I thought the film was going to be fun, mainly because how could Edgar Wright direct anything that wasn’t going to be one of the best times you had in theaters, the year of each release. His Cornetto Trilogy, SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD… these are amongst my fave films of the 21st Century. And every time I sit to watch one of his films I sit with a giant grin watching the film play through.
With BABY DRIVER, I had that awful eye damage during the SXSW screening which made my eyes so sensitive to light that I couldn’t see what was happening, I had a pounding migraine and it was all happening when all I wanted to do was open my eyes and see, what I was sure was a great film experience, that I was missing out on. So miserable.
I got my second chance with BABY DRIVER when it wound up being the secret screening at the Alamo Drafthouse’s 20th Anniversary event. I didn’t know BABY DRIVER was the film that night, I also didn’t know Edgar Wright was going to be there. Right before the trailers began to play, Edgar comes up behind me to ask if my eyes were ready – which they were. He then began to massage my shoulders while saying into my ear, “This is a Full Service Screening” I include that simply for full disclosure. Did the shoulder massage make my toes tingle and the blood flow better? Absolutely. But the massage was NOTHING IN COMPARISON to the movie.
I watched BLUES BROTHERS last night to just refresh my memory. In many ways, BLUES BROTHERS is the closest thing anyone has seen to BABY DRIVER, and it is a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT FILM. Both are Auto obsessed Super Driving Musicals, but BLUES BROTHERS is really a film with super car action, then breaks along the way for musical numbers. VANISHING POINT is about the Car and the Radio. But BABY DRIVER is different.
If you think about the 30 Best Car movies in film history, none of those films are like this one. And BABY DRIVER isn’t like any single one of them. But it is right there with the 30 best of all time. Just like it’s Soundtrack is a soundtrack you’ll put on with your very favorite driving soundtracks you’ve ever had.
So what is it, what is the magic of this movie? I’d say Edgar Wright, only… when I came out of the film, I was all about Ansel Elgort and before I saw the movie, all my doubts were tied in just not feeling anything off of Ansel Elgort in trailers. It felt forced that the film was surrounding him with Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, Jon Ham, Jon Bernthal and Lily James. I just couldn’t imagine Ansel Elgort being cool. I’ve seen THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, the DIVERGENT series and the CARRIE where he played Tommy Ross – and in all of that – I got shit and shinola for charisma from Ansel. But those movies are not BABY DRIVER.
You know how perfect the pre-FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE Smallville part of SUPERMAN THE MOVIE was? How in tune you were with Clark. How you didn’t know what the Crystal did, but you knew it’d change his life. How everything matters? I feel that way about Baby.
All those other actors, they’re all about BABY. Everyone has a compulsion to know the whys and wheres of Baby. And every nibble of knowledge we get about him, through his actions, his revelations, the things others know about him. His musical choices. All of it builds his character into becoming BABY – the oddest name for a bad ass heart of gold criminal we’ve ever met in film. He’s like Peter Parker without the radioactive spider bite. He’s a kid with all kinds of massive problems, but he’s under the finger of a very bad, albeit cool man. He has an Aunt May, but she’s a he and is deaf or mute, has taught BABY to read lips. His tinnitus is such that he listens to music to interrupt the ringing in his head, allowing him to focus.
BABY is one of the coolest characters in cinema… His world feels dreamy the way Truffaut’s JULES ET JIM feels. He’s as cool as Jules, Jim and Jeanne Moreau to boot. It’s freaky how much I dig this kid. And since he was born in 1994, just 2 years B.A.I.C.N. – that’s freaky. I wonder if BABY DRIVER will unlock his performances in prior films. Sometimes that happens, but here – I just love BABY!
How cool is this world of Baby’s? You’ll spy Walter Hill as a Courtroom Interpreter. Jon Spencer of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion is a Prison Guard. You got Big Boi and Killer Mike in a Restaurant. There’s fucking PAUL WILLIAMS prancing out as The Butcher in a key sequence in the film – that’s SWAN, frigging Little Enos himself! And it just keeps going. There’s even a Red Hot Chile Pepper running around this thing! They’re just dressing – there for those with the eyes to see. There’s a deep track of awesome casting throughout. If you didn’t catch them – it doesn’t matter. Cuz if you love the movie like I do, you go home and you start digging into the IMDB board cuz you recognized… EVERYONE in this movie, but not always in that instant feeling kind of way, but then you do.
But why do you care about Baby – it starts with that opening coffee run. When you’re following the musical life of Baby. A human that dances through life interacting and making note of everything wondrous that so many fools pass by unengaged. Baby is present, alive nearly popping off the emulsion. Now, I don’t know about you, but I did have two yummy margaritas before the movie, so I was a little loose, but the soundtrack for this film had me nearly dancing in my seat. Head bopping to the movie and toe-tapping… softly. AND not so softly! It’s a film where you want the sound to be loud and fucking quality! But it’s also the kind of movie that makes a shit theater fucking rule. You know what I mean?
The love for this movie is like if Matthew Broderick had been James Dean cool and in the real shit, not just a muthafuckin’ Ed Rooney… No – here Baby is being run by fucking Keyser Soze, side saddled with the fucking Punisher and damn Django! He’s got Don Draper & TV’s Santanico Pandemonium in play at all times. And his fucking girl? She’s CINDERELLA. So yeah, this a fucking cool flick.
That soundtrack… It takes things to the mat with James Gunn’s GUARDIANS 2. And I’ve got both on playlists for me. But the 30 tracks with BABY DRIVER is contributing some fucking awesome songs.
How’s the action? Crystal clear & seven shades of groovy! I’ve always marveled at how Edgar puts his work together. From the beginning with SPACED and SHAUN OF THE DEAD, there was just something super special about this particular madman when it came to cuts and the soundtrack… having him turned loose to create an action musical love tale for the ages… well it’s legendary stuff mates!
Now I know – I haven’t really described the movie, given a single real twist or turn, and that’s how it should be, because any tradition explanation with just the facts ma’am style reporting is gonna get the sensation wrong. The sensation of BABY DRIVER – if you want it in a simple song, play Simon & Garfunkel’s BABY DRIVER and listen to it on repeat for a half an hour and let it make you twitch along – smiling like an absolute jackass as the groove has you and as them cars whistle in and out your ears – and that TWANG gets your neck to stretch out, and the beat gets you rockin back and forth, dutching and diving , swaying your shoulders, hop swaying and clapping your hands, and that’s what BABY DRIVER is – a sexy awesome exciting time with dangerous cool beasts amongst all us sweet lambs. Baby is a lamb in Wolf's Clothing! The film is this song and a whole hell of a lot more.
This is Edgar Wright film number 6 and he has hit a new gear, we’re all buckled up for each and every ride he’ll take us on from here! Holy shit what a great time!
Keep it cool, this one is cooler than ice cream!