Baby Driver

We first crossed paths with Edgar Wright in the 2004 sleeper hit Shaun of the Dead. The film put Wright on the map, along with actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Two sequels rounded out the “Blood and Ice Cream” trilogy, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End, continuing Wright’s style of paying homage to genre films with a unique blend of satire and comedy. Wright broke new ground with 2010’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, but the movie under-performed at the box office. Now Wright is back with a fresh original, Baby Driver, and this time he has a summer hit on his hands.

Baby Driver could be described as one, long car chase — roaring out of the gate and never losing speed. Ansel Elgort plays Baby, a getaway driver for bank robbers. Baby isn’t a career criminal like the people he transports. He’s in the game to pay off a debt to Kevin Spacey’s Doc, a man who plans robberies without getting his hands dirty. When Baby pays off his debt, he wants out. But Doc has other plans. Soon Baby finds himself trapped in a web of crime with everyone he loves in jeopardy. Baby Driver isn’t perfect, but it’s as stylish as films come. Not only is it Wright’s highest grossing film to date, it could be his best one too.

Join Jon and Tim as they discuss why superhero films are minivans, Kevin Spacey’s range, the Oscar for sound mixing, if Jon Hamm was miscast, Jon’s bias against flashbacks, third act problems, what makes a good soundtrack, our excitement for Blade Runner 2049, whether Baby is a character or a catalyst, and the peril of playing with sin.

  • DocRLS

    Jon and Tim. I enjoyed your podcast so much and had pretty much the same reaction… so exciting and stylish but really, really flawed “3rd act”. For me it began to fall apart at the gun buying scene and thereafter just became another “kill anybody in your way” summer teen flick with no redeeming qualities or integrity. The final showdown the parking garage was unbelievable (even more so than Baby’s driving) but not in a good way. Plus it was interminable. I left charged up by the music and stunts but as time has gone on I cannot get over the body count.. Plus the love story was vapid. And, holy wha, the “step-father” character was completely manipulative.

    I read an interested column (by a Black person) that said the driver “should have been Black” but if he were, would the end have happened the way it did? Food for thought.

    I was surprised that you did not comment on the “La La Land” tribute (? — at least that is what I thought of) in the laundromat scene with the pastel clothes in each dryer rotating in synchronized revolution. Cool but odd… and at that point detached the story from any possibility that we are to believe it was anything but a fantasy.

    And Tim, if Wright is “playing us”, are we to be happy about that? It is one thing for the director/screenwriter to mislead us to allow an amazing ending (“The Sixth Sense” comes to mind) but another where he/she just jerks around our expectations to be unique and unpredictable. That shows a cynicism and condescending attitude towards your audience that I do not appreciate. JMHO.

    Looking forward to your podcast of “Dunkirk”!

    • I totally agree about the loss of integrity in the third act. Baby dissolves into the callous mess and, in the end, that’s all we’re left with – no matter how fun and stylish the experience.

      Nice catch on that La La Land reference! That one went right by me. I have no doubt it was intentional considering the movie is a modern day musical in its own way and I’m sure Wright is a fan.

      And way to stick it to Tim on Wright “playing us” – I don’t think that excuse holds water either. But I’m sure Tim will be on here with a defense soon enough. 🙂

  • Timothy Nelson

    I missed that La La Land reference entirely – nice work Doc. The love story here is in very interesting juxtaposition to the LA LA Land one. I’ll have to think more on this.

    I think, like the its historical predecessor, Le Samourai, the ending of Baby Driver, is meant to catch us off guard. I agree that it doesn’t really work. That LA LA Land connection aslo got me thinking. Why does La La land work? It ends with an unfulfilled fantasy of love and happiness too. What is the difference here. I’d appreciate some thoughts on it.

    As for playing us, I think a puzzle is different from a hustle. Sixth Sense, Memento and other films like The Prestige are more a puzzle or riddle. A puzzle makes us stand aback in wonder at the complexity of a film while a hustle makes us feel betrayed and stupid. I felt hustled by the ending.

    Thanks for listening!

    • I think La La Land works because it’s a heartbreaker ending. They both get what they want, but it means nothing because they don’t have each other. Baby Driver ends on a downbeat and then tries to have its cake and eat it too with Baby driving off into the sunset to live happily ever after. It’s too neat and tidy, and doesn’t truly resolve the mess that came before.

      I love your contrast between a puzzle and a hustle!