Directed by: Luke Wilson, Andrew Wilson | 90 minutes | comedy, romance | Actors: Luke Wilson, Seymour Cassel, Eddie Griffin, Kris Kristofferson, Eva Mendes, Harry Dean Stanton, Owen Wilson, Spencer Scott, Jacob Vargas, Buck Taylor, Paul Wright, Jo Harvey Allen, Mathew Greer, Grant James, Angela Alvarado, Brady Coleman, JR Coolidge, Will Ferrell, Richard Jones, Heather Kafka, Glen Powell Jr.
With some films it is unclear exactly why and for what purpose they are made. Similarly here. Judging by the director, it is likely that this film is a rehearsal project, as this is Luke Wilson’s first written and (co-) directed film. His one brother, Owen Wilson, has co-written a number of films before, in which at least one of the brothers also stars. The third brother, Andrew, co-directed Wendell Baker, and so this film seems to be a nice get-together between the three brothers, but really serious as a film the project is difficult to take.
The main character Wendell Baker is portrayed sympathetically by Luke Wilson. He plays a somewhat naive criminal who, due to his time in prison and his irresponsible nature, loses his beautiful girlfriend Doreen. It’s not until she’s gone that Wendell realizes what he has to miss, and the rest of the film is all about getting Doreen back. A simple fact, which is fortunately somewhat reinforced by the comical moments and the nice actors. The crazy characters Wendell encounters make the film funny enough to keep you captivated. It is a pity that some comic notes are often not developed enough. An example is the scene in prison where Wendell’s sweet, naive personality manages to unite a group of Crips and a group of skinheads. These sorts of funny, idiotic moments often go just too fast, so that the desired effect cannot be achieved. Later it gets more comical; This is mainly due to the two older gentlemen (played by Seymour Cassel and Harry Dean Stanton) who come to the aid of Wendell and the crazy head nurse Neil King (Owen Wilson) who, along with his sidekick McTeague (Eddie Griffin), has set up a scam in the nursing home. Even though the different scenes with these characters can be called extremely comical, it all remains a bit simple, and the solutions are ultimately quite childish.
It never gets really romantic, not counting the clichéd happy ending. Eva Mendes is also nice as Doreen, it is clear why Wendell wants her back, but due to the high slapstick content of the course of the film, there is little room for real romance.
All in all, a light-hearted comedy, saved by the comedic talent of a number of actors, for which you have to be in the mood, otherwise it might be too bland.