The Wendell Baker Story


Reviewed by: Darren Amner

At some point you would have come across the work of The Wilson Brothers. These square-jawed Texans have appeared in many mainstream Hollywood films, Luke in the frat house funfest Old School and Owen as one half of the chop sockey duo in Shanghai Noon.

Bottle Rocket, was the indie darling that first brought them to the attention of audiences many years ago and it's The Wendell Baker Story that has brought them back to their roots to produce an engaging feelgood romp.

Wendell Baker (Luke Wilson) is a dreamer, whose erratic lifestyle and wayward scams to make a living put him in no end of trouble. Not satisfied with a normal day job, he is chasing the American dream, but when his current get-rich-quick scheme lands him in jail, he receives a wake-up call when his beautiful, long-suffering girlfriend Doreen (Eva Mendes) finally dumps him.

If losing Doreen isn't a good enough reason to re-evaluate your life, what else is? Fortunately, our hero is smarter than he appears and makes a vow to get straight and reunite with the love of his life.

Whilst in choky, Wendell learns the art of hotel management and, as part of his parole, gets a job at Shady Grove retirement home, a place that truly lives up to its name, as he is working for the corrupt owner Neil King (Owen Wilson), who has a sinister plan afoot.

It's when Wendell befriends Boyd (Seymour Cassel) and Skip (Harry Dean Stanton) that the movie truly takes shape. Witty quotable dialogue is exchanged as both these friendly fossils pass on their own experiences and help Wendell win back Doreen from wealthy grocer Dave Bix (Will Ferrell).

There's no doubt that the Wilson brothers have great on-screen charisma and the movie has a lot of laugh-out-loud moments, hardly any of which are sight gags. We come to learn that our elders still have a sex drive and that they can still be active and passionate about life, especially when spending time around Mendes, who is used here mainly as eye candy - isn't she always?

This low budget charmer shows a different side and range to Owen Wilson, as the head nurse from hell. His exchanges with Eddie Griffin, who plays his conniving sidekick, are a highlight, especially at the wake of one of the recently deceased. The script is incredibly funny, with a bright and breezy pace and a good message for all wrinklies out there: life is worth living and you should pursue your dreams no matter how old you are.

The Wendell Baker Story has solid acting, a feel-good vibe and won't insult your intelligence.

Reviewed on: 06 Nov 2005
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Feelgood romp with a positive message for old folks.
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Director: Andrew Wilson, Luke Wilson

Writer: Luke Wilson

Starring: Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson, Eva Mendes, Will Ferrell, Seymour Cassel, Harry Dean Stanton, Eddie Griffin, Kris Kristofferson

Year: 2005

Runtime: 95 minutes

Country: US


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