Gunless is too G-rated

Don't shoot the messenger: Gunless has no teeth.

There’s a lot to like about this comic Western from writer-director William Phillips, a film that’s nothing if not eager to please. The central gag---Paul Gross plays an American gunslinger who can’t find himself a gunfight in a small Canadian town---is a winner, and the mix of laughs, love story and western conventions is clearly designed to appeal to a broad range of moviegoers. But this kitchen-sink approach works against the film, as the toe-dipping in multiple genres denies the audience a satisfying immersion in any one. What’s more, Phillips deflates any sense of tension with his depiction of a violence, sex and cuss-free Wild West, a sanitized portrayal that also takes the bite out of his satire. To be gunless is fine, but toothless? Not so much.

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