It’s unclear what drew the likes of Billy Bob Thornton, Eva Longoria and Andre Braugher to this tepid grindhouse retread, but at least they liven up the proceedings whenever they’re onscreen. Unfortunately, that’s not all that often. The main characters are the Oodie brothers: a trio of rednecks hired to kidnap the godson of a criminal bigwig (Thornton). After they snatch the kid, the Oodies are pursued throughout the South by a series of Warriors-esque gangs, including a bunch of hookers who moonlight as biker hit-women. (Or is that a bunch of hit-women bikers who moonlight as hookers? Tough to tell.)
The Baytown Outlaws positions itself as a throwback to old-school exploitation, and with its sexist, homophobic language and frequent spurts of bloody ultraviolence, the result is certainly not far off. But the Oodies are a bit too heavy on quirks—one is mute and “talks” by pounding on an old Speak & Spell—and far too light on charisma to make compelling heroes. (Note to screenwriters: Naming a character “McQueen” creates all kinds of unrealistic expectations and unflattering comparisons.) Director Barry Battles should have ditched the formulaic thugs-with-hearts-of-gold arc and just made an entire movie about Thornton’s villain—a drug kingpin who’s so deliciously sleazy, profane and amoral that he makes Bad Santa look like Jesus Christ.
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