We gave it a B+
STARRING Matt Damon, Jeff Bridges, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper, Hailee Steinfeld
WRITTEN BY Joel and Ethan Coen
DIRECTED BY Joel and Ethan Coen
Don’t think of it as a remake of the old John Wayne Western; think of it as a brand-new adaptation of a great 1968 novel by Charles Portis about a drunken U.S. marshal named Reuben J. ”Rooster” Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) who gets hired by a 14-year-old girl (relative newcomer Hailee Steinfeld) to find the man who shot and killed her father. Or else think of it as a reunion, bringing the Coen brothers and Bridges back together again for the first time in 12 years since the Dude lost his rug in The Big Lebowski. But whatever you do, don’t think of it as a remake of a John Wayne movie.
”I’ve never even seen the original John Wayne movie,” insists Matt Damon, who plays a Texas Ranger named LeBoeuf who ends up joining Rooster’s posse in the Coen brothers’ retelling. ”The only reason I know that I’m playing Glen Campbell’s old part is that people keep asking me if I’m going to be singing in the movie. But our movie is totally different. Joel and Ethan just stumbled on the book and were like, ‘Oh, God, this is terrific. The dialogue is just fantastic!”’ The Coens shot Grit in Texas and New Mexico earlier this year and required Damon and his costars to saddle up, something Damon has done more than once for a job. ”What, you never saw Geronimo: An American Legend?” jokes the star, who also played a cowboy in 2000’s All the Pretty Horses. And no, Damon won’t be warbling his rendition of singer-actor Campbell’s hit ”True Grit,” which received a Best Original Song Oscar nomination for the original 1969 film.