In 1905, Daniel Hackett (Nick Stahl), a young farmer from the western town of Paradise Valley, is unhappy with his life as a farmer and dreams of life in New York City. His father, Jonas (Stephen Lang), likes to tell Daniel tall tales about Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan and John Henry to which Daniel has heard many times leading him to doubt their existence. Meanwhile, Paradise Valley is being coveted by a greedy developer, J.P. Stiles (Scott Glenn). Stiles attempts to convince area farmers to sell their land to him, most notably Jonas as his farm lies in the center of where he wants to develop. However, when Jonas refuses to hand up his deed, Stiles hunts him down and shoots him, but not before Jonas hands the deed off to Daniel for safe keeping.
With Jonas in critical condition and unable to farm, his land is put at risk. Upset, Daniel runs out to hide in his father's boat and falls asleep. When Daniel awakes, he discovers that the boat had come untied and drifted downstream to the deserts of Texas. After a brief encounter with some thieves, Daniel is rescued by legendary cowboy Pecos Bill (Patrick Swayze). The duo later team up with lumberjack Paul Bunyan (Oliver Platt), and strong African American ex-slave John Henry (Roger Aaron Brown). Each of these heroes hooks up with Daniel and becomes involved in an increasingly bitter and boisterous fight against Stiles, whose plans to buy up land threaten the very strength of the folk heroes and the well-being of the common people.
When Stiles takes the deed, Daniel wakes up realizing it was just a dream. He ventures towards Stiles train who was about head out into the lands. Daniel confronts him, and they attempt to run him over, until John arrives and holds the train. Stiles orders his men to kill them, but Pecos arrives and shoots off their trigger fingers, and the villages join in to help, while Paul, who went inside while nobody noticed, cuts down the mine poles. Daniel then finishes off the last pole killing Stiles and his men, and the crowd cheers for him.
Daniel then returns to the farm and admits that the stories were true and their land is important. Paul with his blue ox Babe, and John with his mule Cold Molasses, say goodbye to Daniel and disappear afterwards. Pecos leaves his horse, Widow-Maker to Daniel and twirls his lasso at a twister for his departure.Patrick Swayze as Pecos Bill
Oliver Platt as Paul Bunyan
Roger Aaron Brown as John Henry
Nick Stahl as Daniel Hackett
Scott Glenn as J.P. Stiles
Stephen Lang as Jonas Hackett
Jared Harris as Head Thug Pug
Catherine O'Hara as Calamity Jane
Moira Harris as Sarah Hackett
Joseph Grifasi as Man in Top Hat
John P. Ryan as Grub
Scott Wilson as Zeb
Bert Kramer as Bronson
William H. Macy as Railroad Magnate (uncredited)
Burgess Meredith as Old Man (uncredited)
Bruce Nahin as Town drunk (uncredited)
Sean O'Kane as Additional Voice (uncredited)
Kenneth Swartz as Store Employee (uncredited)
Tony Teebo as Banker (uncredited)
Thomas J. Connolly as Bully Boy #1 (uncredited)
Tara J Talley~Hagen as School Teacher (uncredited)
Principal photography began on September 12, 1993. Filming locations include Disney Ranch and Melody Ranch in Santa Clarita, California, Vasquez Rocks State Park near Agua Dulce, California, Fillmore, California and Barstow, California, Carbondale, Colorado, Glenwood Springs, Colorado, Utah's San Juan River, and Monument Valley, US. Filming was completed on December 16, 1993.
Tall Tale was released in theatres on March 24, 1995. The film flopped domestically and worldwide, and did not make back its $32,000,000 budget. It made $3,046,181 in its opening weekend in the United States, eventually earning a total domestic gross of $8,247,627. It made $2,800,000 at the foreign box office, for a total worldwide gross of only $11,047,627.
The film has received mixed reviews from both critics and audience members. It currently has a 50% 'Rotten" rating on film review website Rotten Tomatoes with an average rating of 6/10 based on 20 reviews and an audience rating of 52% based on a rating average of 3.1/5.Roger Ebert gave the film a positive review and a 3 out of 4 stars.