Baby Driver (2017)
D. Edgar Wright
So last Sunday (I think it was Sunday, I mean, it sure looked like a Sunday) I venture to the multiplex to see this movie called Baby Driver. And, of course, there being no likelihood of encountering a plot, I go in with one question and one question only.
Will they or won’t they?
And being a skeptic, pessimist, Gloomy Gus, what-have-you, I know they won’t, not in a million years, but the whole purpose of never expecting anything good to happen is to get all the joy you can from it when it does, so I have….well, not hope, exactly, but I don’t allow myself to be entirely immune to the idea.
It’s not healthy to be rational every second of every day.
There’s no way you’ll hear voices calling out from burning bushes if you take that attitude!
Then the movie starts with a bank robbery (it’s about a kid who drives for bank robbers and calls himself Baby–get it?) played out over some sort of Noise-A-Tron track all the hip kids probably know by heart and, just like in high school, it goes way over my head, so I safely conclude “No, they won’t…not in a million years!” and prepare to munch my popcorn (figuratively speaking, I never literally eat popcorn in a movie theater unless its the Alabama Theater in Birmingham) and sip water from my courtesy cup (yes, I had eyed the prices at the concession stand, hoping–and, having seen $4.99 next to the cheapest bottle of water, abandoned hope immediately as no doubt the movie would be sufficient to remind me of my face’s permanent relationship to the Overlord’s boot-sole all by itself) in peace.
But then, a funny thing happens.
Baby goes to get some coffee for his fellow bandits (he’s the kid, he’s the driver, he gets a full cut….he needs to earn his keep) and while he’s strolling down the street, this breaks out…
…as the soundtrack to Baby’s street-walk.
And I start thinking….Is it possible?….That….maybe….they will?
I settle in for two hours of mildly diverting suspense….with CGI car-chases for aspirin chasers.
And that’s what happens, alright. Only with diversions.
Every now and then, someone on screen tries to emulate a human emotion…and it’s scary.
How close they get.
Okay, twice. But still, in a car chase movie that’s a lot.
It’s the music, principally.
The writer/director (Edgar Wright, if anyone’s keeping score) seems to be working on a theory that runs something like this: Feelings come in two shades. Those worth having and those not worth having.
The natural soundtrack for those worth having consists of sixties’ soul music.
The natural soundtrack for those not worth having, consists of Noise-A-Tronics. Modernity, if you will.
Since this is pretty much in line with my own world view, I start thinking:
“Maybe they will….I mean it could happen.”
Granted, somewhere in there I forget why I’m even there. CGI overkill starts happening. Climaxes start coming. I start counting how many could qualify as the climax. I soon run out of fingers. I look around and realize I’m alone in the aisle, so I take off my shoes and socks and start counting on my toes.
When I run out of those, I’m done.
Florida public school education. Bought and paid for by taxpayer money. You get what the taxpayers pay for.
I put my shoes and socks back on.
More climaxes happen.
Damn public school system. I know the Spanish Armada sailed in 1588 [had it as a multiple choice from grades 2 through 12–had to put some thought into the answers, too, because some years it was c. (and d. was 1589) and other years it was b. (and d. was 1590–see how they try to monkey wrench your brain, those taxpayers?) how could I forget?], but I can’t count past twenty and munch imaginary popcorn at the same time. What good were you education? If I ever get a chance to vote for Ron Paul again, I’m doing it in a heartbeat!
Anyway, after all the climaxes, there’s a slow bit at the end and I vaguely remember there’s a reason I came in here.
What was it again?
“Will they or won’t they?”
There’s Baby going to prison. Does that count as another climax?
Oh, right. It doesn’t matter, I ran out of fingers and toes twenty minutes back.
There’s Baby almost getting a reprieve.
There’s Baby not getting a reprieve and getting five years after all.
There’s Baby’s real name being revealed in a letter from the Girl (did I mention there was a Girl? No? Well, there was. If you didn’t know that one going in, I don’t even want to know where you went to school.)
There’s Baby (or whatever his name is now) strolling out the prison gate .(Dream or reality? Hell, I don’t know. See the movie and discuss it with your art-house friends. And, uh, yeah, do get back to me on that one, let me know what ya’ll decide. I promise I’ll stay blue in the face until you do.)
Where was I again?
Baby’s strolling out the prison gate.
His Girl’s waiting.
With a cool vintage car. The one he’s been dreaming about all movie, or ever since he met Her anyway.
Dressed like the sixties, both of them.
Back when all the feelings worth having were felt and all the records worth hearing were made.
And I think….”Will they?…I mean…”
And then I hear a slightly scratchy acoustic guitar.
And I smile and think….”Now I got to sit through the credits.”
Through which I do not quit smiling the entire time. Best time I had at the movies all decade even if all the Quaaludes on Planet Earth couldn’t make me sit through it again.
I mean, I do have it on CD.
And now I’ve got what I came for…the memory of hearing it in Dolby sound in a big ol’ movie theater.