Country Goes to the Movies or Take This Movie and Shove It – March 1997
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Country Goes to the Movies or Take This Movie and Shove It  Print

By Robert Loy, March 1997

Country music can inspire people to do all sorts of unusual things - laugh, cry, relive a heartbreak - even line dance. Once in a while, when people in Hollywood California hear country songs it gives them an idea for a motion picture - sometimes great motion pictures like "Coal Miner's Daughter" and ...uh ... now, let me see ... "Coal Miner's Daughter" and...

Well, all right, "Coal Miner's Daughter" was a fluke. More often than not, when Hollywood transforms a song into a movie the results are more like the following Oscar-ignored beauties."Take This Job and Shove it" is based on a song written by David Allen Coe, but it is not "The Perfect Country and Western Song."Not by a long shot. Here Eddie Albert plays the head of a soulless conglomerate that has just taken over a small hometown brewery in Dubuque, Iowa. He sends Frank Macklin (Robert Hays) down to increase profits so they can sell it at a profit to another soulless conglomerate.

This is before the "Airplane" movies, so Hays has to drive. Once he gets to Iowa, he gets stuck behind two rednecks drinking beer and belching smoke from their tailpipe. They want to race Frank's Mercedes, and then when they lose, they want to fight him. It turns out that these two clowns are Frank's old high school chums, Harry (who looks like David Hasselhoff would if he were a brewer instead of a Baywatcher) and Ray (if Tom Selleck and Wade Boggs had a baby it would look like this guy). Frank still owes Harry 4,000 beers from the old days, and considering that these guys have just polished off a couple dozen cold ones - during their lunch hour! - 4,000 probably won't last more than a week or two.

Frank gets right to work at the brewery, firing people and speeding up production so much that many of the workers are forced to actually work partially-sober. Harry and Ray make sure he doesn't become too much of a workaholic. They drag him out to their favorite redneck roadhouse. (Those of you who have been wondering whatever became of David Allen Coe and Lacy J. Dalton, it turns out they're performing at a dive in Dubuque.)

After a few days of hanging around and bending elbows with the common folks, Frank decides he doesn't really want to be a hard-driving, type-A capitalist any more. He wants to be a lazy drunk like everyone else. Part of this change of heart is due to the reappearance of old flame Barbara Hershey, who Frank is still sweet on. (Get it - Hershey? Sweet?)

Meanwhile, back at the main office, Charlie (The Silver Fox) Rich has discovered oil in his back yard. Rich decides he wants to buy a brewery in some podunk town where he can see other washed-up country singers in the local watering hole. Eddie Albert says I've got just the place for you, and sends Martin Mull up to show him Frank's handiwork.

But Frank has ordered a slowdown at work. His employees are so excited they throw a surprise party for him at the bar. They play football with a roll of toilet paper - which, of course, turns into a glass-shattering, table-crunching brawl. Johnny Paycheck (who after all made the song famous) makes his 10-second appearance. He plays the busboy who has to clean up this mess - no wonder he's so dissatisfied with his employment situation.

Just to make absolutely sure Mr. Rich doesn't buy the brewery and make these worthless sots actually do some work, Frank directs the guys on the line to start breaking bottles. Eventually somebody turns the beer hose on Rich and Mull. Chaos ensues.

For some reason, probably just so somebody can actually say "Take this job and shove it," Eddie Albert doesn't fire Frank, but instead offers him a promotion - head of Canadian operations. The movie irresponsibly ends with a big party.

We don't see what happens the next morning when Frank sobers up and realizes what a horrible mistake he's made. We don't see a couple months down the road when they come to repossess the Mercedes. And we don't see a year or so in the future when Barbara Hershey dumps him and he winds up in the cirrhosis wing of the hospital with Harry and Ray, waiting for a liver transplant.

Actually, "Is There Life Out There?" is not a bad movie, but if you saw the video you've pretty much seen the movie too.

Oh, there are a few cosmetic changes - Huey Lewis got the news that Keith Carradine would be playing his part - and they've added some subplots involving Reba's 17-year-old sister Belle who probably won't be going to Harvard anytime soon. (She drops out of high school with three weeks to go till graduation because she says it's too hot to wear a cap and gown), and a teaching assistant at the college that everybody except Reba can see has the hots for her.

And we get to see Ms. McEntire in her underwear which we didn't before. But basically this is a 90-minute music video without music.

Reba plays Lily Marshall, a woman who lies awake nights reading John Greenleaf Whittier. ("The thing about poets is they get ya thinkin' " she astutely remarks.) After Belle leaves home to live with a motorcycle mechanic, Lily finds that she "can't sleep, can't read."

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