When I was assigned to review 8 Seconds, my enthusiasm was apathetic to say the least. "I can't stand even an hour of Luke Perry on 90210, so how would I get through two hours?" I thought. But I was pleasantly surprised. Perry didn't do all that badly, and the movie was actually entertaining!
8 Seconds is the life story of Lane Frost, perhaps the greatest bull rider in recent history. The pinnacle and tragic end of his illustrious career took place during the mid to late '80s while he was in his mid-20s.
The opening scene depicts young Lane watching his father round up a herd of bulls and proclaiming that someday he'll be riding those bulls instead of herding them. We then see him as a teenager riding bulls in competition when he's not shoveling manure on his dad's farm.
By this time you can tell he's not your average cowboy in ability or manner. He's beating the other competition by a mile, then offering tips and words of encouragement to an aspiring young bull rider while his compadres stand in the corner, chew tobacco, and poke fun at Lane for being such a goody-two-shoes.
Lane quickly starts climbing the ladder of bull riding success and before you know it, he reaches the top rung and becomes world champion.
Even though the acting in 8 Seconds is nothing more than average, it's nice to see Perry play a role beyond his usual brooding, rebel-without-a-cause characters. Still, his acting talents are a little questionable.
The best performance in the film would have to be Stephen Baldwin as Frost's best friend and fellow bull rider, Tuff Hedeman, who's the complete antithesis of Frost's good-boy image.
The worst performance by far is by Cynthia Geary (Northern Exposure) in her big screen debut as Lane's wife. She's the stereotypically submissive homemaker who is at Lane's every beck and call; she drives 400 miles just to wash his dirty underwear. Her sappy lines and overall lack of individuality will make most females in the audience want to heave their Goobers.
In an age when most world champion athletes have world champion egos to go along with them, 8 Seconds paints a picture of Frost not as a macho, egotistical bull rider, but more like Mother Teresa in cowboy boots. Not to say he isn't tough; he endures having a bull thrust a hoof into his groin, a scene guaranteed to make every male in the theater let out a groan of pain.
Even though Frost suffers a minor infidelity and a slight attitude change during his world champion status, he remains the same goody-goody he was at the beginning of the movie.
Frost has one major inner conflict: Nothing he accomplishes is good enough for his father who had successes as a bull rider himself. Frost spends his life searching for the thing most other males do, his father's approval. Frost isn't the typical Hollywood hero because other than his bull riding adventures he led a pretty boring life.
Overall, I recommend 8 Seconds, despite the fact that some of the scenes in-between the bull riding sequences can be drawn out and predictable. Those with short attention spans be forewarned, you may experience boredom and fidgety hands during these scenes. Stick with it though, because the bull riding makes up for it, and the end credits show you the real Lane Frost. Casting did itself proud for the striking resemblance most of the characters have to their real-life counterparts.
If you happen to venture out and see 8 Seconds, prepare yourself for the possibility that you may be sitting with an audience consisting of tobacco-chewing wanna-be cowboys with unshaven faces, oversized belt buckles, ridiculous shirts, 10-gallon hats, and the boots to match.
There also may be a few senior citizens scattered among the crowd whose Whisper 2000s are obviously on the fritz, and who, every now and then, scream to the person nearest to them, "What did he say?" But never mind them; the occasional "Wahoo!" from the cowboys will drown out any noise from the elderly folks.
Cool audience for a rodeo flick.
St. Petersburg High School