I am the wrong movie critic to write a review of the documentary film, “Buck”. I like ALMOST every genre movies have to offer, with just a couple of exceptions.
The first genre I absolutely have no love for at all is Westerns. It is a genre that has mostly died out, and I, for one, have not shed any tears for its demise. I just can’t relate to anyone in those films. I don’t get the life of a cowboy. Perhaps it comes from growing up as a city slicker. As a result I was one of the few critics who did not care for the Coen Brother’s “True Grit” last year. I recognize that it was a well made movie, but I couldn’t wait for it to end.
Westerns are the #1 genre I don’t like. The second would have to be Documentaries. I don’t dislike Documentaries as much as Westerns because there are some documentaries movies I have really liked. If a documentary is covering a topic I’m interested in, like “Official Rejection” which was about film festivals, I could be sitting at the edge of my seat for the whole movie. There are some documentaries that I had no idea what the topic is about, but if it is made well enough, I can get into it. Sadly, those documentaries are few and far between. Most documentaries are very boring! I almost find that the topic being discussed can be told in about 15-20 minutes, but the filmmakers stretch it out to 90 minutes or more and usually just repeat the same information over and over again.
When I was asked to review “Buck” I had no idea what it was about, only that it had appeared at this past year’s Sundance Film Festival (more on that later). It wasn’t long for me to realize one of my worst movie going experiences had come true, I was watching a documentary about a cowboy! “Buck” is about cowboy Buck Brannaman. What Buck does today is go around the country showing people how to train their horses using non-punishment methods. In his own words, “I do not help people with horse problems. I help horses with people problems.”
Early on in “Buck” I thought to myself that this guy is a horse whisperer of sorts. It is revealed later in the movie that Buck was one of the inspirations for the “The Horse Whisperer” and he worked on the movie as a consultant. They even used his own horse in an important scene with Scarlet Johansen when the “movie performing horse” could not hit its marks. Robert Redford does make an appearance in “Buck” to talk about the great impact Buck Brannaman had on the making of “The Horse Whisperer”. It was then I was not as impressed that “Buck” made it into Sundance. They had the founder of the film festival in their movie. That’s almost like picking you own child to make it on a sports team when you’re the coach.
Outside of the story involving “The Horse Whisperer”, “Buck” focuses on two elements about Buck Brannaman’s life. The first was his childhood. He became a master at rope tricks by the time he was six and even appeared on TV commercials, but he had a very abusive father who used to beat him and his brother almost nightly. The rest of the documentary follows Buck on the road as he goes from state to state training people his techniques on how to train their horses without hurting them (which was how horses were trained for years beforehand). The filmmaker of “Buck”, Cindy Meehl, interviews the people Buck encounters, all who say how amazing he is at what he does.
That goes on for almost 90-minutes. I remember looking to see how much time had gone by as I first became bored. At that point only THREE MINUTES had gone by. It felt like 15! That set a world record for me on how quickly I became bored with a documentary. I can only see “Buck” appealing to a very small nitch of moviegoers; however, there are a large portion of people out there that does like Westerns and if those people also like documentaries than maybe that number is larger. The movie is rated PG and playing in theaters across South Florida.