The Reel Review

B+

John Diehl (Miami Vice, Jurassic Park III) stars in this modern day romantic Western about a washed up, aging cowboy who gets a job as a ranch hand. Over time, he regains his sense of self, thanks to a trusting ranch owner (Jean Louisa Kelly) who decides to take a chance on him.

Jean Louisa Kelly and John Diehl in Out of the Wild

World reknowned horse trainer Mark Rashid’s adaptation of his 2008 debut fiction novel is a straightforward one – a sad, broken cowboy with a sad past finds a way to rebuild his soul by caring for someone else. The dialogue is corny, the score’s incessant guitar strums are corny and oddly, a major crux of the book – the emotional bond between the cowboy and a wild mustang on the ranch – gets glossed over in the film adaptation.

John Diehl and Jean Louisa Kelly in Out of the Wild.

But you know what? In this case, corny still works, thanks to the subtle, realistic performances of its two very likable stars, John Diehl and Jean Louisa Kelly (Uncle Buck; Yes, Dear). It culminates in a heartwarming, feel good ending while showcasing some of the rugged beauty of the rural American West. Out of the Wild is proof that you don’t need a big budget to tell a really sweet, charming story.

REEL FACTS

John Diehl (far right, in yellow), with the cast of Miami Vice of the late 1980s.

• John Diehl lives in Nashville with his wife. Their son Magnus (Freaky, Nashville) appears in Out of the Wild as the stuttering ranch hand, Jim.

Out of the Wild author/screenwriter Mark Rashid is an acclaimed horse trainer who has written dozens of books on the subject. His most popular is “Horses Never Lie: The Heart of Passive Leadership.”

• Jean Louisa Kelly is also a singer. Her song “Valley of Fire” is in the film’s score.

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