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The Wendell Baker Story Review Critics


Dave White Profile

It wishes it was as sweet and smart as Bottle Rocket Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 42

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    Feels like an attempt to rebottle the postmodern fizz of Wes Anderson's "Bottle Rocket." I wish instead they'd put a stopper in it.

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  • 60

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter

    In large part the film succeeds, feeling like a good-natured throwback.

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  • 63

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Directing seems to suit Luke, who also does some of his best work to date on screen.

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  • 70

    out of 100

    Variety Joe Leydon

    A loose-knit, character-driven comedy that percolates with good-vibe amusement, often earning industrial-strength guffaws with sneaky one-liners and tossed-off non-sequiturs.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 13+

Wilson bros' uneven comedy has dark undertones.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that although this comedy is rated PG-13 and co-stars Night at the Museum's Owen Wilson, some of the content may be too much for younger teens. (It's all played for laughs, but still.) There's no real nudity, but there's lots of crude sexual banter ("G spots," "blue balls," etc.), and some of the characters end up in compromising positions (the cops arrest two men set up with underage women). Dark undertones touch on everything from drinking and (prescription) drug use to genuine criminal activity (the main character sells fake IDs, and a nurse fakes her elderly patients' deaths, steals their Medicare checks, and re-sells their prescription drugs) and depression (one retiree holes up in his room for years). The elderly are mocked at length, and in one scene the main character is thought to have molested a child at a urinal.

  • Families can talk about how movies make audiences sympathize with characters who aren't entirely sympathetic. How does the movie make Wendell seem "good" even though he's actually an alcohol-guzzling lawbreaker? Does his "badness" make his redemption in the end even more striking? Can you think of other similar characters in other movies or TV shows? And what about Wendell and Doreen? Do they seem like a good match? Why does Doreen put up with him early on? Is her character a positive portrayal of women?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: Wendell is almost always up to no good (he forges Texas driver's licenses for illegal immigrants, etc.), is sometimes condescending to his girlfriend, and can't seem to stay legit (he also faked an insurance claim). A character is thought to have molested a child. Disrespectful treatment of the elderly (including faking their deaths and stealing their Medicare checks).

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: The corrupt manager of a "retirement hotel" has his henchmen rough up residents who don't "cooperate" and has them hauled away in a taxi to a mysterious place. There's literally a pistol-packing mama (or, to be precise, a shotgun-toting one) who's trigger-happy.

  • sex false3

    Sex: No one actually has sex, but there's plenty of talk about it. Men at the retirement home ask Wendell if he can get them "laid." They also proposition two young women by talking about how they'd make them reach orgasm. Two male nurses strip down to their bare behinds (which aren't really seen) and attempt to seduce two underage girls. A male nurse has a retiree sit on his lap and then flirts with her. Wendell and his girlfriend kiss, though much of their interaction is fairly chaste, even sweet. One piece of graffiti refers to "blue balls."

  • language false3

    Language: Surprisingly mild in comparison to the movie's themes: Just some use of "a--hole" and "damn." Other language includes lots of disrespectful references to the aged (for example, one character says "I just love to see their wrinkled old faces light up").

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Mention of magazine titles (Forbes, BusinessWeek).

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Lots of drinking, especially in the beginning of the movie when Wendell is selling fake IDs. A male nurse abuses prescription drugs.