Friday, December 11, 2009

"Bike" Movie Recommendations

Are you trying to find a unique gift for the cyclist in your life? Or are you, perhaps, holed up in your hovel, waiting for weather to break so you can get out on your bike again? In either case, here are three of my favorite movies that have a "bicycle theme."

Pee-Wee's Big Adventure

I hope you've already seen it. I was mesmerized by it in the movie theater, and every viewing since has been enjoyable.

The plot, in a nutshell: "Ageless child-man" Pee-Wee Herman is living his idyllic life in his child's-fondest-dream home, making trips to the magic store, the bike shop, etc., on his classic pimped-out cruiser bike. But alas - the bike is stolen! Innocence lost! Pee-Wee embarks on a road-trip detective quest to bring the bike home. Classic happy ending.

Directed by the inimitable Tim Burton. Sight gags and hilarious dialogue at every turn. Music by Danny Elfman ("The Simpsons").

Totally suitable for all ages.

Breaking Away

I hope you've already seen it.

The plot, in a nutshell: Local kids in Bloomington, Indiana, have just graduated from high school, and are trying to decide what to do with their lives. They've been best of friends, and are trying to keep the posse together, despite their paths which seem to be going in different directions. Dave is totally engrossed in European-style cycling, from posters of his racing idols, to speaking with a faux-Italian accent, to shaving his legs. Because they are locals, they are spurned by the college kids, who dismiss them as "cutters." (A mainstay of the local economy is stone-cutting, on account of the limestone quarries.) The conflict between the "cutters" and the imported college boys escalates, and ultimately a judge orders them to settle their differences on the bike-racing track. Which is fine... except three of the four are totally incompetent as cyclists. Yet, they rise to the occasion.

Simple but engrossing story, fine acting, particularly by Paul Dooley, who plays Dave's stressed-out car-salesman dad.

Suitable for all ages.

The Triplets of Belleville

(I had not seen this until perhaps two months ago. My daughter recommended it and I love it!)

This is a full-length cartoon, but it's not Disney. It's in French, but it really doesn't matter; there's very little dialogue and the images tell the story nicely.

The plot, in a nutshell: "Champion" is a young boy being raised by his doting grandma. She's concerned because he seems totally bored with life... until she finds it hidden under his mattress. "It" is Champion's scrapbook of bike-racing heroes. So, she does what any doting grandma would do - begins training him to be a bike-racing great. During a bike race, he is kidnapped by some mysterious mafia-types, who enslave him in their bike-race gambling operation. (He and others ride stationary bikes, which are attached to an elaborate "virtual bike race" contraption.) Grandma follows the clues, and crosses paths with the Triplets of Belleville. Generations earlier, the "Triplets" had been the "French Andrews Sisters," but have settled into a life of obscurity and poverty. The four feisty old gals rescue Champion... Yea! Another happy ending.

Rated PG-13, and strangely, the cartoon is the one that might not be suitable for all ages. Young children might be disturbed by some rather grotesque (in a comical sort of way) imagery. (Frog stew!)

1 comment:

Marrock said...

I love "Triplets", I managed to find it online a while ago if anyone wants to see it: