Tuesday, August 05, 2008

FGFC: Beardless Brolin edition (AKA "The Car")

So once again the time is here, we hang our hats, put up our feet, grab our favorite snacks and drinks, shut out the lights, remove our pants, and tune into the Final Girl Film Club pick. Which of course can be found over at Final Girl.

...What, you don't do the pants thing? Whatevs.

This month's pick is a big one for me. Not only had I heard of the movie prior to it being picked but for the first time ever I had actually seen the damn thing. Of course in the name of science I did give it a second watch just for the club. Also if you were thinking that having prior knowledge of the movie made it possible for me to write this up in an “on-time” manner you must be new. Actually the plan was to view and write during the day on Sunday when I was clear but once again fate thwarted my attempt. This time it was the form of 20 power free hours. But by Brolin's Beard* I sear to thee that I shall have this out before midnight PST.

So “The Car,” which was this month's pick really interested me when I first heard about it. First point of order though I wish it were so I am unfortunately by no means a gearhead. But I am a wannabe! So any movie about a car in some fashion that doesn't require lots of knowledge about said car excites me. It really is a matter that hurts me, “Two Lane Blacktop,” “Vanishing Point,” and even “Bullitt” are movies that I do really like but I always always feel as if I'm missing something in the translation. That may be a sad commentary on me as a person. Also I should apologize in advance, this thing kinda got away from me. It's long, crazy, and I think I was jerk enough to leave a few bad puns laying around.

So anyway back to “The Car.” James Brolin, an evil murderous car, 1977, which way will this go? Well lets see.

The Story
The story is fairly simple. Which is the beauty of it!

A car made of evil is on the loose and wreaking havoc on a small Utah town. Said evil ends up gaining the attention of the police Capt. Wade Parent (James Brolin) which could be problematic for the car's future in evildoing.

Thoughts: Good or Bad?
See, told you it was simple. Well ok you got me I could go into synopses and make it more complex but really going in that is ALL that I needed to be excited. That may make me an easy mark I'm not sure. Still the fact remains.

But did it hold up to my expectations? After two viewings I'd have to say yes, yes it has. The movie simply had it all; action, adventure, mystery, mild spelunking...

What can I say “The Car” had me from the beginning. The first kill(s) set a good tone. Two random bikers going across a bridge are harassed first and then bumped off by The Car. Sadly I don't have the ability to paint a picture with my words that would do it justice but it did a nice job of setting things up. Loud, intense, unapologetic, but not gory. Got it!

The pace set forth by the first attack by the car was kept up nicely with the second attack. This time instead of random bikers we get to meet the victim. A man who goes by the name of Johnny Norton. A man by the way that on my first watch through I thought was going to be a pivotal character through the movie, he had just enough detail to fool me into believing that he would stick around. Sadly he made the mistake of uttering to the speeding past car one of my favorite taunts I've ever heard; “Up yours with a splintered fiddle!” Thats just awesome, isn't it? But seriously even though young Johnny tried to do the right thing and stop spousal abuse he also did something evil in its own right, he played the French horn early in the morning while people are probably still sleeping. He deserved the plowdowning that he got and at least one of the backups. Also...he was a hippie, farting music for a whole year indeed!

And what of our man Wade? We first get to meet him as he wakes up with Lauren (Kathleen Lloyd) his lover watching him sleep. What ensues is typical let's do it before the kids get in here fare which she takes care of in a quite unique and might I say discomfort inducing manner. Still a lot is packed into that little scene. We learn that Wade is a single father of two, they don't know that Lauren sleeps over (except that they do, he just doesn't know), he is a cop, Lauren is a teacher. But most importantly we learn that it is highly possible that Josh Brolin isn't actually the start of “No Country for Old Men” my theory is that James Brolin in 1977 stumbled upon a time machine directly after filming “The Car” flashed forward in time and stepped out directly onto the set. Picture evidence below.

See what I mean?

So anyway going forward The Car rampages more, reports come in, including one that the car has no driver. Now here is another thing I really liked about the movie. It didn't play out like a “monster” movie with a Satan car. It played out like a crazy automobile movie, that is how the cops handled it, that is how the cops Would handle it if it were real (what is real?). It just so happens that this crazy automobile might in fact be the devil, who knew!? There wasn't any magic, no spells or curses, just cars, speed, and explosives!

There were some cheesy cliches in there, I won't lie. Extremely flammable from inside the cab cars for starters. Thats a standard I know but it always strikes me as a little bit strange to me. Maybe its because of that episode of Mythbusters, or maybe I really am jaded? Also Lauren taunting the car at the cemetery was a little questionable. She had no idea why it wouldn't come in there to get her so when she started it seemed a bit unintelligent (and she is a teacher remember?). Of course it provided a good comic beat to break up some of the uncomfortableness, and then when it became necessary to keep The Car distracted it worked.

Cheesy in a good way was the Devils in the fireball at the end. And by the way, did you notice that the only way to kill an evil car of any kind is to actually blow it up. Well that isn't true, K.A.R.R. Survived an explosion!

I really can't think of too much to even say about the movie that would fall under the “didn't like” banner. About the only thing that I thought was kind of a bummer was the way that Lauren went out. Yeah it was important that she go so that Wade could take the revenge kick up a notch. But I just don't like the idea that she can have these dumb moments like she does.

Here is a hint for you Lauren if you are being stalked by a murderous vehicle always have a lookout and an escape. Don't send your only refuge off to check on his family, especially not if he is supposed to be on the job! Also if you are standing in front of a big window and you can see some headlights outside of it paired with a loud and unsettling honk feel free to assume that you are right and The Car is there and you should find higher ground. Don't wast time making a call to voice your suspicions. Seriously she was pretty much asking The Car to turn her house into a drive-through.

Final Thought
I'd recommend giving this a rent without hesitation. There are some scares in there that come in the form of discomfort. The old “Jaws” like adage of a loud noise repeated can affect you is really in effect here but in a non rip-off way.

There is some subtle but good stuff in there. The wind the precedes the car was probably my favorite. Also most of the non major characters had their own little sub stories going on that helped develop them a bit. I've never read the book but my instinct is that this is some of the good holdover coming from there.

Though I thought the ending of the movie was pretty good and didn't seem out of place apparently there is an alternate ending that is the ending from the book. I kind of wish I had seen that.

* I have in fact been using the term “Brolin's Beard” far far too often since Stacie coined it.

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