In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_mv5bmtq1mze4mte3of5bml5banbnxkftztgwotcyndm3nte_._v1__sx1216_sy640_

Amy

Sometimes, it feels as if we are eavesdropping on day-to-day conversations rather than just hearing the usual litany of platitudes and regrets.

Thumb_large_nxcfdsanskih09xq74fjnyhw4g0

Stray Dog

"Stray Dog" largely succeeds because Granik's technique complements her subject. Both he and the film are modest in their goals and cherish the value of…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives

Reviews

The Gumball Rally

  |  

The most obvious difference between two current movies, "The Gumball Rally" and "Cannonball," is that the first is about an illegal road race from New York to California, and the second is about an illegal road race from California to New York. If the two movies had gotten into a terrific collision somewhere in Missouri...but never mind, never mind.

There's another difference, too, and it's a relief: "'The Gumball Rally" is good-spirited and fun. "Cannonball" was an exercise in highway sadism.

Both movies have all the standard ingredients, however: Two laconic leading men, two all-girl teams, one ethnic driver, one dumb law enforcement officer, several exploding gas tanks, no end of incompetent highway patrolmen, a helicopter and a car that breaks in half. The movies are so similar in content, in fact, that the differences between them are instructive: "The Gumball Rally" is an easily forgettable entertainment, but at least it has a certain amount of class. "Cannonball" was straight exploitation.

An example. In "Cannonball," the German's speedometer hits 165 m.p.h. and a concealed bomb blows up his car. In another scene, drivers die horribly in flaming wreckage. In still another, a marksman with a high-powered rifle (these guys don't mess around) is pinned under his car and crushed to death.

And what did the Motion Picture Code and Ratings Administration assign to all of this? The PG rating.

In "The Gumball Rally," on the other hand, there's an attempt to neutralize the violence with comedy. When a camper van runs into a fireworks store, for example, the three people in the van dive for safety and wind up in a neat little row on the ground before the fireworks go off. When the mad Hungarian motorcyclist goes up a ramp and through a billboard, he lands safely - and the billboard advises travel by, train. These aren't exactly terrific sight gags, but at least they're not horrifying to younger audiences. So, what was the rating? Exactly the same - PG. Humor and taste must not be programmed into the MPAA's criteria.

"Return of a Man Called Horse," reviewed Thursday, ALSO got a PG rating, despite a scene lasting at least 20 minutes in which characters had their pectoral muscles pierced by eagle's talons and were then suspended by their chests. All the PG means I guess, is that there aren't any naked ladies . . .

But let's not get started on ratings. What I meant to say, before interrupting myself, is that although we are all going to have the greatest difficulty even remembering the name of "The Gumball Rally" in three months' time, it is a pleasant, slick, inoffensive entertainment. It contains some difficult and well-coordinated stunt driving. It has a fairly good cast. And it never makes you want to flee the theater.

Popular Blog Posts

Why Can't Sad Be Fat?

A rebuttal to Joni Edelman's piece on "Inside Out."

The Unloved, Part 19: "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"

The July 2015 edition of The Unloved looks at Andrew Dominik's "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert...

Sex Symbol Without Auteur: The Strange Case of the Gina Lollobrigida Filmography

Three films starring Gina Lollobrigida have been released on Blu-ray; Glenn Kenny looks at them and her entire career.

“Scream” and “Zoo” Seek to Raise the Summer TV Body Count

MTV's Scream and CBS's Zoo premiere tonight. One is worth your time. Which one?

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus