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‘The Cowboy Way’ (PG-13)

By Joe Brown
Washington Post Staff Writer
June 03, 1994

"The Cowboy Way" is a weak rehashing of the "Crocodile Dundee" gimmick: two modern-day cowboys taming the Wild East. The tired formula may still have some life left in it, but not this "Way." This dud ranch is saddled with the charisma-free teaming of dumb guns Woody Harrelson and Kiefer Sutherland.

Estranged former rodeo roping team partners Pepper (the dim, irresponsible one, played by Harrelson) and Sonny (the crankily dutiful one, played by a bored-looking Sutherland) leave the New Mexico range to rescue distressed damsel Teresa (Cara Buono), daughter of their old Cuban buddy Nacho.

Teresa's been smuggled into Manhattan by sweatshop operators and held for extra ransom. The baddest of the baddies (Dylan McDermott, overdoing a Snidely Whiplash impression) takes a shine to Teresa, and keeps her for himself. The bickering buddies are helped out in their quest by a New York cop who wishes he was a cowboy (we've all run into him, haven't we?). Chases ensue. On horseback, in gridlock traffic, naturally.

Too many of the Marlboro Men-in-mean-Manhattan scenes are lassoed and yanked straight of "Midnight Cowboy"; for instance, at a "decadent" penthouse party, Pepper gets tapped by a predatory fashion scout to model Calvin Klein underwear. And the meager fish-out-of-water hijinks -- Pepper and Sonny are rude in the Waldorf-Astoria, Pepper and Sonny camp out in Central Park -- aren't nearly as funny as director Gregg Champion wishes.

This witlessly silly action-comedy has too little of either. Just say no "Way."

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