“Pure Country 2:  The Gift”
            “Pure Country 2:  The Gift” is pure cornpone.  At times it’s so awkward it’s embarrassing; at other times it feels like a two-hour country music video.  But at its core it’s heartfelt, family-friendly, and religious, which couldn’t be all bad.
            It seems there are 3 angels in heaven who are ready to hand out the special gift of a beautiful, powerful, voice, which appears in the form of a bubble of bright light descending to earth to land on…..a newborn baby girl, Bobbie.
            The next thing we know, Bobbie is a little girl singing in church.  Except we have to be politically correct to overcome the tacit criticism that country music is so whitebread.  So they have Bobbie being raised by a black woman, singing Gospel music in an (otherwise) all-black church.  Her “Aunt” tells the little girl that her mother died, and her father was a rodeo cowboy who rode off to the next rodeo.  She also tells her the 3 rules the three angels decided upon (though we’re not told how she knew that):  be fair, don’t lie, keep your promises.
            Well, it isn’t long before our Bobbie (now the full-grown Katrina Elam) is singing from the back of a flatbed with the good ol’ boys from her little hometown.  But they’re frustratingly unambitious, and she’s restless for the big time, so takes the bus to Nashville to be a big star.
            Naturally, at first, things don’t turn out as planned.  She winds up sleeping in a church (where the kindly black Pastor lets her reside on the back pew at night), and goes to work at a sushi restaurant as a waitress, only by promising the owner that she’s not an aspiring singer (there goes the first strike, the lie). Guess what, the Asian American waiters at the restaurant are all backup musicians, just waiting for their lead singer.  They collaborate on a song, and now the restaurant owner willingly becomes their manager, and takes them to the local studio to record their first big hit.
            The high rollers at the studio know they’ve got somebody with a gift here (Katrina Elam really can belt out a tune), but they tell her she has to lose her manager (“we’ll do that for you”) and lose her local band (“they’re not the look you want”).  Willing to do almost anything to be a star, she agrees (there goes strike two, not being fair). 
            All her life she’s wanted to meet her Dad, but when he finally does show up, it turns out he’s an old drunk.  She tries to develop a relationship with him, promises to take care of him, and brings him along on her tour bus, but he turns out to be belligerent to those around her and insulting to her (one of those “mean drunks”).  So she tells him she doesn’t want to see him again (and there goes strike three, not keeping her promises).
            You guessed it:  she loses her “gift.”  She can’t sing any more.  In the meantime, she has met someone, a rodeo cowboy; naturally, who’s riding the bulls to raise money for autistic children to be around horses (told you this was cornpone).  She goes back home to her dying Aunt, who tells her she can recover her voice if she fills her empty heart, and makes up for the wrongs she has done.  (The Aunt knows all about the 3 strikes, because she felt all of them, and besides, it rained, because the angels were crying.)  Sure enough, before we know it, our reformed and re-charged star is singing in the fund-raiser for the autistic children, along with the sushi restaurant band, with her Dad benignly in the audience (having found him and put him in rehab), and the smiling rodeo cowboy, and that’s country music’s version of happily ever after.
            Well, there’s no question that Katrina Elam is a talent.  And this movie, though as awkward as George Strait trying to act (and that fight scene was really silly), is truly a showcase for her young stardom.  Yeehah, ya’ll. 
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Greenville , Texas