In this family project—youngest Luke writes, directs and stars; oldest Andrew co-directs; and middle-child Owen plays the villain—the Wilson brothers return to the handmade filmmaking of Bottle Rocket...

The Wendell Baker Story

on May 18, 2007 by Annlee Ellingson
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In this family project—youngest Luke writes, directs and stars; oldest Andrew co-directs; and middle-child Owen plays the villain—the Wilson brothers return to the handmade filmmaking of Bottle Rocket .

Luke stars as the titular scam artist, a big dreamer who's gotten by so far on his roguish good looks and considerable charm. But his latest scheme—selling Texas state driver licenses to illegal aliens just over the border from his Airstream motor home, which he calls “the Ellis Island of the Southwest”—lands him in prison. Charismatic to a fault, Wendell finds a niche there among the other convicts, but his stint behind bars is the last straw for girlfriend Doreen (Eva Mendes, reciting her lines by rote).

When he springs the joint, Wendell is determined to embark on a new career in the hotel biz and win his girl back. His first gig is at the Shady Grove retirement home, where he befriends a couple of old coots (Seymour Cassel, Harry Dean Stanton and Kris Kristofferson), uncovers a Medicare scam and enlists the retirees in a plan to save the day, showing them that they still have a lot of living to do along the way.

Luke's script is both funny and poignant, including a lovely observation about love and marriage: “I thought marriage meant you'd found what you were looking for…. I didn't realize it was about searching together.” But he and Andrew do the writing a disservice by failing to set up the onscreen delivery and stubbornly clinging to tacked-on scenarios that do nothing to further the plot, such as when Wendell is mistaken for a child molester in a public bathroom. It's a funny scene that belongs in another movie.
Distributor: ThinkFilm
Cast: Luke Wilson, Eva Mendes, Seymour Cassel, Eddie Griffin, Kris Kristofferson, Harry Dean Stanton and Owen Wilson
Directors: Andrew Wilson and Luke Wilson
Screenwriter: Luke Wilson
Producers: David L. Bushell and Mark Johnson
Genre: Comedy
Rating: PG-13 for some crude and sexual humor and language
Running time: 99 min.
Release date: May 18, 2007 NY/LA

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