Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Hillbilly Hog Roast number 2

It is time for the next Hillbilly Hog Roast.

This time we will pick the official Hillbilly Motion Picture. To qualify the movie must have been in theatrical release, rather than a TV movie or direct to VHS/DVD.

The movie does not have to be set in the South, but must in some way embody the hillbilly spirit.

Post your entries in the comments or email them to me. Include at least a few sentences about the movie for the benefit of those of us who may not have seen it.

Entries will be accepted for one week. Then you can have a week to think over the choices and then voting will be done over the third week.

To start things off here is my entry:

Next Of Kin is a classic revenge story set in the city of Chicago, a city with a real life large Hillbilly community (I used to be one of them). The picture has an excellent lineup of acting talent including Oscar winner Helen Hunt and Oscar nominees Liam Neeson and Michael J Pollard. Also in the picture are Patrick Swayze, Bill Paxton, Ben Stiller, Adam Baldwin and one of my all time favorite character actors, the late Andreas Katsulas.

Swayze plays Truman Gates a native of the mountains of Kentucky who became a Chicago police detective after serving in the 82nd Airborne. Gates is married to Jessie (Helen Hunt), a violin teacher and performer with the Chicago Symphony. As the movie begins Truman and his older brother Briar (Liam Neeson) are conducting a long distance contest for the future of their younger brother Gerald (Bill Paxton), who is currently living in Chicago and working as a truck driver for a company which supplies vending machines to restaruants. Truman wants Gerald to remain in Chicago and build a life there, while Briar wants him to return home to the hills after he saves enough money for a down payment on a coal truck.

Tragedy strikes the Gates family when Gerald is murdered by mobster Joey Rosselini (Adam Baldwin) who is the right hand of Mafia don John Isabella (Andreas Katsulas). It seems that the Isabella family wants to take over the vending machine business and hijacking delivery trucks and murdering their drivers (at least if they try to fight back as hillbilly Gerald tries to do) is a main negotiating tactic.

Into this mix throw the old don’s son Lawrence (Ben Stiller) who arrives from business school to get ready to take over leadership of the family (a role that Rosselini had been planning on filling when the time came).

Truman is determined to allow the law to bring his brother’s killers to justice while Briar and the rest of the family back home in the hills believe that it is the families duty to “set things right”. In order to fulfill this obligation to extract an eye for an eye Briar shows up in Chicago with an arsenal of weapons. As his base of operations in Chicago he rents a room in a seedy rooming house in the Hillbilly Quarter which is run by Harold (Michael J Pollard, nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Bonnie And Clyde). Briar tracks Gerald’s killers to the vending machine company where Joey and Lawrence have set up offices (the previous owners having been motivated to sell by the recent violence). Briar shoots the place up and threatens to come back if his brother’s murderer isn’t handed over.

This upsets John Isabella because it makes him “appear foolish”, something no head of a crime family can tolerate. When Joey tells him that the hillbillys are “nothing, they plow rocks for a living”, Isabella responds with one of the best lines of the movie. “Interesting. That’s what they said about our people back in Sicily. Finish this!”

Truman has Briar arrested for illegal possession of a firearm in order to keep him safe from the mob until the police investigation concludes. This changes when the mob, seeking to frighten Truman off the case, assaults his wife. Truman lets his brother out of jail and allows him to help track down the killers, but only if he promises to let the cops arrest the murderers. Together they track down David Jenkins, Gerald’s partner who was with him during the hijacking (who was wise enough to abandon the truck and run). Jenkins, a Black man, has been hiding from both the cops and the mob in the Black community of Chicago’s South Side.

Joey murders Lawrence and blames Briar. The mob murders Briar and Truman returns to his Hillbilly roots, setting out to gain justice the “Mountain Way”. Meanwhile Harold has obeyed Briar’s “if’n I get kilt” instructions and phoned the family back in Kentucky with the bad news about Briar. This sends a convoy of heavily armed hill people (including a school bus full of snakes) on the way to Chicago.

It all comes to a head at night in a graveyard in the middle of Chicago. There the mob, with machine guns, meets hillbillys with compound bows, crossbows, tomahawks, shotguns, hunting knives, bloodhounds, and a school bus full of snakes.