Film Review: The Baytown Outlaws

For those who like their cinematic rides fast, furious and unencumbered by too much brain matter, this would-be Tarantino-esque redneck piece of rowdiness may entertain.

The Wild West is wilder than ever in Barry Battles’ The Baytown Outlaws, which features the three Oodie brothers, Brick (Clayne Crawford), Lincoln (Daniel Cudmore) and McQueen (Travis Fimmel)—one sweatier and more tattooed and redneck than the next—on a mission. They’ve been hired by the Daisy Dukes-wearin’ Celeste (Eva Longoria) to rescue her mentally handicapped godson Rob (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) from the clutches of her crazy crime lord of an ex-husband, Carlos (Billy Bob Thornton). In the process, the boys shoot up most of Alabama, leaving a trail of bloody victims, including a Russ Meyer-like cadre of lethal vixens (who meet a particularly salaciously unsavory end), Native Americans armed with the most menacing bows and arrows imaginable, some African-American road warriors, federal agents, and sundry maniacal crackers.

Battles strains to make The Baytown Outlaws edgy and black-humored in a manner that positively screams, “I just wanna be Tarantino!” The film is fitfully diverting, but all the violence soon cancels itself out and a cacophonous monotony sets in rather quickly. But the film has a handsome digital look, as photographed by Dave McFarland, and it is thankfully populated by various colorful character actors joyfully hamming it up, like Andre Braugher as the equivocal sheriff, Michael Rapaport as a roadhouse manager, and wonderful John McConnell (who gave a magnificent performance as Big Daddy in Maureen Morley and Tom Willmorth’s genius Tennessee Williams parody The Glass Mendacity) as a particularly mendacious senator.

The actors portraying the Oodies are all definite eye candy in a particular rough-trade kind of way and ply their macho meanderings adeptly. Longoria has very little to do apart from being feisty and fetching, but Thornton seems to be enjoying himself playing this particular scum of the earth, and has some drily amusing, twangy line readings. Things do take a turn for the insufferable, however, with a last-act moment of commiseration between dim-witted McQueen and the sweetly challenged Rob, for whom this pistol-packin’ lout suddenly turns rather Annie Sullivan in The Miracle Worker.