"That's right! Ridin' it. I'm gonna ride it again and again, as much as I want to!"
"No you're not! You think you are, but you ain't!"
As I watch this movie, I imagine all these Hollywood executives huddled in a conference room just throwing out ideas to a blustery president who runs the film division. The president hates every idea thrown his way, no matter how good it sounds… until one executive sarcastically says, "How bout John Travolta and Debra Winger get married, and he has to ride a mechanical bull to save his marriage." The executives all chuckle to themselves at how silly the idea sounds, until the president stands up from his oversized chair and says, "I love it! Here's $20 million, go make me a movie."
Meet Bud Davis (John Travolta). He moves to Houston, Texas to live with his uncle. He gets a job at the local refinery, and hangs out at the local bar, called Gilley's. There, he meets Sissy (Debra Winger). They have a whirlwind romance ("whirlwind" is reviewer-speak for "undeveloped") and get married. Everything is kosher until Gilley's bar installs a mechanical bull, which becomes an instant hit. Enter Wes (Scott Glenn). He's the new guy at Gilley's, who can ride the mechanical bull like no one's business. Naturally, Bud is jealous (I mean, who wouldn't be?) and suspects that his new bride likes Wes more than him.
I just don't get it. It's a movie about mechanical bull riding, people! From what I understand, this was a fairly popular movie in 1980. It may have been due to the great country soundtrack, or the fact that John Travolta was a hot commodity following the success of "Saturday Night Fever." Either way, those two pluses can't balance out the overwhelming negative that is the laaaaaaaame script.
Oh, back to the movie. Bud starts a fight with Wes outside of a diner, and gets beat up. Sissy and Wes spend some time together, which only adds fuel to the fire between Wes and Bud. This greatly upsets Bud, who becomes progressively verbally abusive as the movie goes on. In hopes of saving his new marriage, and salvaging his waning self-respect, Wes decides to enter Gilley's Mechanical Bull Riding Contest™.
Paramount delivers "Urban Cowboy" in Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1. One thing I have to say about Paramount's effort video effort here is that it is especially mediocre. The scenes in Gilley's bar are way too dark, and lack the definition I was expecting. Other scenes suffer from grain, soft colors, and specs of dirt on the dull print itself. C'mon Paramount, you know you could have done a much better job.
The audio is presented here in Dolby 2.0 Surround, Dolby 5.1 Surround, and a French Dolby Mono track. This is the one area where the DVD excels, as the incredible soundtrack comes to life on my system (much like Paramount's release of "Saturday Night Fever"). Everything sounds great, and my speakers got a nice workout here. Also, there are no audio dropouts present.
The animated DVD menu plays music from Gilley's bar, while we are treated to clips from the movie. Aesthetically, it looks very nice. Options include: "Play", "Set Up", "Special Features", and "Scene Selection." I was surprised, however, that this movie had the subtitle options "Portuguese" and "Brazilian." When was the last time you saw that?
This DVD is very light on bonus features, which is completely expected from Paramount. The first one is relatively short "Outtakes" of Debra Winger and John Travolta dancing (with her, and solo), shown in rough-cut form. Next is the "Rehearsal Footage" which show Debra Winger and John Travolta, both together and separately, ride the mechanical bull.
If you like mechanical bulls, then this is THE movie for you. Stop reading this review and go out and buy it right now! Otherwise, you may want to skip this movie. On a side note, I'm shocked at how good a job Paramount did on the audio for this DVD, yet what a poor video job they did. In the spirit of the holiday season, I'll give it a rent it, if just for the soundtrack and the quote I used to start this revieww off with.