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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Cop Car

There's an interesting trend in Hollywood to hand over mega-budget films, usually of the comic book variety, to directors who have previously only made low budget independent films. This has worked--see Patty Jenkins with Wonder Woman--but has also failed spectacularly, as with Josh Trank and a reboot of Fantastic Four. I see that Trank is attached to another film, but certainly will never be given the keys to Dad's car again.

The recent Spider-Man: Homecoming was directed by Jon Watts, who had two minuscule films under his belt: a horror moved called Clown (which I hope to see soon) and Cop Car, a nifty little western noir. Cop Car is a very good small film, and I have to give credit to whomever at Sony or Columbia thought Watts would be able to handle the reboot of Marvel's greatest property.

Cop Car is about two boys, about ten or eleven, who have run away from home. They are in the middle of nowhere (I suspect it's Texas, but it's somewhere in the plains) when they find a sheriff's cruiser. It is empty. And in the logic that only ten-year-old boys could have, once they find the keys they take it for a joy ride.

Turns out the car belongs to the Sheriff, Kevin Bacon, who was busy burying a body he had in the trunk. He comes back to find his car gone, and he does some quick thinking to try to get his car back without anyone else in the force knowing about it, because I imagine he would have a lot of explaining to do.

What's great about Cop Car is what the movie doesn't tell us, such as why the boys are running away (just a few clues), and why Bacon killed the man. There will be a further surprise in the trunk that the boys find to ratchet up the film a few degrees, and this only makes the film more wacky and pleasurable.

Bacon, one of our consummate unsung actors, is terrific as a guy caught between a rock and a hard place. He sports a great porn-stache and you can always see him thinking, but nothing he does is predictable. It was written by Watts and Christopher Ford.

The actors playing the two boys are very good, and seem like typical boys (the movie begins with them thinking of all the swear words they and eating a Slim Jim). They are James Freedson-Jackson as the more adventurous of the two, and Hays Wellford as the follower.

I think, when it comes to it, that studios want directors who can tell stories. The special effects and CGI and all that other stuff can be handled by other people. Just tell a good story. Cop Car is a great story.

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