Costner and Reynolds together again, doing sort of what they do best: making really long-ass movies. Okay, it's Costner who goes for length, and Reynolds who sometimes goes for budget... when Costner's involved. They tried to keep costs down on this one, anyway. On to the story. In case you didn't know about the Hatfields and the McCoys, and are too lazy to get to Wikipedia, this should do nicely. Of course, if you're like me, you might wonder how the story of these two families could be so perfect for TV. All these major plot developments, the great scenery, that kind of stuff. Somehow it seems a little too cut and dry. But there's some nice moments, a couple of points in the script where they try to reach for greatness. Not bad for a 6-hour effort!
No, the thing that stands out pretty well is the cast, so let's get into that. Kevin Costner's star has fallen a bit since the 90s, but he takes a risk here playing the titular head of the Hatfields, because his character's not terribly sympathetic. Nor the Hatfields in general, for that matter. Bill Paxton does solid work as the titular head of the McCoy clan, but I must confess that I couldn't help but wonder what Tom Wilkinson would've done with the role. Going in credits order, we come next to Matt Barr, the eye candy of the piece, and the story's proverbial Romeo. There's a couple Juliets. The first is Roseanna McCoy played by Lindsay Pulsipher, who simply pulsates in the tragic role. I dare say that she's the new Karen Sillas, but there's no photo of her, so never mind. The next is Jena Malone, who's clearly the new Mary-Louise Parker. She also does a fine job. I've liked her since Contact! And Tom Berenger was damn near unrecognizable when I first saw him. He's clearly left his Substitute days behind, and relishes playing the bad guy here. Okay, bad-guy-ish. Still, I couldn't help but wonder what Oliver Reed would've done with the role. Same as with the attorney Perry Cline. Somewhere between Oliver Reed and Jon Lovitz with him. He did okay as the attorney; frankly, I'm still on the fence. Powers Boothe was also pretty good as the judge of the Hatfield family. Mare Winningham does superb as the McCoy matriarch. There's her moment when she's had enough of the feud and walks into the Hatfield firing squad holding up two pistols. And of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention alpha-male Andrew Howard as 'Bad Frank' Phillips, the Pinkerton turned hired outlaw. He rides high for a while but follows a strangely similar arc as Robert Ford, whose celebrity days end in bloodshed. Howard was excellent in the role... still, I couldn't help but wonder what James Russo would've done with it. Last but not least, there's Andy Gathergood as Skunkhair Tom Wallace, and I couldn't help but wonder what Adrien Brody would've...
In conclusion, I question the veracity of the plot of Hatfield & McCoy, but ultimately I think Johnse had the right idea when he decided to go to Oregon and leave all that bad karma behind.
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan