Tex (1982)

29 Jan


Smith’s Verdict: ****

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

When American audiences feel that all a movie really needs in order to satisfy them is a crime caper and a chase scene, it’s rare for the 1980s that a movie like “Tex” comes along. This is a movie about real people in realistic situations and the whole movie is just about a few weeks in their lives. What’s even more surprising and great about this movie is that most of these people are teenagers. They’re some of the most engaging group of teenagers I’ve seen in any movie. They’re the characters of “Tex,” adapted from a young adult novel by S.E. Hinton. S.E. Hinton is an author who clearly understands teenage talk, problems, and behavior (she also proved that with “The Outsiders,” one of my favorite books). “Tex” is faithful to the novel and even more alert towards its teenage characters.

The main focuses among these teenagers are two brothers named Tex and Mason McCormick. Tex (Matt Dillon) is a simple-minded yet engaging fifteen-year-old and Mason (Jim Metzler) is a cynical, basketball-playing eighteen-year-old. They live alone in Bixby, Oklahoma. Their mother is long dead and their father is a rodeo cowboy who hardly ever comes home and forgets to send the boys money at times. So the boys have to raise themselves (well actually, it’s Mason raising Tex) and they do a good job of it. But they need money, food, and heat. So Mason is forced to sell Tex’s beloved horse and that brings Tex in a world of emotions and partial hatred towards his brother.

We meet their friends—Tex’s motorcycle-riding best friend Johnny (Emilio Estevez) and Johnny’s smart aleck feminist of a sister named Jamie (Meg Tilly) whom Tex has a crush on. Their father (Ben Johnson) is a strict man who doesn’t want Tex and Mason associating with his kids—at one point, he even commands Johnny to promise not to be Tex’s best friend anymore. What he doesn’t see (or doesn’t even want to believe) is that his kids are just as unpredictable as Tex and Mason. We also meet another kid named Lem (Phil Brock) who got a girl pregnant, married her, and moved to Tulsa in order to care for his new wife and the newborn baby. But he also deals drugs. Tex doesn’t realize this, but Mason has known it a long time, even when he seems very happy that his baby is born. This situation leads to a violent scene in which Lem and Tex, who is basically looking for trouble, are caught up in a jam with one of Lem’s customers.

The story includes a lot of conflict, conversations amongst the characters, and more. This is a movie about events in these kids’ everyday lives and because we believe in these kids, we stay focused on their story. How the story develops in “Tex” is more to the point than actually what happens when it develops.

“Tex” is very well-acted. Matt Dillon is appealing as this simple-minded central character named Tex, and Jim Metzler is great as his knowing-well older brother Mason. Actually, I believe Metzler has the more complicated role than Dillon’s, because he has to play surrogate father to his stubborn younger brother and constantly keep him in line. I truly believed in these characters so much that I didn’t really care much for the plot. They’re realistic teenagers given room to learn and grow and I was interested in watching them do just those.

“Tex” is a movie that seems like true events are occurring, and I think that was what S.E. Hinton was originally shooting for when she wrote the novel it was based upon. “Tex” is a great movie, though it’s sadly overlooked by many. I hope more people seek this out and admire what this movie has to offer.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: