Down and Derby (2005) Poster

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A Child's View of Adult Silliness - Good Clean Fun
Sid Unrau21 April 2005
I had read nothing but negative reviews of this movie. I went with a friend out of sheer boredom, and we were both laughing our heads off the whole time. He and I had both been boy scouts and had both had our share of pinewood derby experiences... perhaps that added to our glee.

I think the critics missed the mark because they are adults looking from an adult perspective, but this movie is from kid perspective; nothing adult about it.

The movie is a caricature about family relationships, midlife crises, childhood rivalry carried into adulthood, unexpected triumphs, and unexpected defeats. It is truly good clean fun - no cusswords, no sex, nothing but silly antics. The kids acted like kids and the adults acted like kids, just as one would expect from a kid's perspective.

This is no epic - it is completely silly. But it is fun, funny, entertaining, and family friendly. THANKS, Hollywood, for the rare non-offensive to anyone (that I can imagine) movie.
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Great family movie
Brian Maguire17 January 2006
This is a great movie for the family of all ages. The movie is funny and well acted. It is also professionally written and directed. If you are a scouting family or were a scout yourself this movie will appeal to you for sure. Even if you are not a scouting family the comedy of trying to do a father-son project is something we all can relate to. Actually I learned something from this movie and will be letting my son do a bit more of the work on 'his' pine wood derby car! Besides, I have my own car to build now. The movie is a fathers desire to build a winning car and relive his childhood while trying to let his son live his own. Check out this movie if you can and we'll see you at the races!
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Well worth seeing. For anyone involved in Pinewood Derby Races, it will bring back memories.
Saturndriver8 June 2005
This movies was one of the great movies about scouting that has come out in a long time. It was clean, funny, and can be related to by all levels of scouts and adults alike. Observant scouts and adult leaders will recognize the approximate 4 to 5 errors in the film dealing with the uniforms. Overlook those errors and you have a great family movie. You may choose to show the movie to your district or council. In that case, use the movie as a test to see who is paying attention to find those errors and give a prize the scout with the most errors found. I was heartbroken to see that it was in the theaters for only one week. Maybe if it was released it in January in time for the Pinewood Derby races, and publicized it a little, it probably would have had a better turn out. I can hardly wait until it comes out on VHS or DVD so I may buy a copy. As a Cubmaster, I am willing to help my district and/or council in showing it to the Cub Scouts.
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Maybe a little too real for some dads (and moms)
Retroman4027 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
While this may seem like a light-hearted parody of how parents live vicariously through their kids, based on my earlier experience as a cub scout leader (who happened to run the District Pinewood Derby since my pack had all the equipment shown in the movie) this movie is a lot closer to the truth than a lot of participating parents want to admit.

I had parents show up without kids. I had parents who wouldn't let their kid touch the car and complained about the rule that the kids had to actually present the car to race. I found all sorts of questionable modifications to wheels and axles. Perhaps the movie stretches it a bit, but not that much. The internet is full of sites devoted to winning the PWD - someone is buying the stuff. To control runaway parental participation, we finally implemented a rule where all work had to be done at special sessions and the kits impounded. We also started a special "adults only" race and ran off the winners of the kids with the adults - know what - the kids always won.

If you're looking for a movie that's fun to watch with no violence/sex/language - this one is for you. The movie has a "bad guy" that we've all known and just want to see him go down.

This movie is certainly worth putting in your Nexflix queue.
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Hilarious, well acted comedy.
K Miller4 June 2007
If you have any experience with the pinewood derby you will love this cleverly written film about the extremes some father's go to to win. Having participated in several pinewood derby's as a young Boy Scout, I loved the idea of this film. It spoofs the all too common tendency of a father to take the building and racing of their "son's" derby cars way too seriously. The competition becomes more between the fathers than the sons. The gags are clever. The spoofs, while exaggerated as they need to be for comedy, are all too real. Take the time to watch this film when you'd like to enjoy a good laugh, not to mention, a good message about putting your family first.
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Nothing "down" here, this upbeat movie is one fine and funny family flick
Amy Adler8 December 2010
When Phil (Greg Germann) was a kid, he ruled his California town as the champion athlete. That is, until the day Ace Montana (Marc Raymond) came to town and left poor Phil a permanent second for the next few years. Now, they are both adults and still living in the same community. Phil is married to the lovely Kim (Lauren Holly) and Ace has an equally stunning wife (Hunter Tylo). But, Phil remains envious of Ace and his abilities. Therefore, when its time for the scouts annual Pinewood Derby, Phil is determined that his son, Brady, will be the winner over Ace's offspring. His two closest friends decide to enter their sons in the competition, too. Soon, everyone is toting long wooden boards into their dwellings and trying to perfect the little vehicles and their ramps. Phil takes over his own bedroom, much to Kim's disgust, who has to sleep under the ramp. When her hair dryer blows up, due to over extended outlets, Kim sees red. She tells Phil she is taking Brady to her mother's house for awhile. And, she cautions her advertising executive husband not to neglect, and/or, lose his actual JOB over his derby obsession, for a wealthy client (Pat Morita) is counting on excellence. Will Phil let Ace-mania destroy his exemplary life? This is a fine, funny family flick that will please everyone, especially fathers and sons. When it comes to little racing cars, few males can resist the competitive tug at their hearts to beat the opposition. As the main cast members, Germann and Holly are wonderfully humorous and the supporting cast is very fine as well. Then, too, the California setting is lovely, the costumes are terrific and the camera work, comical script, and energetic direction are all big assets. Most importantly, the movie has no objectionable material or language, making it an ideal choice for everyone in the household. Therefore, look for this upbeat flick on your next trip to the DVD outlets and plunk down a few bucks. It will be money very well extended.
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Ignore the naysayers. This is a great comedy!
James Flood3 April 2011
I'm beginning to get it now. If a movie is family-friendly, critics and armchair critics walk in with a prejudice. I'm glad I didn't hear any negative reviews before seeing this because I thought it was a very well-constructed comedy, and quite frankly, I was laughing my head-off. But this wasn't simply a series of gags. While it has it's many knock-you-in-the-face comedic moments, it also employs subtlety. This is the genre of comedy that Steve Martin used in "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" and "Cheaper by the Dozen II" where good and upstanding characters gradually descend into immaturity and loss of self-control in their pursuit of a (usually stupid) goal, all the while showing the audience how these ridiculous choices can seem reasonable to the unfortunate but lovable characters. Greg Germann was truly excellent in his lead role as Phil Davis. I usually don't want to see a movie a second time, but this one is different. Had "Down and Derby" added expletives, off-color jokes, and a little nudity to earn it a PG-13 or R rating, I suspect the reviews would be much more favorable. But, alas, it is good clean humor for the whole family. If you don't require expletives and sexual innuendo to laugh, then see this movie.
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A Hit at our school's Family Movie Night!
jstone-59 January 2007
There were over 300 people of all ages watching this projected outdoors at our school's movie night. Everyone loved it. It's a spoof on adults competing with each other through their kids -- much better than "Kicking and Screaming". Adults acting like kids -- a crowd pleaser with children with smart comedic moments that adults will enjoy also.

You'll be surprised by how much you enjoy it. Greg Germann gives a great performance. Why don't we see more of him? I think it was Pat Morita's last movie before he passed away. And, the main child actor (Adam Hicks) is very impressive. He was the same kid who stars in "How to Eat Fried Worms".

If you're a scout or have done the Pinewood Derby, this will have extra appeal. All our kids want to do now is build a pinewood derby car...
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The long wait to build your own pinewood derby car
SimonJack28 February 2018
"Down and Derby" is a genuine comedy, but with obvious limited appeal. The comedy is about the extent to which some dads go to "help" their sons win the pinewood derby races in Cub Scouts. This film centers around four men. Three were childhood pals and the fourth was their nemesis - a new kid who moved into the neighborhood in those years. But now they all are grown and live in a very nice suburb, probably in California. And, all are neighbors.

A favorite dialog exchange is between Phil and Kim Davis. He rolls out a set of actual blueprints for a derby car. Kim asks, "When did you have time to make these?" Phil, "Oh, I had them drawn up, uh, the minute I found out we were having a boy. Yeah I've been saving 'em for Brady's first derby."

I won't give away the conclusion of the film. There's a nice lesson in it, even a moral or two. But the film is about the obsessive drive that overtakes each of the three men as he seeks to build the perfect and winning car for his son. This is greatly exaggerated (I think) to the extent that each dad builds his own derby racetrack for testing his car or cars. And, in this film, not a single boy has anything to do with any of the cars their dads are building. Not even for the "fun" stuff - whatever that was supposed to be, once the major design work is complete.

