Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Days Of Thunder (1990)




Note: the very first film I wrote a bullshit review for...

You may have heard that Days Of Thunder is pretty much Top Gun but with a NASCAR paintjob. And you’d be right. It’s all there -- Tom Cruise is a cocky stud with a drive to be the best; his love interest is an uptight professional older woman who needs his cock; his coach/instructor is a father-figure substitute for a missing father; there is a competitive rival but they turn out to be friends through begrudging respect, etc. And it’s produced by Bruckheimer/Simpson and has their trademark orange-sunrise polished aesthetic to all of the images. And it’s total bullshit. Just check out the characters’ names – Tom Cruise as Cole Trickle (!), Robert Duvall as Harry Hogge (!), Michael Rooker as Rowdy Burns (!), Cary Elwes as Russ Wheeler (!!!). You know just by those ridiculous action-figure names, that this movie will be a bullshit treat.

Days Of Thunder was one of those movies that my parents taped on video when I was a kid, and because I didn’t know any better, I just re-watched it again and again on the family VCR. Re-watching it now, I was struck by how vacuous it was. There is not a lot to it besides your usual Climb-From-Despair-Into-Victory sports movie formula. First, Cruise becomes a NASCAR racer. Then he wins. Then he crashes. Then he meets Nicole Kidman as the love interest. Then they fuck. A to B. B to C. It takes about twenty minutes before you even know Nicole’s first name (it’s Claire). But then is anyone surprised that Days Of Thunder would be a shallow movie? There are a ton of great bullshit moments. Cruise’s introduction hero-shot, riding through track-field smoke on a big motorcycle with his shades on - hilarious. Duvall, obviously taking a paycheck, being a salt-of-the-earth hillbilly who wears a different trucker’s cap in every scene and is so Southern that he only drinks moonshine from a jar - pretty funny. Cary Elwes as the Vanilla Ice-looking real bad guy racer with his constant smug look and gum-chewing - priceless. Nicole Kidman’s big speech to Cruise where he calls him an "infantile ego-maniac" and says that everybody in the world but him knows that "control is only an illusion" (really? Thanks, Nicole!) - classic.

But the whole reason for the movie’s existence is one great scene where after his first win, Cruise’s track-team pull a prank on him. When his tour van gets pulled over by the highway patrol, this real sexy blonde female cop pushes him against the side of the van and asks him to spread his legs. Then there is BULLSHIT low-angle shot of Tom Cruise’s crotch as the female cop frisks him, and it fucking looks like he has a banana stuffed down his tight jeans. Anyway, the female cop says that it looks like he is carrying a concealed weapon, and asks suggestively, "But does he know how to use it?" She takes off her hat, pops open her top, and it’s revealed she’s a stripper! Just part of a big ole boy's own prank on the Cruise Missile who smiles and takes her in his arms and plants her a big kiss. But the whole point of the movie is in that low-angle shot of his crotch, which effectively states for the record that Tom Cruise has a big cock. This is important, because it helps him bed Nicole Kidman as the "brain doctor" who treats him and helps him win Daytona at the end.

So check Days of Thunder if you want to see some fast cars, a good actor like Duvall coasting, Nicole still with an Aussie accent and a crimped perm, and of course, Tom Cruise playing the cocky, competitive, egotistic stud (y’know, the one he played in Colour of Money, Cocktail, Top Gun, Rainman, etc), but this time in a white-trash hick sport known as stock-car racing. Get the need for speed and feel Tom’s big-cocked thunder, people!

Memorable Quote:
DR. CLAIRE: "Tell me what you love so much about racing."
COLE TRICKLE: "Speed. To be able to control it. To know that I can control
something that's out of control."

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