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SILVERADO. Directed and produced by Lawrence Kasdan for Columbia; written by Lawrence and Mark Kasdan. Starring Kevin Kline, Scott Glenn, Danny Glover, Kevin Costner and Brian Dennehy. Rated PG-13 (violence).


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Yahoo! The good, old-fashioned, B-movie western is alive and well again! And, mercifully, there have been some improvements. Silverado has good acting, the dialogue is much more entertaining than in those old horse operas, and the characters actually have a sense of humor.

In the best western tradition, the plot details of Silverado are inconsequential. It's the good guys versus the bad, pure and simple. The actors completely understand and respect their places in this artificial, but exciting, universe. Don't expect realism from Silverado. But do expect a ton of fun and excitement.

The cast is excellent. They form an ensemble of perfect western types, but nonetheless display a good measure of 1980s wit. Emmett (Glenn) is the standard strong, silent one. Paden (Kline) is also strong and (mostly) silent, but with an irrational streak. Mal (Glover) is also a strong, silent variation, and Jake (Costner) is the crazy kid.

Outside of the good-guy fraternity, Dennehy gives another one of his cool, assured performances, this time as a slick bad guy. John Cleese (yes, the John Cleese of Monty Python) delivers a restrained but still funny small performance as a hard-line sheriff. And Linda Hunt is memorable as the saloon-keeper with a heart of gold.

The main story of Silverado takes a little too long getting started. But the introduction of each of the main characters, and the explanation of how they happen to be working together, are quite entertaining and provide some of the movie's most memorable scenes.

That said, as a whole, also, Silverado is too long. In his zeal to re-create the western of his youth, writer/director Kasdan tries to include every kind of sub-plot imaginable. And the result is more loose ends than one should expect in such a stylish movie. But Silverado has so many wonderful moments that it's easy to excuse a few irrelevant ones.

In particular, though, the attempt at a romantic sub-plot should have been aborted. A supposed triangle featuring Kline, Glenn and Rosanna Arquette is too underdeveloped to be interesting. And it just gets in the way of the main story.

Parents shouldn't take the PG-13 rating too seriously in this case. It's a result of body count, not graphic violence. A great many people are dispatched in Silverado, in faithful imitation of the old westerns. But most of the violence is so obviously make-believe that it can't offend.

Aside from its running time (at 2+ hours, it might be too long for the youngest buckaroos) there's nothing to keep the whole family from enjoying it.

July 31, 1985

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