Monday is the day for movies here at Neeks and Gerds. From sci-fi, to westerns, to sci-fi westerns, we watch it all. Read Movie Mondays to find out how films rate on the N&G scale.
This week’s movie: True Grit.
I’m not a huge fan of westerns. In fact, the only ones I’ve seen are Back to the Future Part III, and the Firefly series (and I don’t think either of those even count). The most familiar I’ve gotten with the Old West is through Red Dead Redemption. Therefore, it was an interesting experience getting to know the western genre through the eyes of a 14-year old girl.
What is True Grit?
True Grit is centered around the story of Mattie Ross. Mattie Ross is young, but far from inexperienced. She bargains and trash talks just as good as (if not better than) any veteran of the Old West. These traits come in handy when her father is murdered by a hired hand named Tom Chaney. The vast majority of True Grit follows Mattie as she seeks revenge on her father’s killer.
True Grit‘s namesake is the word grit. Grit is the characteristic of being motivated and dedicated to reaching one’s goals. I only mention this because I had never heard the word used before seeing this movie. Young Mattie Ross, realizing she isn’t likely to find Chaney on her own, seeks out a partner with “true grit.” She finds what she’s looking for in U.S. Marshal Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn. Cogburn is a hilarious old man who, despite his being a lawman, seems to find joy in killing.
Ross and Cogburn, after a good bit of bargaining, set out into the Old West in search of Chaney. Unsurprisingly, they encounter a number of major obstacles along the way that hinder their progress.
The main thing I love about True Grit is its diversity. Sure, it’s a western, but it’s not all about gun-slinging and revenge. There are moments when you will laugh (it’s actually a pretty funny movie), when you will hold your breathe in suspense, and even when you might find yourself getting a bit teary-eyed. True Grit is an adventure that takes you from the highs of a young girl, to the lows of an old man, and vice versa.
There doesn’t seem to be a moment in True Grit that lacks entertainment. When there’s no shooting or arguing going on, there’s usually hilarious dialogue or sweat-inducing suspense. As envisioned by the Coen brothers (the directors of True Grit), the Old West is far from boring.
It seems difficult to find a major fault in True Grit. The main criticism seems to be that it’s a remake that some people didn’t find necessary or appropriate. True Grit first appeared in the cinema in 1969 starring John Wayne. It was the first film adaptation of the novel by Charles Portis. While I understand that it’s difficult to replace the original version of any film, I’m not sure I agree here. Then again, I haven’t seen the 1969-version of True Grit, so it’s difficult to say. I’ll let you decide.
Geeks who have seen the Firefly series probably won’t see too many connections between captain Mal’s crew and the main characters of True Grit. I would guess this is mainly because the former are outlaws and the latter are the law.
Red Dead Redemption fans will feel more familiar with True Grit. You’ll hear language that will remind you of John Martson. If you’re like me, you’ll also make the connection between Mattie Ross and Jack Martson. They’re both the children of murdered, farm-running fathers, and they’re both seeking revenge.
Overall, True Grit isn’t a very geeky movie. Not in the traditional sense, anyway. Nonetheless, I’m sure most geeks will appreciate what True Grit has to offer.
Nerds will notice and appreciate the intellect of young Mattie Ross. At only14, she can bargain with a grown man come out on top. She knows the law just as well as any sheriff. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Ross considers herself a bit of a nerd.
Without spoiling anything, I’ll say that nerds may also appreciate the apparent validity of the last few scenes of True Grit. I know I did.
True Grit is a great movie. However, it may not exactly fit in to your collection of geeky (or nerdy) movies. I recommend geeks and nerds to rent it. Western-lovers, however, may enjoy adding this to their collection. You can purchase it here.