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That was a Fucking Movie!!! (a Baby Driver Review)

Well that was a fucking movie! I know it seems like I say that in a lot of reviews. But it’s all about inflection. You can tell it’s different because of the word “fucking” See, I walk out of a lot of movies and I say something like… “well… that was a movie…” and it’s sort of like I’m half reminding myself that I did actually just watch a motion picture… or maybe I’m not really sure, so I’m sort of asking myself if that’s what I did.

That’s not the case here. Baby Driver is more like “Well!!!! THAT was a FUCKING MOVIE!!!

And it really was. It was a MOVIE. A complete and total movie from start to finish. And what’s more, it was a genre movie. It’s basically a heist film. But it’s still a complete movie. A story. There’s like a beginning, a middle, and an end and everything!

I kind of forgot that was possible. Especially with a genre movies.

What really drove it home was the trailers. Before the movie there were trailers for Kingsmen 2, Daddy’s Home 2, Pitch Perfect 3, Bladerunner 2, Flatliners (2017), and Dark Tower. Four sequels, one reboot and the first film in a planned franchise. There was also a trailer for an upcoming horror movie called Wish Upon. Maybe there will only be one of those… but it’s a gimmick horror movie with a $12M budget. Those only exist on the dream that they hopefully kick off a franchise of cheap films that you can make over and over again. In other words, literally every movie they advertised before this film is part of a prospective series of films.

Because right now, as much as TV wants to be the movies, movies really really really want to be television. And this is becoming a serious problem. I have no problem with film franchises or cinematic universes. I love a good Spider-man movie as much as the next guy and I’m looking forward to seeing one next week. But there’s an issue when you’re only adapting existing intellectual property instead developing new stuff. Sooner or later you’re going to run out of good intellectual property to adapt and extend and then you’re going to have to start working with shit. What I’m saying is… who the fuck was asking for a Flatliners reboot? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Yeah… I didn’t think so. What’s next, adapting a fucking emoji film? Spoilers… yes, they’re actually making an emoji movie. Or rather they made one. It comes out in a couple weeks. Because… ?

Anyway… Baby Driver isn’t that. In fact, Baby Driver is the opposite of that. Baby Driver is a FUCKING MOVIE!!!

The other problem with building films like this is that they are often built by committee. When you’re building a franchise, you want everything to run together. Your ultimate goal is to make money, so you need to create a world that is cohesive and repeatable more than you need to create art. This is a problem for both good franchises and bad. I don’t care if you’re Star Wars or the DCEU. When you lose the singular vision of the director, and your movie stops being a cohesive single story, then it begins to lose something. It’s not that those can’t be fun to watch. But they’re frequently not good movies. Fun, maybe, but not necessarily good. They often evolve into something else, because productization is more important than story or art.

Anyway… Baby Driver isn’t that either. In fact, Baby Driver is the opposite of that. Baby Driver is a FUCKING MOVIE!!!

And it really was. It was fucking great. Was it the best story? No. It was actually a relatively simple story. It was very formulaic. None of the characters were all that deep or fully developed. They were all pretty much one-note, in fact. Two seconds into seeing Jamie Foxx on screen you’ll say “oh… ok… he’s that guy.” Same with John Hamm. Same with Kevin Spacey. Same with Lily James, Same with Jon Bernthal.  And the same with Elza Gonzalez. Don’t expect any surprises out of the their characters. Whatever you get from your first impression of them… that’s pretty much who they are. That also includes the main character of Baby, played by Ansel Elgort. You get introduced to his quirks and persona in the first minute or two of the film, and from there on out, he’s pretty much just that. There are also a few big plot holes in it. The third act of the film could have more or less been avoided if the main character had not made a choice that he didn’t want to make but did so anyway for no apparent reason whatsoever. He is literally given a choice of A or B and basically says “well, if I choose B, the movie will end so I guess I’ll just go with A.” There’s not a lot of storytelling in this and there’s not a ton of emotional or character development.

And it wasn’t about that. This was about making a piece of art! There was some character development. There was some plot movement. But they were just tools used to construct the whole that is the stunning cinematic statement that is Baby Driver. The plot was no more important than the musical score. In fact, it was arguably less important. Because the film is constructed more like a symphony than a story. The music drives everything. In the same way that Mad Max: Fury Road was a film that was about the cinematography, this is a film that is about the score. And somehow it works. You know how I’ve said before that Sucker Punch is the most fun movie you can make without plot? Well this is what happens if you add just a little plot back in.. and a little bit of character… and then try to make it good. Roll the entire thing around fun action set pieces and bake at 350 until a movie rises…. allow to cool on a window sill…

And somehow it works. Baby Driver was a FUCKING MOVIE!!!

In other words, Zack Snyder wants to be Edgar Wright when he grows up.

