Home » The Kid, And The Car, Stays In The Picture: Cold Start

The Kid, And The Car, Stays In The Picture: Cold Start

Risky Business Cs
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Whether it’s, say, George Clooney as Batman or Keanu Reeves in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, you can see numerous times where directors and producers probably should have chosen a different individual for the role. However, I don’t care about that: I want to talk about automotive miscasting. As a car guy, it always bothers me when the cars that make more prominent appearances in films appear to be just flat out wrong. I’m not alone, am I?

The image above is from the 1983 film Risky Business, the movie that essentially put Tom Cruise on the map. As the parents of Tom’s character (Joel) get ready to leave town for a trip, he is told not to drive his dad’s Porsche and instead use his mother’s car. He does just that, but only after the 928 ends up in Lake Michigan.

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Look at the other vehicle in Joel’s garage, the one he’s filling below. The “mom’s car” appears to be a 1978 Chevy Impala wagon:

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Really?  Joel’s address is a Highland Park house (erroneously stated as Glencoe in the movie) which would currently sell for around $1.4 million; there is no way that Joel’s dad would drive a $40,000 coupe and his mom be content to run a five year old model of the cheapest big Chevy wagon. Did the people sourcing cars never hear about a w123 300TD or a 245DL Volvo? What about a wood clad Wagoneer Limited (what they called the Grand Wagoneer then), Buick Electra Estate or Mercury Colony Park? Maybe an Audi 5000 like the one in the Lee Klinger Porsche/Audi showroom where the service manager famously asks “Who’s the U-Boat commander?”

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As an Autopian, you’ll see countless examples of this miscasting. In the movie La La Land, the main character is this hipster musician guy that seems to fashion himself as some kind of Rat Pack era jazz impresario.  The car the filmmakers chose for his character was a Buick Riviera. Did they get him a cool, beat-up one with the rotating headlight doors like Dalton’s in Road House or the Riv Mr. Spock is famously pictured with? That would make sense, right?

No, Ryan Gossling’s character drives a 1982 ASC-chopped Riviera convertible, probably the second least desirable Riv ever (next to the dinky 1986 model) and one associated with Florida retirees, NOT jazz cats. Maybe the uneducated people choosing it for the film thought “forty year old convertible” naturally means “cool vintage car.” But a malaise Riv with fake wire wheel covers is still Uncle Semour’s ride: woefully unhip.

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The French Connection had a Lincoln Mark III inexplicably plying the narrow streets of France. Dope car (literally) that it is, such a character in early seventies Europe would far more likely be driving something like a Mercedes W111 coupe or Jaguar XJ-C.

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Why does Diana Rigg’s character in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service drive, of all things, a Cougar convertible in Europe in the winter? I mean, it’s pretty damn cool but as totally out of place as the AMCs in Thailand seen in The Man With The Golden Gun.

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At least the 928 was perfectly cast in Risky Business, a car often associated with orthodontists in period and an ideal car for Joel’s rather stuffy, humorless executive-level Princeton alumni father with a distaste for a preponderance of bass:

 

One of the cars from the film that didn’t go into the drink sold for just under $2 million, and while this underappreciated Porsche is finally gaining value it would appear that figure is about $1.98 million higher than a similar 928 that Tom Cruise did not learn how to drive stick on. Still, it’s proof that filmmakers occasionally get it right.

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Barrett-Jackson, screenshots

Rest assured, movie producers: you can’t escape. Autopians are watching you.

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Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
4 months ago

I have said here before how one of the biggest whiffs I’ve ever seen in car casting comes from an otherwise great movie, “Big Fish.” You mean to tell me that the title character, who always speaks in fish- and water-related puns and figures of speech, is depicted as a traveling salesman who drives a fastback 1960s muscle car, that ISN’T a Plymouth Barracuda or an AMC Marlin? What’s worse, why he is shown sleeping in the back of his Charger in one scene, when the Barracuda actually has more room for that?
https://www.theautopian.com/the-plymouth-barracuda-had-a-surprisingly-clever-trunk-setup-cold-start/

Ninefeet
Ninefeet
4 months ago

Maybe not the right place but while on the movie rubrique… why is it impossible to movie maker to give bikes the right sound ???? So many 2 stroke engine screams or thumper like beat on a four cylinders. No example in mind but it bother me every time. Thank you for listen to my complain, I feel lonely.

Rock Burner
Rock Burner
4 months ago
Reply to  Ninefeet

I hear your pain.
Most sound-effect guys have probably never seen a motorcycle, and the director just wants it to sound “cool”

Mr. Fusion
Mr. Fusion
4 months ago

It’s not really fair to hold James Bond movies to this standard, since product placement is de rigeur for that series. Bond will drive or wear whatever is sponsoring the movie. Look how many years he wore Seiko watches and drank Bollinger champagne (when he wasn’t downing vodka martinis).

Auto companies can also work against movie productions. In the 2004 Thunderbirds movie, people were apoplectic that Lady Penelope was driving a Ford Thunderbird (despite the clever tie-in) instead of her iconic Rolls Royce. But Rolls had actually denied the use of their cars and trademark to the production. The director (Jonathan Frakes) said that they begged Rolls for months and were willing to make any concession, but Rolls flat-out refused. On the other hand, Ford stepped up and said, “Whatever we can do to help.”

Last edited 4 months ago by Mr. Fusion
Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
4 months ago

I occasionally detour to go through the drag race train viaduct in Highland Park. It’s silly, but still fun.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
4 months ago

I am a simple woman. I see 928, I click.

Ron888
Ron888
4 months ago

I find it strangely satisfying that you’re criticizing car choices in movies. If we put in a collective effort i bet we could fix so many movies

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
4 months ago

I’ve mentioned this before. I had a wealthy girlfriend who’s father drove a sweet stick 735i, while his wife drove a POS Dodge Omni. Why? Because she was a terrible driver who parked by feel. My girlfriend was a good driver, so she got a classic Benz for her 16th BD. Mom kept driving the Omni. Everyone just seemed to understand that’s the way it was.

Last edited 4 months ago by Crank Shaft
Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
4 months ago
Reply to  Crank Shaft

As opposed to my high school girlfriend, whose widower engineer father’s multi-car garage included:

– The Corvair Monza her late mom drove in college (non-operational, but cool)
– The 1980-something Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham her dad bought her mom one Valentine’s Day
– The 1986 Buick Electra wagon that had been her mom’s daily upon her death
– A goddamn 1968 Corvette L71 427/4 speed in LeMans Blue, just SITTING there

So what did Dad drive? Company truck.

Worse, what did he make my girlfriend drive? Mom’s previous daily before the Buick: a 1974 Chrysler New Yorker station wagon, which got about 8 miles to the gallon on days it would actually agree to drive her anywhere, which were few and far between.

I never understood it. Here’s a guy who was making six figures a year in 1990 dollars, sticking his only daughter with the shittiest car in a six car garage.

Argentine Utop
Argentine Utop
4 months ago

I wrote a piece on the car casting of the movie “Argentina, 1985”. The title gives you the place and time coordinates. Some good choices, some utterly bad.
Anyone wants to read it?

Drew Steen
Drew Steen
4 months ago
Reply to  Argentine Utop

Obviously!

Spence
Spence
4 months ago

I thought the point of the French Connection car was that it was to be shipped to America. But that aside, having recently spent some time in Marseille, I can absolutely see a local hood wheeling an American land yacht as an anti-social statement of excess. Assholes in Europe love big American iron (and Gosling’s character is exactly the kind of guy who would have thought that Riv was hip).

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