Richard Linklater's The Newton Boys can't decide whether it wants to be Bonnie and Clyde or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. As a result, it's closer to Young Guns--a not-so-Wild West Show in which three of Hollywood's Tiger Beat alumni strap on the chaps and pretend they're the James Gang. Matthew McConaughey is Willis Newton, a good ol' Texas boy who robs banks because...that's where the money is. Skeet Ulrich and Ethan Hawke are his brothers, Joe and Jess. And Vincent D'Onofrio appears, halfway through the movie, as Dock Newton, the eldest brother. Together, in their fancy duds, the four make a mighty fine picture. I wish I could say the same for Linklater. This is the guy who brought us Slacker, Dazed and Confused and Beyond Sunrise--three of the most original American movies of the last 25 years. Perhaps he wanted to show us he could make a Hollywood movie as well. Consider it shown. The Newton Boys is intermittently entertaining, but the bank robberies are about as exciting as watching someone shop for groceries. The movie's based on the real-life Newton boys, a 1920s gang that couldn't--or wouldn't--shoot straight. America's most successful bank robbers, they never killed anybody.
It might have helped the movie if they had.