Review: Baghdad Texas *ReelWorld Screening*

by Christopher Misch



One of the more interesting films of the 11th Annual ReelWorld Film Festival was David H. Hickey’s Baghdad Texas. Mostly set within the confines of a Texan ranch, somewhere along the American/Mexican border, Baghdad Texas opens as an airplane containing an unnamed Middle Eastern dictator (though it’s clearly Saddam Hussein) crashes down, killing all but one of its passengers. Badly injured the dictator survives; though his victory is only momentary, as not more than a few minutes later he is accidentally run over by three American redneck cowboys riding along in their beat-up pickup truck. While knocked unconscious, the unnamed dictator once again survives a near death experience. When the three men, two of which are drunk off their rocker, discover that he has survived the incident, they take him back to the ranch to recover and place him under the care of their Mexican housekeeper. It is not until one of the Americans pulls out a foreign dollar bill from the dictator’s pocket and notices the similarities in appearance between the portrait on the currency and injured man passed out front of him that they realize just exactly whose company they are in.

Baghdad Texas is certainly no Paris Texas, both in content, quality, and emotional resonance, it is however a light satirical drama that attempts to transcend stereotypes and provide the odd chuckle in the process. Given the overall ridiculous and absurd premise of the film, you’d think there would be room for plenty of laughs and bitter satire, but that’s just simply not the case. There were several comedic attempts, but these were consistently unsuccessful and frequently fell flat. The satirical nature of the film is also surprisingly very limited. The intriguing decision to paint Saddam Hussein as a much more humane and caring individual than we are used to him being portrayed in the media is sure to raise some eyebrows.

Similar to most of the films screened at ReelWorld, Baghdad Texas is certainly a film that had economic restraints, as evident by the hand-sown FBI insignia on the back of a federal agent’s jacket and the general poor aesthetic of the film overall, but it does have a fair amount of heart, and a little heart can go a long way. However, the film’s heart isn’t large enough to eclipse its economical shortcomings, unnecessary over-the-top performances, and consistent failed attempts at something even resembling humour.

43/100 - The film’s big heart isn’t large enough to hide its economical shortcomings, unnecessary over-the-top performances, and failed attempts at something even resembling humour.

Christopher Misch

I've always loved movies, but it wasn't until under the tutelage of Professor Garry Leonard at the University of Toronto that my passion for the industry became an understanding of an art form. With a specific fascination in both the western genre and Asian cinema in general, I am of the view that good movies are either enlightening or entertaining, and if you are truly lucky they are both.
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