Clint Eastwood can't sing a lick -- he sounds like a blender with a frog in its throat. Yet as its director, Eastwood gave himself the lead in "Honkytonk Man," a soppy songfest about a tubercular pea picker who drives to Nashville, where he hemorrhages and dies. It's unfit for human consumption.
Eastwood, as sweaty old Uncle Red, is quite the cougher. And there's more spit in "Honkeytonk Man" than the Dodger dugout after a doubleheader. They ought to rename this thing "Our Man Phlegm."
When he's not using his guitar for a spitoon, he's lip-to-lip with a moonshine bottle. He's drunk when he arrives at his sister's place in the Dust Bowl circa 1930, where he picks up his adoring, 14- year-old nephew Whit and heads for Tennessee.
Eastwood's son Kyle costars as Whit. He's an inoffensive child actor, but we're not talking Barrymore or even O'Neal here. The kid drives his uncle to Nashville for an audition at the Grand Ole Opry and along the way they have boring adventures. Whit steals chickens and visits an Okie whorehouse. Meanwhile, they run into a number of gratuitous characters, including a curvaceous waitress (Alexa Kenin) who is tone deaf. She proves it by singing "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean."
As bad as she sounds, there's still Eastwood and his whiskey whisper, gasping out none of your favorite hits. Whatever happened to dubbing? He's the whole soundtrack, except when he gets up the gall to sing before, with and/or after Linda Hopkins, the late Marty Robbins, the Texas Playboys.
Wonder how much Eastwood, also the producer, had to cough up for this one? HONKEYTONK MAN -- Avalon, K-B Cerberus, K-B Congressional, NTI Buckingham, Springfield Mall, Showcase Fair City.