The “family film” genre remains very much alive and kicking up its cowboy boots with the new DVD/Digital movie, “Pure Country: Pure Heart.” The music-filled movie tells the uplifting story of two sisters who chase their dreams of performing while seeking out the legacy of their late father. Ronny Cox, Laura Bell Bundy and Amanda Detmer star along with rising young actresses Kaitlyn Bausch and Cozi Zuehlsdorff, who portray the Spencer sisters, Ada and Piper, respectively. The movie also features a music video segment with the legendary Willie Nelson, “We Don’t Run.”
And good news for parents: there’s nothing in “Pure Country: Pure Heart” to cause any objection or offense. But though it’s a clean, family-oriented film, don’t mistake that for “saccharine.” The story delves into some hard-hitting family issues as the two siblings learn the truth about their dad, who lost his life in Iraq serving for the Marines, and his own musical ambitions. Single parent elements also come into play as the girls’ mother, played by Detmer, does her best to raise her daughters.
“I was really attracted to the fact that this is a good family film,” says Detmer, who has starred in “Final Destination,” “Saving Silverman” and other films, and also earned a number of TV roles. “My character [Elizabeth Spencer] is a very strong woman but also incredibly flawed. She has found a way to raise her daughters but can’t connect with her own pain. She has basically shut her heart. She feels that she has to be strong for her family, and I can relate to that message. I have been a single mother myself and I know that feeling. There are lots of single mothers out there,” Detmer adds, “who will understand that character.”
As might be expected, music plays a major part in “Pure Country: Pure Heart.” The movie contains 23 songs, 16 of which make their debut in the story. The two lead actresses do all their own singing, and veteran recording artists Bundy and Cox perform original tunes. Songs written by Dallas Davidson, CMA winner Maren Morris and other top writers are sprinkled throughout the movie. The soundtrack album was released July 28.
The versatile Cox, a singer/songwriter as well as an all-around actor (“Deliverance,” “RoboCop”) does his rendition of “Silver City,” a song he co-wrote several years ago. Cox achieved a slice of pop culture renown with his fluid playing on “Dueling Banjos” in the 1972 classic film, “Deliverance.” Since the early 1990’s, Cox has recorded ten albums, mostly in the folk/bluegrass vein. He now says that music is his main focus, and plays more than 100 shows each year at festivals and theaters with his band. “Pure Country: Pure Heart” offered the chance to combine his musical leanings with acting.
“I have always been a strong family man,” says the father of two grown children. “This movie centers around family and that held a lot of appeal for me. It’s telling about real things that happen to families. It deals with loss and other dramatic themes.” The inclusion of Cox’s “Silver City” in the movie came about as the result of an exhaustive song search. “The producer and music coordinator went through my music,” Cox recalls. “They wanted to find something that might be appropriate for the film and they chose this one.” The song first appeared on Cox’s 2002 album “Cowboy Savant.”
In “Pure Country: Pure Heart,” Cox portrays a Korean War veteran who establishes a friendship with the Spencer sisters. “He is basically in a facility for veterans,” Cox explains. “The girls are looking for information about their father. The two young actresses are really fabulous in this, by the way.”
Generations of women come together in this heartwarming movie. It’s fitting, then, that viewers of all ages can gather around and enjoy “Pure Country: Pure Heart” on all levels. “Three generations could watch this together,” raves Amanda Detmer. “It brought tears to my eyes when I saw it.” Cox agrees, “You could see this with everybody in the family. It was a real joy to work on this film.”
“Pure Country: Pure Heart” is available on Blu-ray and DVD Aug. 1.