Used Cars: The Experience Is Everything

When we finally settled on Robert Zemeckis being the first port of call for this crazy adventure, I sat down and looked over his filmography. It’s really easy to look at all his work and be excited for the big guns like Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit or Forrest Gump. But where I really thought that I’d find challenges when it comes to watchability, and even further to that having something to talk about, would probably be the initial couple of films.

Historically, film makers don’t drop an amazing pieces of work on their first go. Even Spielberg had Duel and Sugarland Express before Jaws. Is this me saying that both those films are duds? Of course not! That being said, there are occasional exceptions. One could argue A Quiet Place from John Krasinski as an amazing first film but I can’t help think that it is an anomaly. I guess what I’m saying though is, to expect Zemeckis’s first films to not be his strongest offerings is a reasonably fair expectation. We all need to grow and for film makers that growth is played out on screen. We the viewer, rejoice as we witness their triumphs, especially when we think we’ve seen the best from that film maker already.  

As you’ve now listened to (or if you’ve found yourself here at our humble website by mere accident), we’ve watched Zemeckis’s first two films, I Wanna Hold Your Hand and Used Cars, and let’s be honest we’ve had one heck of a fun time discussing them! Over the last few days, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about Used Cars. My feelings toward the film still hasn’t changed, it’s not my favourite Zemeckis film, but what has been interesting about the days following recording the podcast is that when I do think about the film, I smile. Not just a little smirk, but a full on teeth showing grin.

The experience of discussing the film has been such a fun time, and crazily it’s just as fun listening back to the episode. It actually makes me think nothing but good things towards a film I didn’t really enjoy while watching. But isn’t this the amazing thing about life? A lot of the time, even when not relating to films, the experience is just as (and sometimes more) important as the event itself.

My wife and I have these great friends who together we plan surprise adventures for each other. The idea is simple, we’re given a date which we keep free and on that day anything could happen. Some days we go for a fancy meal, sometimes it’s a movie in Gold Class and on this occasion it was on for the history books. We had no idea what we were in for but soon we found ourselves eating an Indian banquet, which was delicious (a huge shout out to Non-Sponsor Zafran Indian Restaurant, Newcastle). As the meal progressed our friend advised we needed to get going as we had a show to attend. We arrived to Newcastle’s iconic Civic Theatre and were rushed through to our seats at such a pace we still had no idea what we were there for. As we sat in our seats a few rows from the front of the theatre my wife turned to me and said “There’s a lot of grey haired people around us… I’m not sure if that’s a good thing!”

What unfolded is the stuff of legend. The show was called Celtic Illusion and it was as if a massive fan of both the magician David Copperfield and Lord of the Dance Michael Flatley decided that the world was missing a combination of the two disciplines. On paper the idea of an Irish Dancing Magician seems intriguing enough that it should work. It did not. Now I don’t have any knowledge of dancing as an art form so I was really scared to ask my wife and friends, but I couldn’t help but ask “Am I supposed to be finding this hilarious? Am I allowed to laugh?” The show wasn’t intended to be comedic but that made it so much better. There’s no way of saying it lightly, it was terrible but the experience of the evening was such that it will remain one of my cherished memories with my wife and friends. You see, sometimes the experience itself enhances what should by rights be a terrible evening and what’s even more amazing is that the same reasoning applies to great things too.  

If you ever saw John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place in cinema, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. The film itself is a great piece of work from a first time director but the experience in a full cinema enhanced it to be seen by myself as an amazing film! The usage of sound in the film creates a tension that in a full cinema was amplified. Having such a silent, tense film meant that every noise in cinema was heard. As the tension built, no one wanted to make a sound and all that could be heard was the creaking of chairs as people uncomfortably shifted their weight to ease their own tension. It was incredible and made people engage further with the film. It’s honestly been one of the best and most memorable cinematic experiences that I’ve had in such a long time. The experience itself took something really, really good but made it great!  

This brings me to Used Cars. I’ll be straight and let you know; I didn’t enjoy Used Cars. It was one of those films where I can see that Robert Zemeckis is trying something totally different to his previous effort but it felt too mean. Perhaps as we work our way through his work I’ll see parallels between Used Cars and other films but right now, two films in. It just doesn’t hit for me.

What is both somewhat cool and somewhat confusing for me is after recording our episode on Used Cars, and the next day listening back, I can’t help but think of the film with much softer memories. It’s no longer the mean spirited and confusing film that I thought it was while watching the film. In actual fact, I feel that in time Used Cars will have nothing but fond memories attached to it. Why? Because Craig and I had such an amazingly fun time recording the episode. Even now while typing this I’m smiling like an absolute fool.

Isn’t that what’s so special about film? The moments we experience and the people we share them with, make them just as special, if not more so than the actual film itself. Really, it’s the reason why we do this podcast and I can’t wait for all the experiences to come as this season progresses.

Big Love, Yeah!