A quirky, character-driven throwback to all those lovable, yet meandering '70s flicks, The Wendell Baker Story arrives at a time when people are itching for a large, big-budgeted special effects spectacular. This film is not that. However, it does reunite brothers Luke and Owen Wilson for the first time since they shared the same big screen in Wes Anderson's 2001 pic The Royal Tenenbaums. To make it even more of a family affair, the eldest Wilson brother Andrew helps the younger Luke direct, while the result ends up falling somewhere between Bottle Rocket and Rancho Deluxe; a neatly-wrapped Texas meal that comes with enough mouth-watering sides to keep your belly full as your mind begins to wonder.
Wendell Baker (Luke Wilson) is a low-maintenance conman whose friendly, good-natured optimism hinders more than it helps him; so much so that all he ends up doing is conning himself. Knee-deep in his latest scam (which involves driving to the border to sell fake Texas drivers licenses to illegal immigrants), Wendell figures he has it all worked out. Not to mention there's a little lady (Eva Mendes) waiting for him back at home, if he remembers to pick her up from work on time. He's such a free-spirited, "everything will turn out just fine" moron that even when the feds bust him, he shakes off a lengthily prison sentence as if he accidentally forgot to pick up a bottle of water on the way to the gym. But that's Wendell. The way he sees it, life is too short to feel pain. But when his sweet-as-pie girlfriend Doreen decides to ditch Wendell because he's too busy mending rifts between the blacks and the skinheads while in prison, the old "you don't know what you got until it's gone" theme hits him harder than a bull at a rodeo.