February 28, 1994 12:00 PM

Luke Perry, Stephen Baldwin

Perry is a long way from Beverly Hills, 90210 in his second major feature film role (then again, he was pretty far away in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, too). His sideburns and cool clothes have been replaced by a look that includes chronic cowboy-hat hair, aggressively western shirts—and a whole lot of dirt. Still, Perry’s all-American smile is very much in evidence in this story of the late real-life rodeo star Lane Frost.

Set in the Southwest in the 1980s, the movie chronicles the rise, fall and redemption of the Oklahoma-born Frost. Perry is convincing as an awheck redneck who loves his mom and pop, drinks Coca-Cola (not booze) and breaks up barroom brawls when he can. Cynthia Geary is a bit too perky as his long-suffering wife. But Perry’s cornball charisma is well balanced by Baldwin, who as his crude cowboy pal has a wicked smile, a wily tongue and a love of soiled socks that only a real rodeo man could muster. Unfortunately, the appealing acting can’t make up for the lack of dramatic tension; before all is done, Baldwin has turned into a reluctant sensitivo and Perry hits (and rebounds from) a cheatin’, boozin’ low—but the events are so ploddingly played out no one cares. Bravo to the boys for doing many of their own stunts—and clearly having a bronco ball. Still, to those of us left outside the corral, 8 Seconds is more like 6,240 seconds of ho-hum moviegoing. (PG-13)

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