Lean on Pete

If temptation is truly a sin, then that has to apply to movie trailers that intentionally create a false impression to lure you into the theater.

Lean on PeteThere are times when the most artistically talented person associated with a new movie release is the one responsible for the trailer. Frequently, you watch previews and find yourself so emotionally attracted to a film that you can’t wait for it to reach a local theater.

On the other hand, one of the most disappointing things about any film occurs when the only appealing moments are those that were displayed in the trailer. That happened recently with Foxtrot and occurred again with Lean on Pete.

To begin with, Pete joins Foxtrot as two of the most depressing movies you are likely to see in 2018. Pete, which lasts a little over two hours, drags you through the life of a 16-year-old boy with no family who is trying to find a bit of love in the world. Let me just say that he fails to do so.

Charlie Plummer, who you last saw playing John Paul Getty III in All the Money in the World, plays Charley Thompson, a teenager living with an alcoholic father (played by Travis Fimmel) whose principal hobby is to find a woman who doesn’t mind having sex with him. You learn that Charley’s mother abandoned him long ago, and he is left on his own when his father is brutally shot and beaten by the husband of one of his lovers.

Thereafter, Charley hooks up with a quarter-horse trainer named Del Montgomery (Steve Buscemi), a sarcastic man who will hang on to a horse only if  it is able to win. Chloë Savigny plays Bonnie, his jockey, and she discourages Charley from getting attached to any horse, noting that they are not pets.

In the process, Charley is left in desperation when Del decides to sell his favorite horse, Lean on Pete, to a Mexican outlet that will obviously find a way to salvage a few bucks by slaughtering him. As a result, Charley leaves in the middle of the night with Pete, stealing Del’s truck and attached trailer. From then on in the movie resembles a version of Dante’s depiction of Hell where a kid takes a horse over the river Styx in the hope of finding a better life.

As noted earlier, disaster waits around every turn for both Charley and Pete. On the edge of starvation, he repeatedly runs from the police in the hope of traveling from Portland, Oregon to Laramie, Wyoming to find an aunt who cared for him when he was much younger.

Along the way Steve Zahn gives an absolutely horrific performance as a guy named Silver, a homeless oaf who offers Charley a place to sleep in his beat-up trailer. To give you an idea of just how bad this film is, Charley has to beat Silver senseless in order to try to retrieve the few dollars that he had been trying to save. It is not an exaggeration to say that this series of events characterizes the entire film.

While I think that Mr. Plummer is proving to be a very talented actor, I hope he is able to find some meaningful roles that exceed his performances as young Mr. Getty and his attempts to save this regrettable movie. In the meantime, if your definition of entertainment is to watch a film that creates the impression that joy is a four-letter word, then this film is for you.