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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

VHS Vednesday: What Comes Around

WHAT COMES AROUND (1986). Directed by Jerry Reed. Starring Jerry Reed, Bo Hopkins, and Barry Corbin.

The late, great country singer Jerry Reed made one effort in the director's chair, and the result was What Comes Around. Reed stars as Joe Hawkins, a hard-working country singer kept under the thumb of his controlling manager Leon (Barry Corbin), who maintains Joe's hectic schedule by keeping the star hopped up on pills. Joe's younger brother Tom (Bo Hopkins), realizing the self-destructive path Joe is on, decides to take drastic action. Long before "intervention" and "detox" were common phrases, Tom abducts Joe and sequesters him in a mountain cabin to get him clean. Meanwhile, Leon engages the services of a money-grubbing private investigator (Arte Johnson) to recover his cash cow.

Some parts of What Comes Around are very effective...Reed's experience in the music field lends an air of realism to the behind-the-scenes glimpses of the recording sessions, and the tension between the two brothers during the impromptu-rehab sessions is convincing. Unfortunately, as a director, Reed seems unable to decide on a consistent tone. Taken by themselves, the dramatic scenes of Joe's addiction and recovery are pretty well done (if occasionally over-melodramatic), but Reed surrounds them with action/comedy set pieces in the style of Hal Needham (whom Reed had worked with in the Smokey and the Bandit films). When the message is "Alcoholism and drug addiction are terrible things," it doesn't help to include a lengthy "Ain't drunk driving a hoot?" car crash scene in which nobody is hurt and the property damage is laughed off.

The highlight of the movie is Jerry Reed's singing, showcased in several musical numbers throughout the movie. It's clear that the music was where Reed's heart truly was.

Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?

Jerry Reed himself admitted that he was not primarily an actor. ("When people ask me what my movitation is, I have a simple answer: money.") However, he rises to the challenge of a role that lets him stretch his dramatic muscles more than most of his previous films. Although he sometimes lapses into over-emoting shoutiness during his confrontations with his brother, he fares better during their more quiet scenes together. Unfortunately, outside of these dramatic scenes, he simply coasts by on charisma for the lighter portion of the movie.



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