The best thing you’ll see all week: Baytown Outlaws

, | Movie reviews

Here’s some good ol’ boy white trash grindhouse with the slightest whiff of Southern gothic. Its starts off pretty simple. Clayne Crawford (pictured, the unlikely heart of the movie), Travis Fimmel, and Daniel Cudmore are three unbathed violent redneck brothers for hire. Damsel in distress Eva Longoria hires them to get a McGuffin from Billy Bob Thornton. But when the McGuffin happens, Baytown Outlaws takes a strange turn.

Let me digress for a moment. Did you see Hit and Run? Because you should. It’s a collaboration among Dax Shepherd, Kristen Bell, a strong supporting cast, and some truly sexy cars. In Hit and Run, the word “fag” comes up. And even though Hit and Run is a movie seriously in love with the olden days of Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw trying to get away from stuff, it’s also a movie about seriously decent people with modern sensibilities. So the movie’s reaction to the word “fag” is really sweet on a couple of levels.

Baytown Outlaws — in which the brothers freely call each other faggots, as you’d expect — does for “retard” what Hit and Run did for “fag”. What a lovely touch of dignity in a white trash grindhouse action movie. It even allows its characters to progress from shooting people in the faces to pondering the nature of God before shooting a bunch of bad guys who have climbed into trees for no other reason than to get shot out of them.

Not to give Baytown Outlaws too much credit. It’s got its share of stumbles. It’s a minor crime to squander Zoe Bell. She’s best known as Uma Thurman’s stunt double from Kill Bill who got to be onscreen and on the hood of a car in Death Proof. Here she’s little more than a body for a costume and a trigger finger for an absurd shotgun. How hard is it to do a good action scene in which a bunch of sexy whore assassins — the movie even calls them that — fight it out with the heroes in a roadhouse? Apparently too hard for Baytown Outlaws, which has been watching a lot of Terminator and Near Dark. But you’ll have to see Rza’s Man with the Iron Fists to see whore assassins done right. There’s still more ridiculousness in store as several more rounds of McGuffin chasers pile into this particular picaresque clown car of a movie.

While Baytown Outlaws might not have the budget to shoot its Road Warrior sequence with the spectacle it deserves, at least it can afford exactly the right music. And it has a few good actors beyond the three brothers. Andre Braugher and Billy Bob Thornton are slumming it, but the stars of Armageddon and Poseidon are no strangers to slumming it. Although Braugher is obviously enjoying himself, Thornton just seems annoyed he was cast. I guess it’s a character choice.

Baytown Outlaws is available on video on demand. Support Quarter to Three by watching it from this Amazon link.

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