Broken Bridges (2006)

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Review #239 of 365
Film: Broken Bridges (2006) [PG-13] 105 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $12.00
Where Viewed: United Artists Denver Pavilions Stadium 15, Denver, CO
When 1st Seen: 7 September 2006
Time: 5:15 p.m.

Directed by: Steven Goldmann
Written by: Cherie Bennett & Jeff Gottesfeld
Featured Cast (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
Toby Keith (Country Music Legend / feature film debut) • Lindsey Haun ("7th Heaven" & Adams Family Reunion) • Tess Harper (Crimes of the Heart) • Josh Henderson (Step Up) • Anna Maria Horsford (My Big Phat Hip Hop Family) • Willie Nelson (Country Music Legend & The Dukes of Hazzard) • Kelly Preston (Sky High) • Burt Reynolds (The Dukes of Hazzard & Smokey and the Bandit)
Soundtrack: Download now from Lindsey Haun & Toby Keith - Broken Bridges- or – order the CD below

Click for 'Review Lite' [a 150-word or less review of this film]
Last evening, in order to build increased publicity for the film, a nationwide special event movie premier was held at select theaters all over the USA for Toby Keith's on-screen, major motion picture debut film, Broken Bridges, directed by Steven Goldmann and written by Cherie Bennett & Jeff Gottesfeld. Prior to the film, there was an a half hour special featuring interviews with USA soldiers that have been honored by Toby's commitment to the men and women in the armed services, interviews with cast members, and performances of some of the music in the film by Toby Keith and Lindsey Haun. This special treat was great; but, perhaps too long. The host of the show was also a bit too cheesy occasionally asking the stars to answer absolutely nonsensical questions. Still, it was great to see the artists as themselves prior to watching them on screen. I will readily admit, that prior to the film, I wouldn't have been able to pick Toby Keith out of a line up of Billy Bob Thornton, Kenny Rogers, Garth Brooks, and Kenny Chesney. I admit that I had heard some of his music before, but I did not realize it was his music. So, getting to see the real Toby Keith prior to seeing him play the Country Music Singer, Bo Price, in the film, was very useful and cool. I could see instantly why he is incredibly popular on the country music scene. One of the other things that this kind of pre-film entertainment provides for the audience members, is a reminder that movie viewers often forget. These are real actors / real artists we watch up on the screen. They have feelings, emotions, and passions for what they do. Finally, it was great to get to know more about Lindsey Haun who both sings in the film and plays Bo's daughter. They developed an obvious musical connection in working on the film's theme song "Broken Bridges" and in preparing her to sing her solo debut, "Broken" which is a truly beautiful song even to those few of us that never quite developed the love of country music that grips so much of the nation in a 'twangy', balladic frenzy.

"Great music, an emotionally moving story…and an inside look at small southern town charm and etiquette, made for a worthwhile movie going experience."
The film begins with a tragic military training exercise accident in which five young men from the same little town in Tennessee are killed. As fate would have it, two of the five would have become brothers-in-law had their older sister, Angela (Kelly Preston), and older brother, Bo (Toby Keith) gotten married way back in the day. Instead, an unwed Angela, deserted by Bo, fled town so as not to endure the shame of her mother, Dixie Rose (Tess Harper), and father (Burt Reynolds) much less the entire town, and raise her baby on her own. With no support nor virtually any contact whatsoever with her family, Angela put herself through college, because a television news anchor in south Florida, and raised young Dixie Leigh into a fairly rebellious teenage girl. Needless to say, the deaths of their younger brothers, bring Bo and Angela back to the small town where they began before she was a professional journalist and he was a country music super star. Angela forces Dixie Leigh to come along despite arguments they've been having because she believes it will be good for the two of them to have a nice mother-daughter bonding road trip. Both Angela and Bo receive stand-offish welcomes from the town. No one has ever given them for leaving despite their success, the townspeople have always felt abandoned. This is compounded by the fact that a great many people resent what Bo did to Angela, some blame Angela from wreaking Bo, and Angela's father has never gotten over what Bo did to his daughter nor that his daughter ran away. So, the story starts out as an opportunity for a town to mourn the loss of their boys and morphs into a parable about forgiveness, returning to ones roots, and not being so quick to judge others without knowing the full story. There is a lot of healing to be done between Bo and Angela, Bo and Dixie Leigh (who has never met her father before), Angela and her father, and both Angela and Bo with the town. This makes for turbulent hurricane of emotions through which everyone must pass. Some might say there was too much jam packed into this film for there to be as much time to explore the real pain and the growing past it as might have made for a better movie. Meanwhile, there, of course, has to be time for several performances by Toby Keith, Willie Nelson, BeBe Winans, and Lindsey Haun. I promise they have fit the songs into the film such that they make sense. They don't just suddenly break into song like people in a musical. While I agree, on one hand, that a lot happens in a short time, and that there is less direct healing through cathartic monologues than through suggestion and chance encounters; yet, on the other hand, this permits for a more subtle and sensitive approach. We don't need, necessarily, to see the shouting / crying match to be able to tell it happened. This allows the film to accomplish a lot in a much shorter time. We learn the family secrets little by little and finally realize why things turned out the way they did and what needs to be done to repair them.

I cannot imagine Toby Keith fans not loving this movie. He does a great job of playing someone probably a lot like himself. Lindsey Haun was described by Kelly Preston in the pre-film interview as having the singing voice of an angel—which she does. While both are showing signs of aging it was great to see Mr. Reynolds and Ms Harper on screen together. They had wonderful chemistry and lit the way for their co-stars. Great music, an emotionally moving story—most people were teary-eyed at some point in the film—and an inside look at small southern town charm and etiquette, made for a worthwhile movie going experience. There were a couple of sound problems and the film itself looked washed out in spots. This may have been due to the digital projection system, it's not clear. Some critics may see the film as a commercial for Toby Keith, which it's hard to challenge that notion, but no more so than any other crossover star. The final analysis has to be in the credibility. Was he credible in the role? Absolutely. He shinned. His character bore the guilt of so many bad decisions he made in his youth. Who hasn't been in at least one of these at some point in their younger days? The grace with which he dissembles each one now that he is older, wiser, and more mentally fit to reconcile some of the dumb decisions is nearly worth the film itself. There is something for everyone in the film which will leave a lasting impression on what it means to be a family, and how we must all work to overcome the difficult times of our past.

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Toby KeithLindsey HaunTess Harper
Josh HendersonAnna Maria HorsfordWillie Nelson
Kelly PrestonBurt Reynolds
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Broken Bridges (2006) Review-lite [150-word cap]
Beginning with a tragic military accident in which five men from the same Tennessee town are killed, Broken Bridges, involves older siblings to two of the boys, current Miami newscaster, Angela (Kelly Preston) and her former boyfriend turned country music singer, Bo (Toby Keith), returning to reconcile their pasts with their hometown's present. Both bear burdens. Bo deserted a pregnant Angela feeling he couldn't handle the pressure of getting married and raising a child at that time. Angela ran out on her family after encounters with her father proved an unmarried mother in their town, was not going to go be well-received. For Toby Keith's big screen theatrical debut he does a great job. The cast of the film delivers a complex film with requisite spots for necessary reflection. Great music, an emotionally moving story, and an inside look at small southern town charm, made for a worthwhile movie experience.

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