Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Television Reviews : 'Baja' Disappoints With Trite Plot, Characters

February 19, 1988|KEVIN THOMAS

"Baja Oklahoma" is amiable enough in its laid-back way that you could imagine giving it a try on the tube with your feet propped up and maybe a beer at hand. You'd surely feel shortchanged, however, if you were to spend the time and money to go see it in a theater.

Yet its director, Bobby Roth, tried to get a theatrical booking for this HBO production before it airs Saturday at 8 p.m. on Home Box Office cable, and it still may open next Friday at the Beverly Center Cineplex. This is a bad move, for all it does is underline the film's essential weakness and its failure to measure up to such impressive Roth films as "The Boss' Son" and "Heartbreakers."

On small screen or large, "Baja Oklahoma," which Roth and Dan Jenkins adapted from Jenkins' 1981 novel, relies almost entirely on the considerable talent and charm of Lesley Ann Warren as a honky-tonk barmaid in a little community on the outskirts of Fort Worth. Warren's Juanita Hutchins has had bad luck with men her entire adult life, which has undermined her self-confidence in pursuing her dream of becoming a country-Western songwriter.

Juanita is such a stock character and her story is so trite that not even the beguiling and beautiful Warren can involve us in her fate.

There's little sense of authenticity to the film despite Texas locales, and the attempts at humor are such corny thigh-slappers that they smack of condescension.

Peter Coyote, so splendid as the complex hero of "Heartbreakers," here has little to do as the passive guy who jilted Juanita 20 years earlier and has returned for his father's funeral. As Juanita's adulterous sidekick, Swoosie Kurtz comes on so strong as a twangy good ol' Texas gal that she seems like nothing so much as a New York actress who feels she's slumming. Neither Billy Vera, who provides some original songs, nor Willie Nelson, in brief appearances, add much.

"Baja Oklahoma," well-photographed by Michael Ballhaus, might have made it as an hourlong TV drama, but stretching such thin material to 105 contrived minutes only makes it seem twice as long. Bobby Roth is too young and too talented to set his sights on such synthetic innocuousness.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|