50 Movies for 50 States Part Two: The `80s – #25 – Montana, Film – The Stone Boy

#25 – Montana, The Stone Boy

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The Stone Boy (1983), directed by Christopher Cain, written by Gina Berriault, with Robert Duvall, Glenn Close, Jason Presson, Dean Cain, filmed in Cascade, Montana and Great Falls, Montana

I’m back. For how long? Who knows. If you used to pay attention to what I did, you would know that at one point I regularly updated this column. Then I stopped. What happened? I got busy. So I stopped because I wasn’t having fun. Because fun is all I expect to get out of this site and I was writing but this site wasn’t keeping up its end of the bargain. But then I felt guilty because my fellow bloglords were continuing to keep the site alive with new content and I was all, “Fuck you guys! I’m going home!” So I came back and updated this column a few more times with what I would consider some of my most uninspired performances ever. Sorry, Maine and Maryland and what ever other states I may have given the ol pity fuck. I put a little more effort into Massachusetts because it let me hone my skills in racial humor and Michigan because it gave me a chance to talk about rasslin, but then I hit Minnesota and Mississippi and Missouri and I was like, “Ugh. These movies are killing me.” Then Montana came along and it was THIS movie and I was like, “Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.”

It used to be a lot easier to write because when I first started writing here I was just coming off of a job where I had to file two or three news stories a day. So back then it was easy for me to crap out columns with ease and while they wouldn’t all be solid gold, at least they didn’t stink.

Now it’s harder because I’m back in school. I’m a stay-at-home dad which means I’m really fucking good at reading bedtime stories and cleaning shit — both literally and figuratively — but I’ve kind of slacked off on my writing skills. But, like I said, I’m back in school. That means I’m writing again. I’m writing big boring papers about IDEA regulations and teaching methodology, sure, but at least I’m writing.

So tonight I wrote this ass long post on a friend’s Facebook thread about Disney movies and how the older movies were all kinds of nightmare fuel for children when I thought to myself: “Why am I wasting my time writing on Facebook when I could writing on my web site that I pay 12 bucks a month to maintain and potentially reach an even larger imaginary audience?” So here I am!

And I’m perfectly aware that it was Montana that caused me to hang up the gloves. And maybe it’s this movie that’s been keeping me away from the site for so long. Maybe I just didn’t feel like talking about. I don’t feel like talking about it now. But lemme see…

Okay, The Stone Boy. Great title, huh? It’s the kind of title that just hearing it in my ear sockets makes me not want to watch it. I think there’s an expression: Dull as a rock? Is that it? Okay, so it just sounds dull. But beggars can’t be choosers when it comes to Montana because there are not a lot of movies directed in Montana PERIOD, let alone movies directed in the 1980s.

Speaking of which, maybe I should restate the purpose of this column. I’m watching one movie from each of the 50 states in the U.S. of A. I did it before and it was fun. This time I’m watching nothing but movies that came out in the 80s.

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So, yes. Where were we? The Stone Boy. Came out in 1984. It’s a drama with a capital D. A weepy sentimental drama that came out in 1984? Timeless. Actually this movie is kind of timeless, because in Montana in the 80s, everyone dressed like cowboys and farmers so you don’t get that whole 80s movie thing where you know it’s a movie that takes place in the 80s because everyone’s wearing neon leg warmers and spandex. So that’s something, although you still have to deal with the fact that it’s about people who dress up as cowboys and farmers. Not a Western fan. And let’s be honest … there just aren’t a whole lot of good movies about farmers. Not that this movie is about farmers. Or maybe it is. I don’t know. There’s a guy wearing a cowboy hat on the poster.

Okay, movie trivia junk. The film was directed by Christopher Cain, whose directed The Principal with John Belushi’s untalented brother and Young Guns, which you’ve probably heard of, and that Karate Kid movie with Hilary Swank. And Gone Fishin’! Christopher Cain is the father of Dean Cain, who was Superman on TV. Dean Cain has a very minor part in this movie as… aw, hell … let’s just get this over with.

Dean Cain plays Eugene Hillerman, who within the first 10 minutes of the film gets shot in the face. So, if anyone ever asks, “What’s that movie where Dean Cain gets shot in the face within the first 10 minutes of the film?” You can be like “THE STONE BOY!” And then everyone can think you’re weird. Anyway, it’s an accident and not a justifiable homicide. Dean Cain or Eugene Hillerman gets shot in the face by his little brother while the two are headed out on a duck hunting expedition. What happens is, little bro — who is carrying a rifle and walking behind his older brother — gets the gun snagged in a wire fence and the next thing you know — BLAM-O! The only thing missing is that fucking cartoon dog from the Nintendo game popping up from behind the bushes and laughing! Okay, that made me laugh.

Thus begins little bro’s transition into The Stone Boy of whom the film gets its title. The Stone Boy doesn’t do much. He doesn’t talk. He kind of stares off into space. Some of the townsfolk think it wasn’t an accident because of his inability to recall what happened. It’s called trauma. He’s traumatized. But to the fine people of Whoknowswhere, Montana, it’s like, “That boy ain’t right.” Wikipedia lists this under “Autism-related films.” But this movie doesn’t have anything to do with autism. PTSD, more likely.

I know what you’re thinking. The plot I’m describing doesn’t sound like enough material for an hour and 1/2 long movie unless, like … all the townsfolk think this kid is guilty and there’s this big trial and they have to hire a big-shot lawyer played by … I dunno … Paul Newman to prove his innocence. Yeah. That doesn’t happen. This is more low-key. All of the action here is internal. As in emotional. So you’ve got to have some more characters, because Dean Cain is dead and the “stone boy” doesn’t do shit. So you’ve got the kid’s parents, who are played by Glenn Close and Robert Duvall, and they both fucking rule as actors. So that saves this movie from being a total snoozefest. The storyline with the parents is that they’re trying to come to grips with what happened with their son dying and all. Hrm … now that I think about it, The Stone Boy kind of reminds me of Ordinary People in a way, but … I don’t know … just not as good. I guess the success of Ordinary People does kind of explain how a movie with such a downer of a premise and low-level appeal attracted two fine actors like Close and Duvall, not to mention how it was able to receive major distribution from 20th Century Fox.

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Oh! Did I mention that Wilford Brimley is in this? I love that guy. He genuinely brought a small to my face when he showed up. And I’m just reading this now — I’m not going to pretend I noticed it when I watched this how many hundred months or so ago — but Tom Waits shows up as … get this … “petrified man at carnival.” Genius! And Linda Hamilton is in it too and she’s super young and I did notice her.

What else can I say? It’s a weepy drama from the early 80s involving people and emotions and Dean Cain gets shot in the face. Really, that description alone should be enough for you to decide if you want to watch it or not. My work is done here. Not a bad movie by any stretch of the imagination, but not particularly memorably. If this is the kind of thing you might be into, you might describe this film as a “lost classic” or a “diamond in the rough.” As for me, I wouldn’t go out of my way to watch it if it weren’t for this column. This goddamn motherfucking column.

So that’s The Stone Boy! As of now, I have nothing lined up for my next column. Whether or not there is a next column any time soon entirely rests on my motivation. I certainly aim not to please you, my imaginary audience. If you do come across this article Googling “movie where Dean Cain gets shot in the face”, please, leave me some love in the comment section below.

Until next time.

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