I was in the need for traditional summertime movie entertainment. I didn't want to stay indoors and watch a movie. I wanted to go out, be in theater and lose myself in something entertaining with a non-complicated or scholarly plot. BABY DRIVER was just what I wanted and, man, does that picture move! It's a crime thriller and chase movie. The car chases in BABY DRIVER reminded me of the ones that made our family cheer when we piled into the car, went to the drive-in and saw Steve McQueen in BULLITT. This hip caper movie has a lead character you care about and, although not a musical, it's shot with the rhythm and sensibilities of one. In the shoot-out scenes, listen to the rhythm of the gunfire. As for the title, the young whiz behind the wheel is called "Baby." He's the getaway driver when a small band of criminals pulls off another robbery. They steal the money. Baby speeds them away.
He's constantly listening to music. We hear what he hears. He mixes words and music. The gang realizes he lives to his own beat and that's cool with them. He's the best getaway driver a crook could have.
But what's his story? He's called into action by a mysterious boss played by Kevin Spacey. Baby's involved in crime but doesn't seem hungry to hurt anyone and he's not greedy to take more money than he's given as a fee.
We get Baby's back story. We watch him meet a waitress and fall in love. Besides the different and totally cool rhythm of BABY DRIVER, director Edgar Wright employs a Vincente Minnelli-like use of red in his movie. Minnelli was a master of musicals at MGM and he loved red. Think of Gigi's Paris residence in his Best Picture of 1958 Oscar winner, GIGI. Look at Minnelli's wonderful musical comedy, THE BAND WAGON, starring Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse.
I loved Wright's use of red. And he had some other nice, original touches. Baby needed and has a foster parent. He had a painful boyhood and white birth parents. His foster father, whom he dearly loves, is elderly and disabled. And black. He communicates via sign language. Baby learned how to sign so he can communicate with his sweet African American foster father. Taking care of him financially drives Baby to accept these robbery assignments.
Will he get out of the fast lane because he's found romantic love? You shall see.
Oscar winner Jamie Foxx co-stars as a greedy hood. Jon Hamm, formerly of TV's MAD MEN is also in this movie and he's very good as a bad guy. In fact, this Edgar Wright film makes you think that if Jon Hamm was around in the Hollywood of the 1950s, 60s or even 70s, he would be a big movie star because Old Hollywood would have utilized his range.
The handsome actor could be moody, dark and intimidating on MAD MEN then, in a heartbeat, he could be hilarious and loopy on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. Back in the day, directors like Vincente Minnelli, Howard Hawks, Billy Wilder, Norman Jewison and Mike Nichols would've been sending Jon Hamm scripts on a regular basis.
The end of BABY DRIVER reminded me of an old Hollywood classic, one that I love watching during the Christmas season. It stars Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray. It's called REMEMBER THE NIGHT (1940).
If you're familiar with this classic that has Stanwyck as a shoplifter who gets arrested during the holidays, think of it when you see BABY DRIVER conclude. Young actor Ansel Elgort does a mighty fine job in Edgar Wright's crime thriller as he takes you on a wild ride as Baby. This stylized movie is the perfect vehicle for him.