So, this was quite the movie.
The first trailer I saw for it, I didn’t quite know what to think. The whole thing was just bizarre. And it is bizarre. And charming. Very Edgar Wright.
I love Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz and World’s End. I liked Scott Pilgrim pretty well. I love Spaced. The Adventures of TinTin (which he co-wrote) was okay. Ant-Man (which he also co-wrote) is fantastic. So I have a history of at least liking Edgar Wright films, which is why despite my lukewarm reception to the trailer, I decided to go for it anyway.
Besides, it was $5 movie night at a local theater, so even in the unlikely event I hated it, I didn’t spend too much money on it.
There is a lot to love about this movie. The soundtrack is pretty great, but better than that, almost all, if not all, the action is in time with whatever Baby is listening to at that moment. That’s not something you see often. But every blip of electronics, every tire squeal or gun bang, is all in time to the music. That is skill.
Baby’s adopted dad is deaf, but that doesn’t stop him. He watches TV and listens to music by feeling the vibrations. He and Baby have long conversations through sign language, and no one makes fun of him for being deaf. It’s a nice parallel too since he can’t hear, and Baby has a hearing deficit. It’s even nicer because no matter what is happening, all Baby wants is for Joe to be okay and safe. Baby loves his girl, but he is devoted to Joe.
The humor is, of course, quirky, but amusing. There is a scene where they start to do something, and then it gets derailed, and when it gets back on track, Baby refuses to drive until he’s restarted the song. There’s another where he takes a car from a lady, and spends a good 30 seconds or so surfing through radio channels to find just the right song before jetting off even though the cops were hot on his trail. It’s little things, like that which define Wright, and are very prevalent in this movie as well.
The characters are all interesting. I wanted to know more about Doc (Kevin Spacey) and just who he was and how he got into all this. It’s probably because we don’t know much that he is so interesting. But he’s also not a one-note character. He’s shown getting scared or angry or even reluctantly helping in a situation he knows he shouldn’t be helping in. He has a soft spot for Baby even if he doesn’t admit it (and even if it is tiny). Bats is bats. Undoubtedly, that’s where he got his name. I wasn’t into him, but I’m also not sure you were supposed to be. Buddy and Darling were amazing together, and Buddy himself was one of those that I thought I had figured out until something near the end happened, and my perception got turned on him.
Baby of course was good, as you would hope since it’s his character. He starts out seemingly this uncaring, almost naive person. And maybe he was at the beginning of the movie, but he wisens up, starts to stick up for himself, even if that ultimately causes things to go south. The best part is that even at his worst and most desperate, he is a good person. He saved the life of someone just because she was nice and he didn’t want to see her killed. He gave the purse of the lady he stole a car from just because she expressed distress about it. It’s iterated several times that he’s a good person, and even after all he went through, he was. It’s nice to see that. He’s not perfect good. He did bad things, and he paid for them. He did things for the wrong reasons too, some times, but at the end of it all, he was just trying to do what was right.
Honestly, the most strange thing for me is I couldn’t decide if it was modern day or not. Which seems like a strange complaint but it was honestly a little distracting for me. Baby himself was something like 20 probably, but in the flashbacks to his childhood, it looked more like the 70’s than late 90’s. There were smartphones and modern skyscrapers and cars, but he recorded music and used all this old tech to remix it. He had iPods from every era of them, from the first to the most recent, and still insisted on using tapes. He also used records, but those are coming back into style so I won’t count that. There were a lot of old cars as well as new, modern ones. The diner was like a 50’s diner, there were payphones still in service, and his dreams looked like they were from the 50’s as well, and yet the rest of the world around him seemed fairly up-to-date with things like chip POS. The dream sequences can be as bizarre and old timey as they want, but some of the rest of it just sort of made me scratch my head. I’m mostly certain it was supposed to be modern day, but I can’t say that without a doubt.
It shouldn’t be something that bothered me as much as it did, but it did.
Even so, there was so much charm and quirkiness in this movie, I really enjoyed it even in the times I felt cognitive dissonance because of the tech. And the car chases were really, really fun. I was just absorbed during them.
But I would hate to be in a car with Baby. I think I’d pee myself.