Film / Tall Tale

Tall Tale: The Unbelievable Adventures of Pecos Bill is a movie produced by Disney in the early nineties. It features Nick Stahl as a young boy in the late 1800s who meets folk heroes Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan, and John Henry.

After his father is shot for refusing to sell the deed to his land in Paradise Valley to an evil coal-mining magnate, Daniel Hackett (Stahl) goes on the run trying to keep the deed from falling into the mining company's hands. He is saved from two outlaws by badass cowboy Pecos Bill (Patrick Swayze). After explaining the situation, Pecos offers to help Daniel, but not before seeking out the help of his old friend, legendary lumberjack Paul Bunyan (Oliver Platt). The trio heads to Liberty City, where they encounter John Henry (Roger Aaron Brown), the steel-driving man. The group continues to battle there way back to Paradise Valley against the mining company's hired guns. All the way, Daniel learns about courage and what it means to be a real man.

Tall Tale contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Achilles in His Tent: Paul Bunyan has become a recluse after the logging industry was modernized.
  • All Just a Dream: Right before a shoot-out with the Big Bad and his mooks, Daniel loses consciousness and wakes up in the raft he fell asleep in back in the beginning. Subverted, when he learns that the coal company has already begun mining, and Pecos, Bunyan, and Henry show up to help stop them.
  • Arc Words/Phrase Catcher: "The Code of the East/North/South/West"
    "Respect the land! Defend the defenseless! And don't ever spit in-front of women or children!" *Spit*
  • Bad Ass Boast: Pecos' introductory (and parting) words. The latter is said while he's lassoing a tornado.
    I am a ring-tailed roarer! I can draw faster, shoot straighter, ride harder, and drink longer than any man alive! I'm the rip-snortingest cowboy that ever rode north, south, east, or west of the Rio Grande! I'm Pecos Bill! Yee-haw!
  • Bar Brawl: It happens right after some tough guy pushes Pecos Bill's...
  • Berserk Button: Insulting Texas.
    Tough Guy: You're from Texas?
    Pecos: I do have that honor, sir!
    Tough Guy: I though I smelled something funny in here!! (laughs along with his gang)
    Tough Guy: You mean the "great state of two-bit whores"?
    Pecos: Mister, you can insult me, and you can insult my friends. Hell, you can even insult my mother, or my horse. But mister don't you ever insult the great state of Texas!
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: Pecos prefers shooting off the "trigger finger" as opposed to killing.
  • Breakout Role: For Nick Stahl.
  • The Cameo: William H. Macy as one of the Big Bad's investors. Burgess Meredith as an old man who tells Daniel & Pecos where they can find Paul Bunyan.
  • Cool Horse: "Widowmaker" Pecos' stallion.
  • Crippling the Competition: In a rare good guy example, Pecos Bill shoots the trigger fingers off rival gunslingers as an alternative to killing them.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Paul Bunyan.
  • Large Ham: Swayze and Platt
  • Memetic Badass: Pecos Bill is this in-universe.
  • Not His Sled: John Henry actually loses his legendary contest with the steel-driving machine, though at the end he mentions looking into a rematch.
    • Well, since he would have died during his introduction if it had followed the original story...
  • Stout Strength: Paul Bunyan in this movie is not a giant, just "Three Hundred Pounds of Raging Fury!''
  • Tall Tale: Natch.
  • World's Strongest Man: John Henry, at least according to Pa's tall tales. When he loses the contest against the Steam driver, he gets so mad that when he drives a rail into the rock he's standing on, the whole boulder splits in half.