Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Movies about Motorsports

While I no longer follow NASCAR or other forms of racing anymore, I still long to watch, learn about, and revel in the world of Motorsports.  Over the years Hollywood has flung out some interesting, serious, laughable, and forgettable movies set against the backdrop of Motorsports racing. Good or bad, realistic or far-fetched, racing movies are a fun part of fandom!

The Last American Hero – A film about NASCAR legend and Hall of Fame member Junior Johnson in his early years.  With the tagline, “It took him 20 years to find out who he was and 2 laps to let the world know,” this movie personified the American dream. Starring Jeff Bridges as Junior Johnson and with locations that lent authentication to the piece, The Last American Hero is a slice of NASCAR history brought to life in an artful and refreshing way.

 Grand Prix - This epic story is lush with state-of-the-art cinematography, jaw-dropping race scenes, interesting characters, several compelling storylines, and, if I haven't mentioned it enough, fantastic racing scenes! James Garner is bonus here as he is cool personified. The movie dates to 1966 but has topical and timeless subject matter in the world of racing.

Greased Lightning – Loosely depicting the life of black NASCAR driver Wendell Scott, the film shows the history of post World War II atmosphere that led to Scott’s evolution from taxi cab driver to moonshine runner in Virginia to stock car champion. Richard Pryor stared in this serious film role that showcased his fine acting chops. Beau Bridges co-starred.

Stroker Ace- Fictitious Stroker Ace, played by the incomparable Burt Reynolds, has little respect for the business side of NASCAR preferring to leave it all out on the racetrack. When a string of events leads to Stroker losing his sponsor, he and his team need to hustle up a new one. A hilarious and raucous storyline continues. Most notable are the actual NASCAR cameos featured in the film as well as race tracks for location shots. If watched simply for mindless fun and for spotting NASCAR faces like Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty, Tim Richmond and scores more, Stroker Ace is a good choice.

Six Pack – Kenny Rogers, pre-face lift and during his enormously popular singing career, took a turn as a struggling NASCAR driver who, due to circumstances, winds up with a van full of kids in his charge. Not a bright spot for NASCAR films, but to see Kenny Rogers and Diane Lane it’s worth a couple of mindless hours.

Days of Thunder – Tom Cruise starring as Tom Cruise, I mean starring as Cole Trickle. 1980s flash, Robert Duvall’s crustiness and Randy Quaid as the antithesis of the character he made famous in the Vacation movies, tried to make this one a winner, but the crazy schedule for NASCAR and the preposterous storyline are so bad it’s like watching drivel. Of course, it’s Tom Cruise and NASCAR so as bad as it is it is still so watchable!

Pixar’s Cars Movies – An animated story with heart, lush scenery, well-developed plot, and a host of stars makes this modern flick an instant classic. Not necessary to see just with the kids, this film, and its sequels, are the best of all. Don’t walk, run to put this on your “must own” list of NASCAR movies. I'm also a fan of Cars Movie 2 and 3. The second one brings in the open wheel crowd and the international scene tied in with a spy ring. The third movie that came out this summer takes Cars Movie back not only to its NASCAR roots, but also to its history. Look for heavy hitters in the Motorsports world in all three movies as cameos.

Turbo - What Cars Movie did for NASCAR, Turbo was supposed to do for IndyCar. Unfortunately, it fell short. But, it's a cute movie with some decent characters and an okay storyline. You have to suspend belief for this one a lot, but it's still worth seeing just so you can say, "I saw it." The bonus is a pre-Deadpool Ryan Reynolds.

Rush - A fascinating, fast-paced, sexy, and stressful look at a short period in Formula One's history when James Hunt battled Niki Lauda. If you watch Formula One  then you know how this one ends, but seeing it played out is worth your time! Great racing scenes, a look back on the tremendous risks racecar drivers took back in the day (and today), and an all-around terrific film. Ron Howard directed, Chris Hemsworth (Thor) starred as Hunt and Daniel Brühl starred as Lauda and was simply brilliant.

Hollywood hasn’t always done a bang up job on offering high caliber NASCAR-based and racing movies. But the fact that racing movies exist at all, are a part of film history, and even include real NASCAR and racing personalities from different eras is another reason to check out this slew of movies.

1 comment:

  1. I have yet to watch a movie made by Hollywood that tries to copy, match, or offer entertainment unless you consider the cartoons wth NASCAR drivers as voices. This article points out and Candice offers much more enjoyable input on the movies. Thank you Candice