Writer/director Gregory C. Haynes, a Utah resident, has made a feature film written and produced entirely in the Beehive State -- and it's not even about Mormons. Why, many of these people even drink beer."Cowboys & Angels" is about a mopey man named Danny (Adam Trese) who finds out, long after the fact, that the ex-fiancee for whom he still pines was seeing his best friend, Carl (Hamilton von Watts), behind his back. He learns this at Carl's wedding reception, and is informed of it by a mysterious woman named JoJo (Radha Mitchell), who likes to attend the weddings of strangers just for fun.
"Nice try, but to be good, you have to not be boring. It's a weird rule."
Danny and JoJo start dating, but she breaks it off before it goes too far, citing unexplainable reasons that he'll understand someday. The next day, he meets Candace (Mia Kirshner) and soon finds himself in love with her, though he's also still in love with JoJo (and with that unfaithful ex-fiancee, too, for that matter).
We realize right away, and are eventually told outright, that the reason JoJo can't get serious with Danny is that she's an angel. She has a connection to Candace, too, resulting in a pleasant, gentle twist at the end.
While no masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, "Cowboys & Angels" is not bad, either. Haynes effectively uses ethereal techno-pop music to evoke moods, and there's quite a bit of mood in this film. Most of it comes from Adam Trese, whose character is frankly too down-hearted all the time. Radha Mitchell and Mia Kirshner give much better performances.
When the movie finally arrives, we get a very nice message about the impact we have on other people's lives, and how the Fates use us to bless others. Trouble is, it takes a long time to get there. For a half-hour or so, it seems to be going nowhere. The addition of Utah actor Duane Stephens as an angel with ambiguous duties hinders more than helps.It's melancholy and contemplative, and earnestly done. It is "family-friendly," as they say, except that it will bore kids. The grown-ups, though, may have an agreeable time with it.
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originally posted: 07/04/03 11:59:44