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The Cowboy Way

Say this in favor of the modern cowboy romp that producer Brian Grazer has outfitted for Woody Harrelson and Kiefer Sutherland: It’s not a sequel. It’s not much more than mildly diverting, either, but that’s a bargain in what’s shaping up as a sad-sack summer, Pepper Lewis (Harrelson) and Sonny Gilstrap (Sutherland) work the rodeo circuit in New Mexico. They were friends until Pepper tied one on with a bottle instead of a steer and missed a roping championship. But when their buddy Nacho (Joaquin Martinez) leaves to find his daughter in bad-ass New York City and falls into the clutches of a crime boss (Dylan McDermott), the boys saddle up for the Big Apple.

The comedy comes in watching the cowboys butt heads with the city folk. They ogle the weirdos, camp out in Central Park, befriend a mounted policeman (Sam Shaw), round up the bad guys and, in the movie’s most spectacular scene, jump on horseback to chase a speeding train across the Manhattan Bridge.

Director Gregg Champion gets things moving, though he can’t disguise the thinness of the plot. Luckily, the actors cover for him. Sutherland has a quiet intensity that ropes you in. And Harrelson really whoops it up. Whether he’s cracking jokes or heads, using his hard-on as a hat rack or posing for underwear ads, he puts what life there is into a party that disconcertingly keeps pooping out.

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