Barstool Cowboy

Barstool Cowboy opens with a monologue from our titular cowboy (Mick, played by Tim Woodward), explaining to us that he’s just been dumped. One of the reasons his ex gave for dumping him was that he spent too much time “hiding behind his beard,” so with some advice from fellow bar patrons, he shaves it off. Mick swears to avoid women and remain loyal only to his barstool for three solid months, but his vow lasts less than a day.

Less than twenty-four hours into his vow he meets Arcy (Rachel Lien), a nineteen-year-old art college student who, by chance, ends up outside Mick’s watering hole of choice. When Mick goes outside to see what Arcy (channeling Avril Lavigne) is up to, the two make a connection. At that point Mick leads her back into bar and begins buying drinks for his new underage friend.

For the next hour we get to watch this whirlwind romance develop. Arcy is attracted to Mick’s lifestyle. She wants to “follow him around all day long,” just to see what he does. Mick is attracted to Arcy because, well, she’s a hot college girl twenty-five years his junior who wants to hang out with him. Although the age different between the two is pointed out within the film (Arcy admits that she “doesn’t know who Mick Jagger is”), no one else within the confines of the film seem to think it’s weird not even the regulars at the local country and western bar, where Mick takes Arcy dancing.

The biggest problem with Barstool Cowboy is the lack of character development. On one hand you’ve got Mick, an unemployed “cowboy” whose lack of income doesn’t prevent him from renting a motel for a few days, paying $160 cash for three bottles of wine, or hanging out at the bar drinking for months at a time. On the other hand we have Arcy, who is either the world’s most adventurous college freshman or the dumbest. Within a few hours of meeting Mick, nineteen-year-old Arcy is skipping school, drinking beer, smoking dope, and sleeping in Mick’s bed (in that non-sexual way that Michael Jackson sleeps with children in the same bed). The relationship develops so fast in fact, that Arcy trusts Mick enough to sleep in his hotel room, and Mick trusts Arcy enough to leave her alone in his apartment. Boy have I been hanging out at the wrong bars! The biggest stumbling block is that we’re kind of left wondering why these two would want to spend more than five minutes in one another’s company, especially given the film’s ending.

Throughout its 90 minute running time, Barstool Cowboy actually gets quite a bit right. The story, such as it is, is well told. Many of the camera shots are imaginative and nicely framed. Throughout the story, we get glimpses of how Mick and Arcy can help one another grow (for example, Arcy expands Mick’s horizons by taking him to an Indian restaurant for dinner). For an indie film, Barstool Cowboy’s soundtrack is terrific. Many of the film’s songs are tightly woven into the film and are used to directly convey information to the audience.

Writer/director/producer Mark Thimijan’s Barstool Cowboy is a little rough around the edges but definitely worth catching, especially if you’ve ever sat at a barstool trying to forget about a woman.

I’ll drink to that.

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