Billy Jack Goes to Washington (Tom Laughlin) 1977

It was a with a certain naivete that I entered Billy Jack Goes to Washington. Yes, I know I immediately came from the abysmal Trial of Billy Jack but who knows? Maybe Laughlin realized he went too far and decided to go back to the series’ roots. I thought the title was habitual of other series changing its location like the Leprechaun going to space or Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian. I didn’t realize that Billy Jack Goes to Washington was a literal remake of Frank Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

We aren’t even really talking about action’d up remake like Schwartzenegger trying to remake Hamlet or something. There is one fight scene in this movie but for the most part it is Laughlin trying to play the James Stewart role. If that doesn’t have you running for the hills I don’t know what will. It would be like putting Chuck Norris in 12 Angry Men. Ugh, I don’t need to be giving Hollywood more ideas.

So even though the movie was cut down (in some cuts to two hours, to others two and a half hours) the movie is still as boring as ever. As mentioned before, since we have no fight scenes were are left with the wooden as hell acting of director Tom Laughlin. We were more forgiving when all he had to do was look stoic and kick racists in the face, but when asked to fill the shoes of James Stewart it becomes very embarrassing. It becomes even more boring when taking into account that I’ve seen this movie before. Aside from adding in some of Laughlin’s trademark goofy political ideas, it is the same movie. I don’t want to spend my time with a clearly inferior remake that brings nothing good to the table.

The only thing that is funny in this movie is how they write Billy Jack into the naïve country boy role in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Let’s forget the fact Billy Jack is thoroughly anti government and his whole life has been about fighting “the Man” and how this would be a reversal of everything his character was about up till now. Forgetting all that, THE MAN HAS MURDERED MULTIPLE PEOPLE!!! Yes, they try to hand wave it away by saying he was pardoned but are you saying there would be no public outrage at a man who has killed cops and has one time drop kicked a man in the throat killing him? Shooting Pauly Shore into space is a more plausible a plot that getting Billy Jack into the Senate. It makes even less sense making this film in the late 70’s when everyone (including our supposed anti-establishment Billy Jack) is disillusioned with politics. We really don’t buy the fact that Jack is fooled and later shocked to learn there is corruption in politics.

This movie just plain sucks. Not only is this a really bad remake of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington but it’s not even a Billy Jack movie anymore. This film bombed hard and while I usually like filmmakers having their own vision in this case I can’t help but give a sigh of relief. This series had gotten ridiculous and not in a fun way. Every decade Tom Laughlin promises a new Billy Jack movie but I see that as silly of an idea as his multiple runs for presidency. Billy Jack was a character rooted in a specific time and was even getting outdated by the time of this movie in 1977. Making a movie now would be like bringing back Dolemite but playing it completely straight faced. Not only that, but aside from a few of us in today’s culture that have gone back to see Billy Jack (which are a VERY few) no one really remembers who this guy is. This was a successful B movie character in the early 70’s who got ruined in two of the worst sequels short of Lucas or Bay. This is one of the few times I am actually glad a movie didn’t do well because I don’t know how I would take many more films from this guy. Billy Jack is a horrible movie and you should stay far far away from it.


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