“Death & Texas” is based on a premise that hasn’t happened yet, but it wouldn’t surprise many people if it did. Football star “Barefoot” Bobby Briggs has been accused and convicted of murder. As a result of this and because he lives in Texas, he’s given the death penalty. However, his team (and the state of Texas) desperately need him in order to have a snowballs chance in hell of winning the “Mega Bowl.” Since the only thing more important to the state than barbeque is football, Briggs is allowed to play in the game on a furlong from prison.
If Briggs can help the team win, there’s a general feeling he could be set free, or at least be taken off death row. If they lose…the death penalty proceedings will probably move forward. Thus the game is truly a life or death situation for the congenial and sweet Briggs.
The film, which is a satire told in documentary form, creates a situation that feels like it really could happen. It sort of ties in to how long the Kobe Bryant rape trial is taking and how, gee whiz…looks like the proceedings won’t really get going until after the NBA playoffs. How convenient.
The film saunters the line between funny and serious and that’s a difficult line to keep your balance on. DiNovis, and his excellent cast do a pretty good job of tiptoeing here. There’s also some truly comic, satirical moments that really click. However I’m not really sure this film is quite as insightful or incendiary as it tries to be. Then again, the death penalty is a tricky argument.
“Death & Texas” is an enjoyable film and DiNovis hits on some fine points about society’s willingness to condemn others, yet still keep the blood off their hands.