The Wendell Baker Story

"Grim"

The Wendell Baker Story Review


Oh, the world is one sweet nectarine to the boys in the frat pack. While Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, and Will Ferrell owned the summer with Wedding Crashers, Owen Wilson was filming You, Me and Dupree with Kate Hudson and Matt Dillon (hit!) and Vince Vaughn was filming The Break-Up with Jennifer Aniston (again: hit!). While all this was happening, the group's indelible straight man, Luke Wilson, was busy peddling around his writing/co-directing/acting venture, The Wendell Baker Story. Even though 3 members of the frat pack make appearances in the film, there's something not quite "fratty" about The Wendell Baker Story.

Wendell Baker (Luke Wilson) has charm oozing from his pores but can't do much more than make friends with it. He makes fake IDs with his friend, Reyes (Jacob Vargas), for illegal aliens that just jumped the fence. Wendell also has a woman who loves him, but of course, he can't tell her he loves her back. That girl is Doreen (Eva Mendes), who runs into the arms of a grocery store owner (Ferrell) when Wendell gets sent away. When he returns, settled on getting his life straight and winning Doreen back. He is set up to work in an old folk's home, ample for his dreams of owning his own hotel one day. Trouble comes when he uncovers a scheme to fake old people's death and actually send them away to be slaves at a small farm house, owned by the mother of Neil King (Owen Wilson), the head nurse and a supreme sleaze bag. With the help of three wily retirees (Seymour Cassel, Harry Dean Stanton, and Kris Kristofferson), Wendell plans to win back the girl and uncover the scheme.

Good news first: Seymour Cassel and Harry Dean Stanton own this film. These old pros have immeasurable amounts of fun putting the gusto and glee into their characters. In one scene, Cassel tells a girl he could "find your G-spot in 5 seconds" while Stanton simply stares at the girl's friend. Both girls are hooked, and who could argue. Cassel's talks of wanting to get a piece of tail and Stanton's dry replies are worth the 100 minutes the film takes. Give ample credit to Will Ferrell too. As always, Ferrell steals every scene he is in (precious few) with his marked brand of over-the-top physical and emotional reactions.

But the problems are numerous and hard to ignore. First of all, the script rushes most of the plot and doesn't have the structure of any of the frat pack films. The trick to good comedy scripts isn't necessarily jokes but rather a strong skeletal framework story and scenes that allow the actors to improvise and bring out bigger laughs, which the film is in short supply of. You can't help but feel disappointed in Owen Wilson and Eddie Griffin, who plays King's sidekick, who don't seem to really try as hard as the others to make some of the material fly. More than that, the love story, which is set-up in the beginning, goes absolutely nowhere. A tacked-on love story I can handle, but one that is supposedly a major part of the film and is done so poorly is impossible to look away from. Some of these scenes work, some even border on excellent, but the film is so timid and obsessed with making Wendell Baker into some sort of quirky hero (tagline: "Why Not Call Him a Hero?") that it doesn't give enough time to the other characters. I would have much rather watched Cassel and Stanton riff and try to pick up chicks for two hours. But life simply isn't that sweet for me.



The Wendell Baker Story

Facts and Figures

Run time: 99 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 3rd August 2005

Box Office USA: $48.1k

Distributed by: ThinkFilm

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 40%
Fresh: 17 Rotten: 25

IMDB: 5.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Producer: David L. Bushell,

Starring: as Wendell Baker, as Doreen, as Reyes Morales, as Neil King, as L.R. Nasher, as Skip Summers, as Boyd Fullbright, as McTeague, as Dave, Angela Alvarado as Irma, as May, as Bob Draper, Jo Harvey Allen as Wanda King, as Reverend Shackelton, Nicole Swahn as Lucy, Heather Kafka as Marianne, Steve Stodghill as Otto Brinker, as Dr. Van Horn, Raymond Gestaut as Sonny Sr., Mark Wallace as Federale Officer

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Captain America: Civil War Movie Review

Captain America: Civil War Movie Review

After the formulaic thrills of The Winter Soldier and Age of Ultron, Marvel's Avengers were...

Son of Saul Movie Review

Son of Saul Movie Review

From Hungary, this year's Oscar-winning foreign film is a remarkably fresh take on the Holocaust...

Demolition Movie Review

Demolition Movie Review

With its darkly emotive themes and brittle humour, this well-made drama by Jean-Marc Vallee (Dallas...

Bastille Day Movie Review

Bastille Day Movie Review

An attempt to muscle in on Luc Besson's Taken-style of thriller, this is an odd...

Secret Cinema Presents: 28 Days Later Movie Review

Secret Cinema Presents: 28 Days Later Movie Review

Expectations are a problem with this year's Secret Cinema event. After the jaw-dropping, goosebump-inducing surprises...

Jane Got a Gun Movie Review

Jane Got a Gun Movie Review

With its grindingly low-key tension and unusual perspectives, this Western has a chance to revamp...

Criminal Movie Review

Criminal Movie Review

Almost criminally entertaining, this preposterous thriller mixes buckets of humour and emotion into the violent,...

Advertisement
The Jungle Book Movie Review

The Jungle Book Movie Review

Using remarkably photorealistic animation, this remake of the 1967 Disney classic is warm and enjoyable,...

Eye in the Sky Movie Review

Eye in the Sky Movie Review

Almost forensic in its approach, this smart thriller explores a drone strike from a variety...

Midnight Special Movie Review

Midnight Special Movie Review

Gifted director Jeff Nichols takes on another genre in his fourth film with actor Michael...

Boulevard Movie Review

Boulevard Movie Review

This dark, introspective drama hinges on one of Robin Williams' final film performances before his...

The Huntsman: Winter's War Movie Review

The Huntsman: Winter's War Movie Review

Aside from success at the box office, there was nothing about 2012's rather uneven fantasy...

Black Mountain Poets Movie Review

Black Mountain Poets Movie Review

It's fairly obvious that the cast and crew began making this film with only the...

Victoria Movie Review

Victoria Movie Review

One of the most breathtaking films of the year, this ambitious story shifts from a...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.