A Nerd on the Range, Fit for Socks But Not Boots

Even after Golden Throats, we're still tortured by Hollywood's musical horrors: high-drama hard-rock (Keanu Reeves's Dogstar, Russell Crowe's 30 Odd Foot of Grunts) to negligible alt-country (Bacon Brothers, Billy Bob Thornton). So why should a B-list comedy star's country record be any different? Maybe it's because Rick Moranis knows that he shouldn't be doing this, which makes for a good punchline. He applies a talky baritone and keeps the production low-key, from honky-tonk to rockabilly chug. True to the title, his persona is a cowboy nerd not fit to wear boots—kind of like a brainier, mush-free Billy Crystal in City Slickers. He purposely mangles perfectly good rhymes ("Nine More Gallons"); has a restraining order in his love song ("Press Pound"); stays home with CNN, e-mail, and pop-up she-males ("I Ain't Goin' Nowhere"); stands tall in his socks as he weaves tablecloths ("Wheaties Box," where he won't appear); and reels off every three-letter acronym he's tired of ("SOS"). Even after Brokeback Mountain, Moranis's unmanliness is bound to make the country crowd uneasy. But he welcomes, encourages, and relishes ridicule—a braver stance than even the Brokeback boys staked out.

 
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