this film stood on its own. It didn’t lean on the first but made its own path only using the bare outline of the True Grit screen play. Entertaining, fun, humorous at points, individual, excellent cinematography, and decent caricature development. I give full credit to Jeff Bridges.
“I’m a foolish old man whose been drawn into a wild goose chase by a harpy in trousers and a nincompoop.”
– Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn