Maverick is an excellent example of why silly humour works but stupid humour doesn't. It is at its best during the verbal and physical sparring between Mel Gibson and a likeably feisty Jodie Foster, but also occasionally plumbs the depths of incredibly unfunny ridiculousness. Viewers familiar with the previous films of Gibson and director Richard Donner will appreciate the 'in' jokes liberally scattered throughout, and there are also some cameo appearances from a plethora of well-known country and western personalities.
Western movies aren't produced in such great numbers as they once were, so the setting is a refreshing change from the generic cityscape so often used in comedies. Donner pokes fun at the dusty landscape and makes use of its well-worn stereotypes, but also hits some uncomfortable home truths, such as the displacement of native Americans.
But the spatial setting is only peripheral to that all-consuming game, poker. Bret Maverick wants to enter the All Rivers poker contest; the stumbling block being the entry fee of $25,000. As it is, Southern belle Annabelle Bransford is all too willing to relieve him of what cash he has. Chaperoned by respected lawman Zane Cooper they set off on a madcap money-hunt through the Wild West, helping stranded missionaries and avoiding old foes out for vengeance (including an unbelievably stupid sequence involving a Russian archduke with a penchant for killing).
The plot meanders along for three-quarters of the movie's length until suddenly we are bombarded with multi-layered double-crossings, which may require a second viewing to satisfactorily disentangle. However, the final twist in the tail is likely to leave the viewer with a grin, just as it does Bret Maverick.