A tight, concise Western that pays more homage than it does re-invent the genre, 'True Grit' isn't quite the masterpiece some were expecting, but it's so much fun to watch that many will leave the theater thirsting for more ... of everything. Ethan and Joel Coen won a Best Picture Oscar for their 2007 adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's 'No Country for Old Men,' a contemporary Western that was bold, brutal, and beautiful. That film essentially handed Josh Brolin a career upgrade (and Javier Bardem an Oscar), but it was also something of a comeback for the Coen brothers as well. Before 'No Country,' they had turned out three films in a row that, while fine and entertaining in their own unique ways, weren't exactly on the same cult-status level as films like 'Fargo,' 'The Big Lebowski,' 'Miller's Crossing,' 'Raising Arizona' ... and 'The Hudsucker Proxy.' (Sorry, I had to sneak it in there.)
After having tremendous success with one Western, the Coen boys decided to give it another go with 'True Grit,' which is both a remake of a 1969 John Wayne film and an adaptation of a Charles Portis novel. It's easy to see why the brothers would opt for 'True Grit' -- its quirky storyline and slightly hokey characters play right to the filmmakers' strengths. It's a film that also allows them to overdose on vibrant, scenic shots of rural America during the 1800s; to bask in hard-boiled and savory dialogue, and to introduce the world to a new, gotta-put-her-in-everything-right-now young actress. The 1969 'True Grit,' like those three Coen bros. movies before 'No Country,' will always have a place in our nostalgic hearts, but the 2010 version kicks it up a notch, proving that great actors tend to age like fine wine, becoming ever more enjoyable with each new performance. One could easily say that about the Coen brothers as well.