Rated PG for some language and thematic material, 90 minutes
Music is best part of hokey "Pure Country 2: The Gift"
When I first saw the trailer for "Pure Country 2: The Gift" I thought it was a straight-to-DVD release and was a little surprised to find it was getting a limited release in theaters. The second-rate, hokey and cliched rags-to-riches story is a sequel to the 1992 film "Pure Country" that had George Strait in his only big-screen role, and much like that film, is only memorable for the music.
Bobbie (Katrina Elam, in her big screen debut) is born in Kentucky, but her mother dies in childbirth and she is raised by Aunt Ella (Jackie Welch). She is blessed with the gift of song by some angels (including Michael McKean and Cheech Marin) and she heads to Nashville as soon as she can to become a big-time country singer. She quickly rises to fame and love but with the help of a big country music star (George Strait), she realizes there's more to life than being rich and famous.
The cheap, slight but entertaining "Pure Country 2: The Gift" will likely have a longer life on DVD, which is really where it belongs. The rags-to-riches story was done better in "Coal Miners Daughter," as that film had much more charm, wit and Loretta Lynn. It also had a much better script and direction, which is what this film is in need of. Christopher Cain, brother of "Superman" Dean Cain (watch for him here briefly as a music video director) can't quite pull of the contrived, silly story, but he tries, infusing the film with too many simplistic messages about life, love and trying hard.
Elam is pretty and talented, but she's too inexperienced to carry a movie her first time out. Strait has just a few minutes of screen time in what is really an extended cameo essentially playing himself. There are a handful of amusing scenes (an Asian country band is fun) but down the stretch, "Pure Country 2" is simply too slight, badly acted and way, way too predictable. The movie itself is a bit baffling: the first "Pure Country" nearly 20 years wasn't exactly a classic and Strait is admittedly no actor himself.
The pop-country tunes are the most memorable thing, and you'll leave "Pure Country" with a few of your toes tapping, but you won't remember anything else about this otherwise forgettable, calculated tale of music and stardom.