But before I talk about the movie here is a little backstory on the cafe. There once was really a place called that Bagdad Cafe in Bagdad, CA. From what I've read Bagdad was a bustling little town when Route 66 was still active. But as the town got bypassed it went downhill quickly, till all that is left are ruins (even in 1987). The building that was called the Bagdad Cafe in the movie was actually the Sidewinder Cafe in Newberry Springs, CA some 50 miles to the West down Route 66. In honor of the movie the Sidewinder permanently changed its name to the Bagdad Cafe.
Now as for the movie:
Here is a quick and hopefully spoiler free synopsis. A German woman by the name of Jasmine gets into a fight with her husband and leaves him, by stomping out of there car and down Route 66 into the Mojave. Meanwhile the owner of the Bagdad Cafe, Brenda gets into a fight with her husband but he drive off and leaves her. At the point Jasmine arrives at the cafe, and books a room into its a joining but seldom used motel.
The meeting of the two women at first is a bit tense, especially as Jasmine doesn't approve of Brenda's unorganized nature. Soon Jasmine is reorganizing things much to Brenda's chagrin. But soon the two begin to work as a team as both women find the support they have been needing in each other. Basically Brenda softens and tones herself down, and Jasmine finds a sense of belonging in this odd desert community. Later in attempting to entertain Brenda's children, they discover Jasmine is a wonderful magician and soon use the talent to attract travelers to the cafe.
Obviously there is some drama here and there and the plot is not as simple as all this but hopefully you get the idea.
Now I have to admit that this may not entirely be a family movie. First of all there is some nudity, very brief but none the less there twice and you can pretty much tell that it's going to happen, especially as Jasmine becomes the subject of a local artist. How they managed to do that and get a PG rating, I don't know. Also the plot can be a bit heavy at times for smaller Kids, and the film also takes a while to get going. Oh, yeah there is also smoking and drinking going on at times too, I know that matters to some folks. I would say the film would be good for teens and pre-teens.
Personally the film does have some redeeming qualities. We see the value of teamwork, and community within the film. Also as the movie progresses it does have a feel good quality to it, that seems to almost opposite of its beginning.
As far as its connection to Route 66 what can I say, it's filmed on location. You have to remember 1987 was only three years after the final piece if the route was decommissioned, so Route 66 isn't rally mentioned in the film since at that time it was considered to be a dead highway. But both the actual Bagdad Cafe, and it's stand-in the Sidewinder are both right on Route 66. No side roads to travel it's right there.