The Baytown Outlaws (2012)

(On Cable TV, December 2013) I’m becoming increasingly fond of the small-scale gems that emerge from the muck of Cable TV movie channels, and The Baytown Outlaws pretty much qualifies as such.  It’s not a big, profound or even all that clever film, but it’s executed with a decent amount of energy and skill.  It helps that the tone of the film is the kind of snarky crime/comedy/action hybrid that I can watch all day long.  Here, Billy Bob Thornton and Eva Longoria slum a bit as (respectively) a crime lord and his abused ex-girlfriend who hires three vigilante anti-heroes to rescue her godson from him.  The plot is slight, but the incidents along the way are certainly off-beat, ranging from a killer group of prostitutes, road pirates and native bikers.  The Baytown Outlaws is anarchic, scattered, cartoonish (sometime literally so, to good effect) and morally off-center, but it’s also steadily amusing as what it does.  Writer/director Barry Battles clearly stretches his modest budget beyond what could have been expected from such a production.  Best seen as part of the grind-house exploitation sub-genre, The Baytown Outlaws exceeds expectations, and that alone distinguishes it from most little-known movies that show up on cable TV alongside the most familiar titles.

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