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The Ranch | review | dvd | Lollipop
by Chad Van Wagner
The words "made for cable" don't exactly inspire confidence. I vaguely remember a faux Mickey Spillane thing made for HBO that (somehow) ended up involving supernatural creatures and Fred Ward, and that didn't suck. It's telling, however, that I can't remember the name. So with The Ranch, a (kinda) made for Showtime film about legal prostitution, I didn't have much hope. The best I could hope for was "amusing."
I got it. Barely. Essentially a pilot for a TV series that didn't get picked up, it's about as unexpected as something you pretty much expect. It's nondescript to the point that now, a few hours after watching it, I can't really bring more to mind than a vague sense of watered down "naughtiness." There was a scene involving a girl with her John hitting her, but even that didn't leave much of an impression (so to speak).
The problem is that there's no real story. It was intended to be a setup for a show that never came, so a standard three-act structure wouldn't have worked. Unfortunately, the drifting from one situation to another structure doesn't work either.
Sex in the City director Susan Seidelman is at the helm here, and she doesn't bring much to the table. I'm one of three people who's never actually seen Sex in the City, so maybe there's a subtlety in her touch that fans of that show might pick up on that I missed. Considering the complete lack of subtlety in The Ranch, however, I'm not betting on it.
Cast A Deadly Spell. That's the name of the Fred Ward movie (I knew it would come to me eventually). It's a Raymond Chandler/private dick meets Ghostbusters kind of thing that worked surprisingly well. Go find that instead.