“The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford” is the Teen Coming-of-Age-Drama We Deserve
Everyone’s talking about Manchester By The Sea which is apparently a movie that stars Casey Affleck and it is supposed to be good and there is tension and sadness and other such things. But Casey Affleck has already reached the mountaintop of slow-burn emotionalism and creepy grief. He was the leading man in the story of the assassin of a famous guy who wore cowboy hats by a guy who was less famous but also wore various hats. This is one of America’s finest films about growing up because it features the infamous James Gang in all their wacky harebrained scheme glory.
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford delivers the freshest take on a cherished and long-revered genre in American cinema: the coming-of-age film. We have seen this genre at its peak from the 1940s (Bambi) through the 1960s (Last Summer), and it even experienced a resurgence in the early 1990s, an era largely associated with the death of culture and the end of history. With this film, director Andrew Dominik breathes new life into a narrative that is part of all of us as Americans. What is growing up without a group of friends that laugh at you and sometimes shoot at you but at the end of the day always end up sharing tense meals with you?
Following in the tradition of classics such as Stand By Me and The Sandlot, The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford uses an array of young characters both colorful and relatable to deliver the greatest teen drama/coming-of-age film ever to grace the silver screen. Raise your cup of frozen dirty lake-water to the James Gang!
Jesse is the leader of his gang of schoolyard toughs, not unlike Tom Sawyer and his gang of killers or Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez and his ragtag team of horny misfit ballplayers. Just like Benny, Jesse is a charmer, far more skilled and experienced than the rest of the boys. Jesse can run faster than Wood Hite, Dick Liddil, and even his big brother, Frank! The other boys look up to Jesse, even when he makes them play baseball in record-breaking summer heat.
Frank is Jesse’s older brother, and his involvement with the other boys’ schoolyard antics is obviously carried out with a weary reluctance. Taking a cue from a young Josh Brolin’s performance as “Brand” Walsh in Richard Donner’s The Goonies, Frank will watch out for his brother and his dumb little friends, but it’s glaringly clear that Frank is getting too old for this shit. Just as Brand does Mikey in The Goonies, Frank eventually abandons his brother in the middle of the adventure, leading to him getting shot in the back of the head by a self-serving fugitive.
Charlie is Jesse’s second-in-command when Frank is busy mowing the lawn or catching hell from the old man who’s just come home from the steelyard. Jesse knows that Charlie is only somewhat up to the task of being his right hand, but Charlie loves him, and Jesse knows that this will come in handy when he needs someone to both adore him and make him look better when charming the older girls who work the concessions at the local laser tag fortress.
Robert “Bob” Ford
Charlie was told by their mother that if he didn’t let little brother Bob play with him and his friends, Tae Kwon Do Camp with his cousin would be out of the question. Bob idolizes Jesse, wanting only to be part of his adventures. It’s really quite pathetic! Charlie told Jesse that Bob hadn’t gotten his pubes yet, so Bob threw a dart at Charlie’s head when he wasn’t looking. Mom was predictably pissed. The funny thing is, Bob hadn’t gotten his pubes yet so what was he so angry about?
Wood is a scrappy little pissant whose ass would totally be grass if he wasn’t Jesse’s cousin. No one likes Wood much, but Wood gets to mouth off and call people mean names because nobody fucks with the leader’s cousin. What kind of name is Wood Hite anyway? It’s nonsense.
Dick is the ladies’ man of the group, a silver-tongued devil who has become much more interested in girls than in trying to help the guys get that baseball back from the Governor’s yard. Dick and Wood became friends back in T-ball when they bonded over making fun of each others’ names. Dick enjoys fucking but also poetry. He’s complicated like that. As you can see from the above picture, he even makes eating porridge interesting.
Ed is a bit on the slow side, but the guys like him better than Bob because he doesn’t rat them out to the teacher when they steal all the cherry push-ups on ice cream day. Bob caught hell for that once and the boys never forgave him.
Zee is the most popular member of the women’s water polo team, and she and Jesse have been going steady for at least three semesters now. Zee is Jesse’s cousin, and they used to get sideways glances for that, but once Jesse told the guys that her being his cousin means she knows how to tongue better than all the other girls, they decided that maybe making out with your cousins is a actually cool. She takes care of the guys and makes them dinner when they are done fucking shit up around the rich people’s neighborhood. In true coming-of-age fashion, she’s the most important female character and has maybe six lines in a movie that is like three hours long.
Governor Crittenden has lived in the neighborhood longer than any of the guys’ parents, and it is this distinction — plus his political sway — that gives him some weight when it comes to planning the annual Fourth of July block party. He clearly means well within the context of his position, but he also likes to lower the boom on the boys’ rad times a little too often. Jesse once played a ripping solo on his dad’s Ibanez in the garage, and mean old Mr. Crittenden called the cops, after he told them he wouldn’t.
[NOTE: Sources confirm that the long-awaited sequel to this seminal film, The True Adventures of Jesse and the Stinkers, is still in development.]
[ADDITIONAL NOTE: Sources confirm The True Adventures of Jesse and the Stinkers is now titled The Stinkers are Dead…All of Them and it is actually a softcore pornography film.]
[FINAL NOTE: The film’s title has been changed one more to The Assassination of Jesse James by the Two in the Pinkers, One In the Stinkers. Please send help.]