The Netflix sleeve for this movie describes the plot of this movie thusly: “This definitive American road movie tells the story of two drivers who battle across the back roads for possession of each other’s pink slips and the affections of a mysterious young hitchhiker.” To get to the second part first: the hitchhiker goes back and forth between both of their cars every time they pull off the road and doesn’t seem to care for either of them. Also: the driver played by James Taylor is so intent on looking like a stoic mystery man that he barely acknowledges her, so whatever battle they have is relatively low key.
As far as the cross-country race goes, they keep meeting up at diners and talking, and they meet by the side of the road, and at one point the mechanic from Chevy repairs the GTO while it’s driver is passed out from drinking too much. It gets so friendly that when the driver of the GTO sees the Chevy parked in front of a hamburger joint he comes in and immediately asks “I’d just like to know one thing: are we still racing or what?”
Now, the Netflix sleeve description of a movie is often wrong. A lot of the times they describe the events of a movie without being able to capture the film’s tone. But “are we still racing or what?” really encapsulates this film’s tone and explains why it was such a tedious film. I cannot imagine a circumstance in which someone in the Maltese Falcon would ask “hey, we all still want this bird, right?” Or where a ghost would ask the Ghostbusters: “You still plan on busting us, correct?” There’s something galling about a film that’s so laid back that no one in the movie knows if they care enough to actually bother doing anything that would lead to the movie having a plot.
Winner: The Cat