Jack Goes Confidential: COUNTRY STRONG Serves Up Pickin’ ‘n’ Grinnin’

It’s a soft opening weekend since the first batch of major new studio releases for 2011 doesn’t roll into theatres ’til next week.

In the meantime we’ve got COUNTRY STRONG which will make some of ya’ll wonder whether you haven’t seen it all before.

As a matter of fact, you sort of did in last year’s CRAZY HEART which also picked up midway through a country music performer’s fallen career. However, that was a much better film.

This time around, it’s Gwyneth Paltrow as self-destructive Nashville star ‘Kelly Canter’ who’s just coming off a stint in rehab following an on-stage meltdown in Dallas.

But her husband/manager Tim McGraw can’t get her back on stage fast enough, foregoing the warning signs from her caretakers.

After all he’s got to get those lucrative t-shirts selling again.

Whoa, hold up a sec.There’s now a romantic relationship developing between Paltrow and young country music stud ‘Beau Hutton’ played by Tron’s Garrett Hedlund!

And husband Tim McGraw’s getting mighty cozy with sexy ex-beauty queen, now up-and-coming singer ‘Chiles Stanton’ who’s joining the tour, played by Gossip Girl’s Leighton Meester.

The story is a familiar one.

The tribulations of a falling marriage vs. professional obligations.

The long road from addiction to recovery; betrayals; broken hearts; fights, booze; and a comeback.

Hell, I feel a country song coming on right about now!

Ironically, Tim McGraw is the only one who doesn’t sing in this movie. But Gwyneth Paltrow definitely makes up for it by adding her own great voice to the proceedings.Yes doubters, it’s REALLY Paltrow who’s belting out those country songs!

And Hedlund’s singing ain’t bad either.

COUNTRY STRONG is country soap fairly well done.

A better title for the film probably would’ve been SEA OF HEARTBREAK.

I guess if there’s a central theme to this country melodrama, it’s this: Don’t take somebody out of rehab before the rehab.

I’m raising 2-1/2 out of 5 cliche-ridden fingers.

JACK GOES TO THE MOVIES Friday mornings on KMBZ / KUDL / and KXTR. Also anytime on Time-Warner Cable’s K.C. ON DEMAND, Channel 113.

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