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The Wendell Baker Story
DVD disk
Nov 5, 2007 By: Quigles
The Wendell Baker Story order
Director:
Andrew Wilson, Luke Wilson

Actors:
Luke Wilson
Eva Mendes
Owen Wilson

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
An ex-con gets a job at a retirement home only to find the head nurse is a bit of a schemer as well.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
For a movie to brand itself with the title THE WENDELL BAKER STORY, you might be led to believe it contains a story about a man worth telling.

You would be wrong.

The story of Wendell Baker is actually a stupid, dull, and uneventful one. The bulk of it is dedicated to the romance between Luke Wilson (as Baker) and Eva Mendes, though there are also various sections involving a fake I.D. scam, a stint in prison, and a retirement home scheme led by Owen Wilson and Eddie Griffin. None of these are particular interesting, with the romance in particular waning behind terrible dialogue and an embarrassing performance by Mendes (who isn't really to blame, since I don't know much of anyone who could've elevated the material).

The only reason the picture doesn't completely fall apart is courtesy of Luke Wilson's natural charm, also conveyed nicely by Owen Wilson (who has a decidedly smaller role). The other familiar faces (Eddie Griffin, Kris Kristofferson, and even Will Ferrell) offer nothing other than a moment where you say to yourself, "Oh look, it's [insert person's name here]!"

Instead of acting as a highlight, the several comedic gags feature the film at its most inane, offering up more to groan at than laugh at. In one early scene, Luke Wilson enters an isolated restroom and uses the urinal, where a little boy stands beside and pisses on his shoe. Without even zipping up his fly, Wilson picks the boy out to help him reach the urinal, and then out comes blundering an obese hulk of a dad in overalls screaming about what this evil man is doing to his son. Then Wilson gets punched. None of this remotely pertains to the plot at hand, so apparently it's just there to make the audience laugh. Like the rest of the comedy, it fails spectacularly.

Figuring out how WENDELL BAKER actually got past the pre-production stage is as easy as looking at the credits; written by Luke Wilson, directed by Andrew and Luke Wilson, and starring Luke and Owen Wilson. Had somebody who wasn't a firmly established face in the film industry attempted to make this movie, it would have been rejected by page 10 of the script. I personally like Luke Wilson as an actor, but as he clearly proves here, he's no filmmaker. Looks like its Owen (who co-wrote BOTTLE ROCKET, RUSHMORE, and THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS) who got the creative genes in that family.
THE EXTRAS
A standard but satisfactory array of extras.

Audio Commentary (with Luke Wilson): This track lists co-director Andrew Wilson as being an additional participant, but he barely has anything to say. It's just as well, too, seeing as how Luke doesn't seem to have much to say either. A dull, uneventful commentary.

Afternoon at Luke's (21:25): The most interesting of the special features, this cool bonus item has Luke and Andrew Wilson talking with the film's two old "cooze hounds," Harry Dean Stanton and Seymour Cassel. They discuss their lives, careers, views on life, and so on.

Making Wendell Baker: On Location with Wilsons (13:35): A short but informative making-of featurette, with praise-filled interviews and on-set footage.

Deleted Scenes (9:50): There are 8 excised/extended scenes, some of which are marginally decent.

Also included is the film's Theatrical Trailer, a Photo Gallery, a Music Video entitled "I'm Gonna Live Forever" by Billy Joe Shaver, and a bunch of Previews.

Miscellaneous: Lastly, there's an added bonus item inside the DVD. It's a postcard from Wendell Baker, acting as an epilogue to the film of sorts. Very cool.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Luke Wilson's performance gives THE WENDELL BAKER STORY some much needed charisma and appeal, but his amateurish writing and direction leave a lot to be desired. This one is solely for the devoted Wilson brother fans out there.
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