The Wendell Baker Story (2005)

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The Wendell Baker Story: Directed by Andrew Wilson, Luke Wilson. With Luke Wilson, Eva Mendes, Jacob Vargas, Owen Wilson. Luke Wilson plays a good-hearted ex-con who gets a job in a retirement hotel. Three elderly residents help him win back his girlfriend as he lends them a hand in fighting hotel corruption.

“The Wendell Baker Story will never be listed as movie classic. It will not score at acting awards, and it does have a profound message. That said, it manages to entertain, make us laugh and smile, and provide through enjoyment without insulting our intelligence, and without resorting to endless car chases, fire crashes, or silly special effects.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eWhat we have here is old-fashioned movie entertainment – solid acting, an engaging story, and all of the basics done solidly: costuming, direction, lighting, editing, and, especially, music.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eBoth Luke and Owen Wilson are more than competent in their respective roles as a light-weight con man and a conspiring old home administrator/head nurse. Indeed, I saw a little more acting talent here than in Owen Wilsonu0026#39;s other recent attempts, such as Behind Enemy Lines.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eWhile Owen and Lukeu0026#39;s name may be at the head of the credits (along with their brother Andrew, who is the filmu0026#39;s Director), the best performances come from Harry Dean Stanton and Seymour Cassell, who play playful, but sincere and believable residents of the old age home where Luke Wilsonu0026#39;s character works, and which Owen Wilsonu0026#39;s character runs. Alas, the same cannot be said for the legend Kris Kristofferson, whose roll comes off as predictable and trite, with the same artificial u0026quot;I am wise and sereneu0026quot; facial expression done far too many times.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThe story is easy enough. Wendell Baker (Luke Wilson) spends his time scheming his next (read first) fortune, planning all kinds of shady and illegal schemes. Baker and his friend (played by Jacob Vargas) get caught providing fake Texas identifications to illegal immigrant farm workers. He ends up in a federal jail in Texas, where he gets along well and does not seem to miss his girlfriend, played by Eva Mendes.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eBaker is eventually paroled, and ordered to work at a u0026quot;retirement hotel.u0026quot; While little happens at the retirement place, Baker does not learn of an ongoing to scheme to ship seniors to Oklahoma, so that the administrators can collect their pension checks and sell their medicines on the black market. OK, so it is not Shakespeare. It is light, it moves at a good pace, and Wendell becomes more and more liked by the audience.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eIf one looks, there are messages to be had. We are reminded that senior citizens have passions and sex drives, that the people pouring across the border from Mexico largely just want to work and get by, and that all of us deserve a second chance. Bets of all, we learn this by being happily entertained by a fun, easy-going movie.”

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