Baby Driver: This Summer’s Must-See Comedy-Thriller

Despite all the promise this summer had at the box office, few of the potentially great movies released so far have lived up to their promise.  In fact, most have been downright awful.  So far we’ve gotten the worst-received Transformers movie to date, a profoundly uncomfortable Mummy remake and the most tiresome Pirates of the Caribbean sequel in a decade.  If it wasn’t for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Wonder Woman, I’d write the entire season off as a complete wash.

It turns out that Summer 2017 still has some life left in it, however.  The early word on Spider-Man: Homecoming is that it’s the best movie of its kind since Logan, and then, of course, there’s Baby Driver.

If you’ve seen a trailer for Baby Driver — although, if you haven’t, I can hardly blame you — you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into.  It’s master-minded by Edgar Wright — the mad genius that gave us Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End — and feature’s one of the summer’s most high-profile acting ensembles.

There’s a kid named “Baby.”  He’s a getaway driver.  Singed, sealed and delivered as promised.

And yet, there’s more to Baby Driver that just a heist movie.  You see, Baby’s a good kid: maybe a little rough around the edges, but he means well and tries to do his best.  After his parents died in a car accident — an accident that leaves him with tinnitus, which he constantly drowns out with music — he gets raised by a kindly old man trying desperately to help the kid turn his life around.  He starts boosting cars, picks up the wrong one and ends up knee-deep in mob debt, which he has slowly paid back by getaway driving for them ever since.

He’s warned, however, that despite now being in the clear financially, he’s gotten into some bad company, and refusing to do a job for them could mean his life.  He falls for a sweet-voiced waitress with a similar taste in music and tries going straight anyway, only to be sucked back in for one final job before he can make for the coast and never look back.

It’s a straight-forward pitch: Drive, but with ‘Awesome Mix Vol. 1” playing in the background.  Either that, or it’s the Millennial’s answer to Bonnie and Clyde.  No matter what it’s compared to, though, Baby Driver measures favorably against its esteemed competition.

As you might have guessed from the above comparison, Baby Driver‘s soundtrack is exquisite: easily one of the best ever put to film.  It runs the gamut of decades and styles, cranking out anything and everything so long as it plays well and fits with the scene in question.  At one point, Baby even restarts the song he’s playing for a robbery he’s working because they took too long getting out of the car and it needs to match up with what they’re doing on screen.

My favorite thing about it, though, is that we only ever hear the music when Baby hears it.  He always seems to have his earbuds in, so there’s always a constant stream of greatest hits looped in the background.  But when somebody pulls them out, or they fall off, we continue to hear what Baby hears: not groovy tunes, but his tinnitus — an oppressive ringing that swallows the action whole.

Although the romance between Baby and Debora does fall a bit flatter than one would hope for a creative team this talent behind it, their relationship was never intended to be the focus of the film.  This is Baby’s film, and that’s just one of several things that happens to Baby.  It drives some of the plot and characters home, and is more utilitarian than anything else, but all the pieces are there and everything works the way it needs to.

To that end, the one thing that we do actually care about — Baby — is as endearing as anything ever filmed before.  He’s a genuinely nice guy who takes care of his now-disable foster father, treats his girlfriend to fancy meals he can’t possibly afford and saves all of the money his mobster boss allows him to keep after a heist.  His taste in music is sublime and it’s impossible to not love him moving and grooving down the street to tunes only he can hear.

If there’s one movie you’re going to see this summer, absolutely make it Baby Driver.  It’s as fiercely original and infectiously fun as movies this time of year get, made by a true master of the craft at the top of his game.  It’s a honest-to-God must-see.

Rating:  5/5

Buy on BluRay:  The Second It Comes Out

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