"Bad" Blake is a down-on-his-luck Country singer who nowadays travels on the road to perform one night stands wherever he can get them. His protegee, Tommy Sweet, is now a bigger star than him, and that gets on his nerves. One day, reporter Jean Craddock comes along and asks for an interview. He complies, and the ensuing relationship with her and her son Buddy sets up the road to get his life back on track. The film became a sleeper success, in great part because of buzz for Jeff Bridges' performance, and earned him the Oscar for Best Actor. The film also won the Oscar for Best Original Song ("The Weary Kind"), and Maggie Gyllenhaal was nominated for Best Supporting Actress.
This work features examples of:
- Adult Fear: When Blake loses Buddy in a mall, both for what might have happened to the boy and the fact that Jean would never forgive him for doing that, especially after Jean made him promise not to drink in front of the boy. Good news/Badnews: Buddy is found safe by mall security, but Jean breaks off the relationship because of that.
- The Alcoholic: Bad Blake. A major plot point in the film is Blake trying to overcome his drinking problem.
- Alcoholic Parent: Parent substitute. Buddy gets lost while Blake is gets drunk at a mall.
- Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Blake promises not to drink when he's around Buddy, as soon as he does though Buddy dissapears immediately.
- Career Resurrection: In-universe, Blake is hoping to revive his moribund career by writing or performing songs that get his name back into the spotlight and money back in his pocket. By the end of the story, he has started a possible resurrection by writing the hit song "The Weary Kind" for Tommy Sweet.
- Country Music: Quite a bit of it is sung throughout the movie.
- Did Not Get the Girl: Jean ultimately marries someone else, though the experience helps Blake get his life back together).
- Drink Order: Bad Blake will have a whiskey, and Buddy a Ginger Ale on the rocks.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": "Bad" Blake; in the end, he reveals his true first name: Otis.
- Handsome Lech / Kavorka Man: Blake could be classified as either of these; he seems to have quite a way with the ladies, despite being a mess most of the time.
- I Am the Band: Bad Blake and whatever country band was hanging around will be preforming tonight.
- Jerkass: We are led to believe Tommy is something of one at first, given Blake's issues with performing alongside him, but it is quickly revealed that, like Blake's inability to write new material, it's more his issues than Tommy's. Tommy is actually something of a Nice Guy, given he actively encourages people to take notice of Blake, encourages them to work together, tries to get a fan to obtain Blake's autograph, and actively pushes a deal that would see Blake receive more money than he's seen in years.
- Master-Apprentice Chain: From Blake to Tommy.
- Oscar Bait: A [insert whatever you want here] destroys his life and then gets better after being inspired to by a beautiful young woman.
- Parental Abandonment: Bad Blake hasn't seen his adult son since he was 4 years old.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: Blake himself.
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Averted. Colin Farrell explicitly asked to not be credited because he didn't want to overshadow Jeff Bridges.
- Vomit Discretion Shot: A couple of times.