[Originally published in Movietone News 66-67, March 1981]
Honeysuckle Rose is apparently so sure of its audience that it isnâ€™t the least concerned about having a good story to tell. The film, of course, is a vehicle for Willie Nelson, but regardless of whether youâ€™re one of this popular singerâ€™s fans, you canâ€™t help feeling that the whole thing was written (if thatâ€™s not too strong a word) during someoneâ€™s lunch hour. Nelson is supposed to be a Willie-like country western singer named Buck Bonham. The role calls for him to sing a lot; the rest of the time he has to try to look like “real people” while the scenario does a quick rehash of Formula A2 (professional entertainerâ€™s love of his job puts strain on his marriage) and Formula B4 (the hero falls in love with his best friendâ€™s something-or-other). Willie canâ€™t act, so the movie lets him sing his way out of these troubles. The wife is played by Dyan Cannon. The best friend is played by Slim Pickens. The something-or-other (best friendâ€™s daughter in this case) is played by Amy Irving. All three do nice enough work, but not so nice that Honeysuckle Rose can cover up for the deficiencies of its star. Irving does the best acting in the filmâ€”chiefly because her character gets two or three things to feel bad about after having spent half the picture in a Willie-thrall. Pickens gets to dabble in guitar a little (wasnâ€™t he a singing cowboy on the radio before he got into movies?). Cannon bounces around like a Public Service Message for physical fitness. You keep wondering why she doesnâ€™t just punch Willie out and go off and take up with a gymnast or a Dallas Cowboy. But as the neglected but faithful wife she opts instead for New Age assertiveness and pragmatic restraint in the movieâ€™s big emotional scenes.