Steve Johnson, Chicago Tribune:
"Tommy Lee Jones more than redeems his shrill effort
in last year's Natural Born Killers with his
shimmering starring role in The Good Old Boys, a
charming cowboy yarn that Jones also directed, artfully
blending romance and adventure, the call of the hearth
and that of the open sky. He plays Hewey Calloway, a
true Texas cowboy trying to keep the modern era from
tossing his era out of the saddle. He woos schoolmarm
Sissy Spacek, aggravates his homesteading brother and
sister-in-law, and spouts simple wisdom like a frontier
Forrest Gump... Given the quality of the cast (Terry
Kinney, Sam Shepard), it is perhaps silly to give
Jones the director credit for the performances. But the
gentle glow of this movie, based on Elmer Kelton's 1978
novel, should make viewers eager for more of Jones' work
from the camera's narrow end."
Tucker, Entertainment Weekly:
"Jones plays Hewey Calloway, a 20th-century cowboy who
fought alongside Teddy Roosevelt in Cuba, talks to his
horse, and prides himself on his steer-roping skill.
After an absence of two years, he shows up at the farm
of his brother, Walter (Terry Kinney), and Walter's
grumpy wife, Eve (Frances McDormand). Actor-playwright
Sam Shepard ambles in as Hewey's old buddy Snort
Yarnell and does an excellent, snaggle-toothed Walter
Brennan impersonation during much of his brief screen
Jonathan Taylor, Variety:
"A character like Jonesí Hewey Calloway is refreshing;
heís the sort of man audiences donít see much anymore.
Like his Western film ancestors stretching back to Gary
Cooper and beyond, heís wild yet essentially decent,
troubled yet an undeniably good soul, rough on the
outside yet ultimately tender. In short, heís a classic
movie cowboy, and Jones brings him to life vividly, with
great skill and affection... Complications in his life
arise when old cowboy buddy Snort Yarnell (Sam
Shepard at his most gregarious) shows up and
persuades Hewey to revert to some old, bad habits. Jones
does a fine job of capturing the complexities of this
bad old, good old boy, and in particular creates a
character clearly distinct from his most famous Western
character, Lonesome Doveís Woodrow Call."
David Hiltbrand, People Magazine:
"Jones not only stars in this film, he also directs.
His performance is wonderful. Behind the camera, he
tends to flatter the landscape more than the actors, who
include Sam Shepard, Larry Mahan and Terry
Kinney. All the characters are colorful, even if a good
deal of their dialogue gets buried under their
barbed-wire West Texas twangs."
Martie Zad, The Washington Post:
"For his directorial debut, Jones is surrounded by a
cast considerably more renowned than those in the usual
made-for-television movie. Terry Kinney plays his
brother and Frances McDormand does a superb job as his
practical and tough sisterin-law. Sam Shepard
plays his cowboy crony, while Matt Damon and Blayne
Weaver are very good as his nephews. Wilford Brimley and
Walter Olkewicz also co-star.
Loynd, LA Times:
"The Western is so ingrained with outlaws,
gunslingers and saloons that it's hard to imagine any
other approach. But Tommy Lee Jones draws on a radically
different picture of the West in TNT's The Good Old
Boys, which he co-wrote, stars in and directs...
This is a Western without gunfire or even the threat of
serious violence. The characters and builders we see, to
quote novelist Kelton, are the West's 'main event,' not
the storied gunslingers whom Kelton brushes off as 'the
sideshow.' Jones' direction has an easy, indirect,
sidesaddle brand of warmth, and his turn as the
middle-aged cowboy protagonist Hewey Calloway is as
distinct as a clod of dirt."
"Set in Texas of the early 1900s (and filmed in Texas),
The Good Old Boys is the story of two brothers,
Hewey and Walter Calloway, played by Jones and Terry
Kinney. While Walter has settled down to ranching, Hewey
clings to the old cowboy ways, drifting from cattle
drive to cattle drive. He knows that the world is
changing, but in his heart he knows he'll never be part
of this new century. With this as the background, The
Good Old Boys is more like a collection of
entertaining, sometimes sentimental snapshots of another
era, another way of life. It's filled with oddball
characters you either love or want to hiss, all brought
to life by a talented cast that seems to be relishing
their roles, as nostalgic for times gone by as Jones and
Kelton clearly are... Author/actor Sam Shepard
has an affinity for good ol' boys and he appears to
relish playing one of Hewey's trail-riding cowboy
Tom Jicha, Sun-Sentinel:
"TNT gambled on a first-time director and came up aces
with The Good Old Boys. The only way the cable
network could lure Oscar winner Tommy Lee Jones to the
small screen was to provide him with the director he
demanded - Tommy Lee Jones... It helped that the star
and the director had strong feelings for their material.
Jones also co-wrote the script, which is adapted from a
novel by Elmer Kelton.
'It's not a western,' Jones said. 'It's a
turn-of-the-century period piece. There's horses in it.
But I wouldn't call it a western.' By any
categorization, it's a worthwhile, if slow-paced, couple
of hours of entertainment."