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TEXAS RANGERS

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STARRING DYLAN MCDERMOTT, JAMES VAN DER BEEK, USHER RAYMOND, RACHAEL LEIGH COOK, ASHTON KUTCHER DIRECTED BY STEVE MINER

BUZZ-O-METER 4

WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL? If Van Der Beek in chaps doesn’t open this movie, Dawson might be up another kind of creek.

Set after the Civil War, this Young Guns-ish Western follows a group of young men who form the Texas Rangers, an alternative justice agency devoted to cleaning up the Wild West. The $30 million movie has a fairly wild history itself, having been through two studios, three directors, and several scripts (the latest by John Milius and Scream 3‘s Ehren Kruger). ”I wanted to do a contemporary version of an old-fashioned Western,” says Miner (Halloween: H20). ”I wanted to explore where law and justice come together, the sovereignty of land, people’s rights to live.” That, and he wanted to shoot a Gatling gun. ”We had to shoot one for rehearsal, and I was like, ‘Let me do that.’ It’s great to be king.” For Van Der Beek (Dawson’s Creek) and McDermott (The Practice), it was more about abandoning their TV personas during hiatus. ”After working on something that’s all about blurred lines, the simplicity of the Western appealed to me,” says McDermott, who wrapped just one day before having to shave his stubble and return to the courtroom. ”I needed a change to go out and play the cowboy to refresh me.” And Van Der Beek got to graduate from Capeside High. ”I had to learn a whole new set of skills — shooting, riding a horse,” he says. ”I know all about saddle soreness now.” (Aug. 25)

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