Isn’t it funny how movie posters can be deceiving? After the disappointment that was ‘The Gift’, my movie buddy and I decided to watch something that looked a little bit more fun. We saw the poster for the film ‘Cop Car’ and it looked really good since Kevin Bacon’s lovely face (although covered by a moustache) was all over it. Now after seeing it, I’m reminded of that horror film, ‘Ghost Stories’ which had Martin Freeman plastered all over the marketing material and featured prominently in the trailer and was only in the film for a total screen time of about 20 minutes. It became very clear quite early on that Martin Freeman’s name and notoriety was used to sell the film, a common trick used by independent film producers who manage to hire a well known actor and so use the marketing equivalent of a megaphone to let people know that this famous person is in their low budget movie.
Admittedly, Kevin Bacon has more screen time in ‘Cop Car’ than the example I gave above but (in my opinion), not enough to warrant this poster which would suggest that the film is mostly about him… because it’s not.
In fact, the film is about two young boys, Travis (James Freedson-Jackson) and Harrison (Hays Wellford) who are trekking across a huge field. What I thought was going to happen was that the kids were just going to be in the opening scene and they’d come across a dead body or loads of drugs and that would be used as the introduction of Kevin Bacon’s character. This was quelled when the boys had been onscreen too long for that to be an option.
The actual plot is that these boys discover an abandoned cop car with the keys still inside so they decide it would be a good idea to take it for a joy ride. In a flashback, we see Kevin Bacon’s character, Sheriff Kretzer arrives, removes his gun and the shirt of his uniform before opening the trunk and revealing that there are seemingly two dead bodies in the trunk. He pulls one of the bodies out and buries it in the woods. When he returns, he sees his car is gone and he immediately panics.
Quite a few scenes early on are about the kids being little shits and messing around with the cop car and whilst these children were succeeding in driving a police car, it made me really appreciative of the wondrous thing that is the ‘manual gearbox’. Here in the UK, most emergency service vehicles (police, ambulance etc) have a manual gearbox or ‘driving stick’ as it’s called in America. Basically, it would be very difficult for a child to put the car into gear to make it go forward. With the keys, they may be able to take the handbrake off, but they wouldn’t be able to go anywhere fast. In America, most cars are automatic and I know someone who owns a car with an automatic gearbox and it’s frighteningly easy to drive. It’s so easy that I can do it. And I can’t drive. So, there’s a lesson. Make cars harder to drive so kids can’t steal them. Something to think about, America. I wonder if that was the lesson? Anyway.
The Sheriff is obviously the bad guy but his sheer level of involvement isn’t spoken out loud. He manages to run back to his house and of course he’s upset and paranoid that he’s going to be found out and so some ‘showing without telling’ commences where he tries to dump his cocaine down the toilet and breaks out a bag of emergency money and fake documents so he can escape but then he’s contacted by the boys on his radio.
We all know that kids are stupid and really shouldn’t be allowed a lot of items that can be found in an American police car. Heavy assault rifles are on that list and for very good reason because one worrying scene transition shows Travis pointing an assault rifle at Harrison who is clumsily wearing a bulletproof vest. Now, I’m not American. From the appearance of the surroundings, the trailer parks, the pick-up truck that the Sheriff owns and the really funny Southern accent that Kevin Bacon is sporting, I’m guessing that this film takes place somewhere in the South where they have something of a reputation for loving their guns. How to these children not know, even through passing, about the ‘safety’ feature on a gun and also the fact that especially for a child, taking a round from a weapon like that at close range to the chest, even with a bulletproof vest on would cause serious internal bleeding, if not kill him outright… and that’s assuming Travis hits him in the vest. Regardless, the safety is on and no one gets shot… yet.
I live in the UK where we really don’t have almost immediate access to guns at any one time so I can’t comment on what this film is trying to say with this scene. Kids are dumb? We know this. We need to educate kids about guns? Maybe. Gearboxes, we’ve covered.
Naturally, they find the man in the trunk and naturally, he’s a bad guy to. He uses the kids to contact the Sheriff and lure him to their location so he can kill the Sheriff and take back his drugs and/or money.
Apart from Kevin Bacon, the only other person in the cast that I recognised was Camryn Manheim and I only found out where I know her from whilst researching for this piece. She was the trooper in ‘Scary Movie 3’ who is alongside Charlie Sheen’s parody of Mel Gibson’s character in ‘Signs’. That was a good movie. Almost on par with the Wayans brothers movies but I’m biased because Leslie Nielson was in Scary Movie 3 and 4 so I love those movies regardless. Where was I?
The ending should be fairly self-explanatory, if not hilarious because of course the kids aren’t going to shoot Kevin Bacon or the other guy and so the two bad guys shoot each other and Kevin Bacon’s fall was very funny but what happens after is even funnier.
You see, the kids are stuck in the backseat of the police car with no way out and they think it will be a brilliant idea to shoot out the window in the handgun that Harrison hid. When they can’t fire it (because the safety’s on), they decide to smash the window with the butt of the gun which is a better idea but they fail at that to. When they manage to figure out how the safety works and after they blow their own eardrums, they manage to shoot through the window but Travis is struck by one of the ricochets. As Harrison desperately drives Travis to the nearest town but they are pursued by the badly wounded Sheriff. It’s all very menacing until he crashes into a cow. Then it’s hilarious again.
The film ends very ambiguously with the audience not knowing what happened to Harrison or the wounded Travis.
All in all, definitely better than ‘The Gift’. The both take ages for anything to happen but at least the stuff ends up happening in ‘Cop Car’.
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