Coyote County Loser

Coyote County Loser


Reviewed by: Jonathan Melton

Of all cinematic genres, the romantic comedy is probably both the most formulaic and easiest to get right. Boy meets girl, they argue, sparks fly, are they going to get together? Oh look, by golly, they have, isn’t the world a wonderful place where love can blossom against the cruel adversity of initial mild disinterest? Don’t we all feel good about ourselves as we escape from our own uneventful unromantic lives and project onto the lovely couple on-screen? Isn’t that nice.

As played out and done to death as it is, the rom-com done correctly can still sparkle. A witty script, likeable, identifiable leads and that intangible ingredient X, ‘chemistry’, can make for a truly fulfilling cinematic experience. Some of cinema's best films are, at their heart, nothing but romantic comedies done correctly. Annie Hall, High Fidelity and so forth.

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Jason Naumann’s Coyote County Loser isn’t one of cinemas best films. But it isn’t bad either. It operates in that unfortunate middle-ground of OK. Acceptable. Passable. Fine. Average. The plot is a reasonable enough set-up - big shot city DJ Jack Procter (Beau Clark) drives through small American south-western Coyote County, a town where everyone listens to a local radio love advice show, in which woman are encouraged by host Lauren Hartford (Nikki Boyer) to wait for a perfect man who ticks all the boxes on their own personal relationship checklist. For example, must be college educated, must earn a certain amount, and so forth. Jack is affronted by this. Where is the romance, the excitement and surprise of dating, he wonders, surely there is more to love than this cynical, scientific approach?

So Jack calls in to argue his case for romantic love, and since he is, after all, a big shot, big city DJ, the radio station offers him his own love advice show, in the slot immediately following the other one. Jack accepts the offer, apparently with the sole intent of antagonising Lauren. Understandably, she’s not too happy about this. Surely this pair with such diametrically opposed views on love and courtship couldn’t possibly end up together could they?

Well yes, of course they could. And do. It’s to the film’s credit that it never insults the audience’s intelligence by pretending otherwise. Half the cast gossip openly about how they’re made for each other, even telling Jack and Lauren themselves. The will-they-won’t-they aspect is never really the point though is it? Coyote County Loser doesn’t aim to take you on a wild, emotional ride, but is perfectly happy to keep you pleasantly entertained for an hour and a half. And in this rather modest ambition, the film is a success. The leads are both charming and fun, and while the chemistry doesn’t exactly sizzle, it’s not lukewarm either. A slow boil perhaps?

Unfortunately, as an in independent film, it’s not really enough to be just a mildly entertaining diversion. Without studio advertising funds forcing people to see it, a rom-com needs to be truly unique to have any chance of succeeding. While Coyote may be pleasantly charming and enjoyable during its running time, once it’s finished and you have a chance to think about it, it becomes a little depressing. For a film to get made, some people to have to really care about it, believe in it, either as an artistic or financial endeavor. And since Coyote is unlikely to win awards, gain much critical acclaim, or even find an audience, it’s difficult to see it as anything other than a failure.

But it’s unfair to judge on anything other than the film itself. And while Coyote County Loser may be a failure, it’s an enjoyably diverting one. It’s acceptable. Fine. Passable. Forgettable.

Reviewed on: 04 Jul 2009
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A love advice radio show is telling women to wait for their perfect man. But isn’t there more to romance than unrealistic expectations?

Director: Jason Naumann

Writer: Robert Bethke, Don Porter, Jacob Roebuck, Lucas Roebuck

Starring: Nikki Boyer, Beau Clark, Wayne Grace, K Callan

Year: 2009

Runtime: 92 minutes

Country: US


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