Something crazy happened after I watched The Magnificent Seven with some friends last night. We had adjourned to a nearby Happy Hour to discuss the movie, when they verbally attacked me. The girls and I apparently had widely differing opinions of the movie and the more we drank, the louder our debate got.
See, this version of The Magnificent Seven is not a remake, but it definitely has the same bones. The original film from 1960 is a remake of Seven Samurai, and multiple films came after it, riffing on the same plot. Thanks to spoofs like The Three Amigos and Blazing Saddles, the Old-West-town-that-needs-to-be-saved storyline is excessively familiar. There are also obvious comparisons to other GREAT modern Westerns, like The Unforgiven and True Grit. The Magnificent Seven doesn’t have the comedy of the spoofs, but it also can’t achieve the emotional depths or cinematic beauty of better Westerns, so it’s left kind of floundering in the middle.
The Seven themselves, on the other hand, are pretty fantastic. I had some qualms about Denzel Washington’s bounty hunter, who seems too posh and polished to exist in a grimy Western town. Chris Pratt hams it up to the point of overload, but I’d happily watch that man brush his teeth and honestly can’t complain. He’s also great with a one-liner so if you find yourself laughing, it’s probably over a line Pratt delivered. The humor he provides and Washington’s dramatic highs aren’t enough to save The Magnificent Seven from uneven writing and tone, though. You end up just waiting for the inevitable showdown, which doesn’t disappoint.
It was during my dissection of The Magnificent Seven that Kristi and Rebekah essentially jumped me.
“What is WRONG with you? The Magnificent Seven was AWESOME! Why are you being such a hater? Omigod, stop being such a stupid Film Critic!”
I can’t remember exactly what they said, but you get the point.
Both of these women, who see just as many films as I do, thought The Magnificent Seven was loads of fun. They agreed to my uneven writing complaints, but didn’t get why the strength of the cast wasn’t enough for me. I admitted that I really DID like the stars and they jumped on me again, saying, “SEE! You liked it!”
Then I remembered that I’d been in a bad mood all day, and how I’d started a fight with my husband that morning over the placement of the Claritin bottle. Is it possible that my attitude had ruined The Magnificent Seven? Or had my friends been drinking just enough alcohol for a not-so-great movie to seem AWESOME? I honestly don’t know so, to be fair, I’ve included both of our grades below.
Grouchy Film Critic: C- Her Boozy Friends: B+
(For Parents: If you want to take your kids to see The Magnificent Seven, know that it’s rated PG-13. There is some mild profanity and a few references to rape, but the biggest problem parents might have is with the VIOLENCE. There are plenty of gun-fights, and countless shots of people being stabbed or whacked to death with hatchets. I didn’t notice too much onscreen blood, but even the good-guys take part in the carnage. You’ll have to weigh that against The Magnificent Seven‘s humor and positive messages of redemption.)