Volume 91, Issue 96

Tuesday, March 31, 1998



Good ol' boys never meanin' no harm

©Deana Newcomb
WE'RE TOO SEXY FOR THESE SUITS. The incredibly talented and not-so-shabbily dressed stars of the new film The Newton Boys show off their modelling abilities and gun-slinging talents.

By Mark DiMenna
Gazette Staff

What could be a better recipe for success at the box office than a cast full of handsome young heartthrobs and a plot based on real-life events? It worked in Young Guns, and it definitely works again in the fun-filled new flick, The Newton Boys.

The movie chronicles the rise and fall of the most successful robbers in history: The Newtons. Matthew McConaughey plays Willis Newton, the charismatic leader and brain of the gang, who embarks on a crime spree following his release from a prison term he feels was undeserved.

Willis justifies robbery by reassuring himself that the banks will turn around and rob from the insurance companies.

The interesting rationalization of his career and his attempts to reconcile it with his lover, Louise Brown (played by ER mainstay Julianna Margulies), comprise a large part of the character development, but the audience gets a chance to learn about his brothers and their take on matters.

One, a gambling drunk (played by Ethan Hawke) and another, an ex-con (Vincent D'Onofrio), have no qualms about robbing from the rich and giving to themselves, while the youngest brother, played by Johnny Depp clone Skeet Ulrich, must choose between morality and brotherhood solidarity.

The story follows the incredible spree of bank robberies which lead up to the undertaking which proves too much for the Newtons to tackle – a $3 million train robbery. Throughout the film, which attempts to maintain close historical accuracy, there is a sense of good humour, with enough drama to avoid total abandonment to comedy.

The characters are given their depth in an unusual context which makes the criminals out to be the good guys, with the law portrayed as a check on freedom. The brothers are depicted as fun-loving good ol' boys, with lots of emphasis on their closeness as a family and their reluctance to actually resort to violence. In fact, one almost has the feeling that they are being told robbery is not so bad, although both perspectives are given voice.

The acting is all-around convincing, with fine performances turned in by everyone – even supporting characters. It's a little disappointing to have so many pretty faces in one line-up, since it can be a bit of a distraction from the story for those who will attend just to see their favourite celebrity in action.

The cinematography is nothing special, but this seems to serve well in focusing the attention on the actual events. The audience even gets a chance to hear from two of the real Newton boys, thanks to some interview clips played during the closing credits.

Canadian audiences ought to get a kick out of the portrayal of our police and citizens when the Newtons attempt a reckless midday robbery in downtown Toronto.

The gang makes it clear in no uncertain terms how they feel about Canucks. This incident also serves as an example of how wacky and thoroughly lucky this family was in their adventures, not to mention showing a nice mix of suspense and laughs in one sequence.

Anyone looking for a fun night at the movies will definitely enjoy The Newton Boys. Skeptical movie-goers may not have much to complain about, though – this film is certainly not likely to win any Oscars. If you're a fan of true story recounts or handsome Hollywood lads, you won't be disappointed.

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright © The Gazette 1998