Working from a what-if premise it has little idea how to handle, Baghdad, Texas follows the sitcom exploits of three Texas ranchers in 2003 after they accidentally run over an apparent illegal “wetback” who, it turns out, may in fact be Saddam Hussein. Having crash-landed during an escape flight to Cuba, the mustached Arab proves a stroke of good fortune for the poor rednecks, who view their hostage as a potential goldmine. Despite his bickering protagonists’ bumbling efforts to decide upon and execute a clear course of action, director David H. Hickey never settles on a coherent tone, his synthesis of limp humor, faint magic-realism (involving the recurring sight of a camel), and unfocused social commentary resulting in punishing inertia. In this wannabe-satire, Americans are buffoonish targets of mockery by philosophical day laborers, the maybe-dictator is a softy who effortlessly charms a Mexican farmhand, and the lone FBI agent on the case is an incompetent dolt. Aside from a mildly amusing early jab at upper-class weekend-warrior hunters, Hickey’s overarching arguments about war, diplomacy, and American intelligence aren’t just muddled, but altogether nonexistent, leaving his comedically challenged film Iraqi-desert-level barren.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 25, 2010