Published Mar 01, 2006Every now and then a movie comes along that is obviously bad yet pushes your buttons so skillfully that it seems to actually work. Such is the case of The World's Fastest Indian, which rings all of the irascible old individualist bells while somehow being satisfying to watch.
Anthony Hopkins trades in his British cadences to play New Zealand eccentric Burt Munro, who defied the proverbial odds by taking his modified 1920s Indian motorcycle, raising capital, dragging his machine from Los Angeles to Utah, and breaking a land-speed record in the process.
Nice as it is to see Hopkins playing something other than a stiff upper lip, the film is completely unsurprising in its picaresque depiction of his odyssey. America sure seems strange to the Kiwi greenhorn, filled as it is with helpful transvestites, Native Americans with prostate medicine and, in one woeful scene, a Vietnam vet who's sure that the war will end quickly.
But, like The Shawshank Redemption another movie that was terrible in a brilliant way it has these smooth lines to make its sappy good intentions gleam like chrome. I somehow found myself wondering what saccharine shenanigans he'd get into next, even though it couldn't possibly have been a surprise. In fact, the film is such a non-surprise that it feels like comfort food, or like talking to an old friend who tells the same bad stories but tells them well.
It's not a great movie, but I found myself surprised to find how satisfying it was in the face of everything that was wrong with it. Talk about defying the odds (Alliance Atlantis)