He really does. This is exactly the kind of movie that I think Snyder wants to make. Only like… it’s good and stuff (actually its fucking great! if you haven’t been paying attention). What made it work is that Wright takes all the pieces and combines them into a vision that makes a statement with his medium. There’s a lot of “cool” bits in this movie. There are a lot of stunning scenes. But they are crafted together., They complete each other as a cohesive whole, rather than just being randomly strewn together because they were cool. Each piece compliments another. Jamie Foxx’s performance, by-the-numbers as it is (he’s played the basic character before), pushes the the plot forward. He provides a necessary complication in the world the film constructs. Elza Gonzalez’s character is pure sexiness, but she serves to develop both John Hamm and Lily James’s characters purely through contrast. The car chases and stunts while less epic than what you might expect in a Fast and Furious movie, work as plot points that literally move the story as the car travels through physical space perfectly tuned with the music that marks the passage of time. And each of these things combines to make the character of Baby, who honestly is as much of a simplistic stereotype as everyone else, amazingly compelling. You watch Elgort’s performance and you think “holy shit?!?!? where the fuck did the kid from Divergent learn how to act?!?!?”

The whole thing just works. Everything comes together and makes for a film that is better than the sum of it’s parts. Baby Driver was a FUCKING MOVIE!!!

And this is what I want. A movie that stands on its own. One of the things I always try to do with franchise films (especially the ones after the first) is ask myself “would you care about this at all if you didn’t know the source material?” This was my problem wirh Ghostbusters(2016). It wasn’t actually “good”; it was just a movie CALLED “Ghostbusters” that happened to have women in it. If it were called Spirit Killers, no one would have given a fuck about it either way. It would have been like Rough Night a couple weeks ago. But if Rough Night had been the same movie as it was and was just called Hangover 4: Ladies’ Night, a sequel in name only, it likely would have at least doubled if not tripled its box office. But at the cost of diluting the film marketplace even more. Because it’s not as good as Hangover was.

Baby Driver could have just as easily been called Heat 2: One Last Job or Gone in 60 More Seconds and tied into an existing franchise. It didn’t, It didn’t need to. It took itself seriously in and of itself and it works well in its own world. Not trying to set up a sequel and not trying to hold true to prequels that already exist. It is its own film with a beginning, middle and end. Just like this review.

And it was great… because Baby Driver is a FUCKING MOVIE!!!

★★★★¼(4.25 out of 5 stars)

17 comments for “That was a Fucking Movie!!! (a Baby Driver Review)

  1. avatar
    July 1, 2017 at 6:15 am

    I will actually say one thing surprised me: I really thought they were setting up [REDACTED] to be the big villain at the end, rather than heroically helping Baby.

    • avatar
      July 1, 2017 at 8:01 am

      yeah, that was something that was a surprise in not really a good way. It wasn’t earned. It was too convenient. It was another thing that just sort of happened because it needed to in order to keep the plot moving.

      These are the minor details that made it not a perfect 5 star movie.

    • avatar
      July 1, 2017 at 9:20 am

      Chris Maverick yes. There should have been something that happened earlier that would help us make sense of this.

  2. avatar
    July 1, 2017 at 8:24 am

    An additional thing that I was going to bring up but didn’t really fit into the review. I like how the love story developed. Obviously there wasn’t much to it. It was way too simplistic for real life… but in the context of the world of the film as it was developed, it built completely believably… this is as opposed to say, the love story in Wonder Woman which I didn’t buy into at all.

  3. avatar
    July 1, 2017 at 8:56 am

    This doesn’t suprise me, every trailer and TV spot I saw for this just made me that much more excited to see it. My only question, as someone that’s poor and generally tries to save his theater experience for films that work best in the theater, is this movie one that works best on the big screen with all the sound, or would I still enjoy it as much on Netflix? I suspect the answer is theater, and I lean that way just because I’m not sure I want to wait for a digital release, but this has been a summer filled with theater movies for me, with Spider-Man next week being on that list as well, and that theater cost is adding up. I’ve probably already spent more at the movies this year than the previous two combined. Still, this looks great and might be worth that price.

    • avatar
      July 1, 2017 at 8:57 am

      It’s cinematic, but it’s not cinematic in the same way as Fury Road or even Fast and Furious. It’s not “grandiose” visually.

    • avatar
      July 1, 2017 at 8:58 am

      So it could be enjoyed on a smaller screen… but It would be improved by the bigger screen.

    • avatar
      July 1, 2017 at 8:58 am

      (it’s more about the music)

    • avatar
      July 1, 2017 at 8:59 am

      And I will admit, part of the attraction is the way it seems they used music to effectively “conduct” a heist movie. It’s a very interesting concept.

    • avatar
      July 1, 2017 at 9:01 am

      There is a cheap theater near me in North Versailles, maybe I can catch it there and get all the great sound without the cost.

    • avatar
      July 1, 2017 at 9:54 am

      Yeah, if you can see it somewhere with Dolby Atmos it’s especially worth that.

  4. avatar
    July 15, 2017 at 5:19 pm

    Okay! I understand the points you were making. I do think the movie had a beginning, middle and end. It didn’t just kind of fall off and I’m glad they didn’t try to set this up for a sequel. (Can’t stand that!)

    I realized that the music was what really drove the movie, but honestly I didn’t know ANY Of the music. So it didn’t really make me “feel” much. I guess since I’m much younger and it’s not the type of music I go for anyway. (I’m more of a an r and b, jazz, meditation music pop, trap music fan).

    I did find the love story in this movie more realistic than in Wonder Woman and I thought they were cute together. Neither one of them had much to lose so why not get together. It didn’t feel like the typical woman giving up everything for a man type thing. They’re both simple people and one just happens to be an awesome driver.

    The thing that was weird to me was that I felt like Baby and Debora were living in a different era than everyone else in the movie. It was just….strange. I didn’t like that. Everyone else seemed so much more advanced and they just seemed…far behind. I don’t know how to explain that but I couldn’t get over that. I get that people have accents and all but they seemed more “removed” from regular society than Darling, Buddy and Bats!

    So, my rating is:
    ⭐️⭐️+ ? (2 stars plus a fucking cookie as you’d say). The cookie is for that fact that I thought it was different from other movies I’ve seen and because Ansel is cute!

    • avatar
      July 15, 2017 at 5:54 pm

      That’s completely fair criticism on Baby and Debora. Like we both said, they’re all very simple people. Them as well as everyone else. They’re very one-note. And usually that’s a big negative for me. But here they all seemed to embrace their singular archetypes and it just kind of works for me.

      The music criticism is interesting. You’re definitely younger than the target demo for the soundtrack, so it’s interesting that you had that response and i wonder how that plays out for other people who are music fans but out of the target demo. So I’m tagging another of my favorite people who likes movies but is younger than me. Hey at Kaileigh Marie how did you feel about the music in Baby Driver? And did you like the movie? Any thoughts on it?

      Some people are actually calling for a sequel. I kind of don’t want that. i want these characters to just live in this story.

      And I appreciate the fucking cookie. 🙂

    • avatar
      July 15, 2017 at 6:31 pm

      Pfft. Baby driver? Ugh. Hated it. Totally didn’t like it at all. This isn’t my background……?

      Personally I loved the music!! I’ve been listening to only the soundtrack since it came out.

      I saw the movie twice and really enjoyed it both times. I totally get the Baby and Deborah seeming like they were in a different time period but I felt like it worked in the way they did it/as a way of connecting them. And I really liked them as a couple. But I might be biased cause I have my own brown haired white boy who wears those same sunglasses at all times, and I wear a jean jacket every day of my life no matter how hot it is. But aside from costuming their relationship reminded me of Jonathan and I. I liked how they did the “we just met but are also very in love” thing because they were able to develop their relationship in the short amount of time without it seeming forced.

      Also, I’ve been writing and making music videos that don’t necessarily correspond with the song since I was 11, so I LOVED seeing that in a movie. My dream job is pretty much making movies like Baby Driver, where the music is so essential to the way it is edited. I live for editing perfectly on beats.

      So yeah over all I fuckin LOVED it. Also Kevin Spacey is great in everything. I really liked the whole cast and thought they each brought something to the table that added to the story.

    • avatar
      July 16, 2017 at 9:32 am

      So your boyfriend is a professional getaway driver? I think you maybe need to rethink some of your life choices, hon.

      Seriously though, I think it’s sort of interesting to think about the differences in perspective between the Kaileigh and Ayana’s reviews. You’re in the same generation, and in fact Kai is slightly younger. But i think it’s more about the appreciation for the way the film is constructed. Like, Ayana is right in that the movie actually makes no damn sense at all. And it is so predicated on the music that if you don’t buy into it, the film probably falls apart. BUT, if you do enjoy the music and you buy into the concept that this is about telling the story primarily with the score rather than the cinematography, then it becomes a brilliant film study.

      That said… seriously, Kai… don’t fall for criminal boys….

    • avatar
      July 17, 2017 at 10:27 am

      Kaileigh Marie @ I agree considering it was such a short time, it didn’t seem forced at all. Which is shocking but awesome that they were able to actually pull that off.

      I’m glad you enjoyed it overall though ?

      The music was clearly the main aspect of this movie and if you liked the music then I can totally understand your excitement over it!

    • avatar
      July 17, 2017 at 10:29 am

      Chris Maverick Yeah if it had the music I liked and music that I knew really well, I would have loved it. In fact I kept waiting to hear music that sounded familiar to me, but it never came lol.

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