I don't think this film had a wide release in theaters. But more people would likely watch it if they knew about it. That would include most dads who ever "helped" a son with a pinewood derby car. And the moms - some of whom may have stood in for dads, but others who put up with the strange behavior of the dads during the derby days. Of course, most of the boys would be covered in the group of dads - having grown up, had a son of their own, and finally been able to build their own car (as a dad). In this movie, one of the boys says he can't wait to grow up to be a dad so he can build his pinewood derby car.

At first, one might think that many dads with derby experience wouldn't care about this film. Those would be the guys who didn't get carried away. They didn't take over their son's father-son derby project, and make it their own one-man project. There are no statistics, so we don't know how many such dads there may be. One suspects that most dads probably did make it a joint project. In this film, while many of the cars have slick designs, not that many were super fast. So, those dads might enjoy this film for its portrayal of what they saw or knew from among the packs in which their boys competed. There always seem to be a few dads who are driven (pun coincidental) to perfection and winning.

The film shows a video, a pinewood derby bible, a complete workshop and a professional lab that dads use to work on their cars - their perfect speed machines. Yet, the pinewood derby winners more often than not, have been flukes. And, on that I can speak from experience. I helped three sons make their pinewood derby cars, for several derbies. These were in different cities. Not being an engineer or designer, I succeeded in convincing my sons that we should try for the best design prize. So, we built cars for their looks, sleek appeal and paint jobs. Of course we tried all the other tips and tricks to make them as fast as possible. They were all very close to the maximum weight of five ounces. All of them won a prize for best design - a couple of them first places and others 2nd through 4th. But, one also was the derby race winner. And I can honestly say (admit) that it was a fluke.

The most memorable of those was the first one. It was my oldest son's and my first pinewood derby. I had been in Cub Scouts just one year as a boy, and that was before the pinewood derby came on the scene. My son and I both worked on the car. I did the sawing for the main shape, and he did most of the sanding - by hand. We used a lead screw plug, halved, as two jet engines, which I glued and nailed on the top. We both painted the car - a deep metallic maroon with gold trim. And, we fitted and tapped the wheels on together. We didn't have our own tracks to test the cars on.

The pack we were in had dads with all kinds of backgrounds, including engineers. The favorite to win that year was a boy and dad who had won the previous year. The dad was an aeronautical engineer for a space agency. We were allowed to test the cars on the track the day before the race. My son's car was quite fast. On the day of the derby, my son's car won third place for design. And then, he made it to the race finals. Our "fluke" car won first place, beating out the favored car which finished second.

For those who watch this film, I will say that the reaction at the end of our first pinewood derby was quite different. The young Cub who finished second threw one of the worst temper tantrums I've ever seen. From that time on, I tempered my sons to do the derby for the fun of it and the challenge of making a nice looking racecar together.
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Godawful mess, and the scouts should distance themselves from this turkey
djdekok24 November 2005
Well, let's see. Men are stupid, living vicariously thru their sons and would rather pursue their hobby than enrich their marriage and family life; all married women have large breasts and shallow minds, Japanese men are even more stupid and shallow than their American counterparts.

yup, these are ideas that we want in the heads of America's boys and young men...It's appropriate that I write this review on Thanksgiving...what a turkey this movie is! It was and should be an embarrassment to the American Film industry. The Boy Scouts of America should put as much distance as possible between themselves and this sinfully bad movie.

As far as the "satire" and "parody" comments, those remind me of the tired old line "I don't know what you're talking about" when the murderer is uncovered (It's obvious he does). In other words, they call it a satire because deep down they know how BAD their work is. (See "Charlie's Angels", Eddie Murphy in "Harlem Nights", etc.)
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Don't Expect Much.....
dhuntress2 March 2011
It's a good idea for a story but there is not enough substance to it. The movie becomes predictable after the first twenty minutes. The film would be better served if it cultivated other family life issues along with the derby. When winning the Derby is the only thing this whole movie is about than the entertainment value is compromised. My son and I just won our local event, so I do know about what it is like to have that male fixation to build and race your own car. Nonetheless when I tried watching the movie with my son the other day he was utterly bored. The acting is also pretty sad. The only redeeming quality of this feature is Lauren Holly in a sun dress....enough said!
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moms with boys in the cub/boy scouts may get the biggest kick out of this movie.
jfarms195621 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Down and Derby is a movie that moms with boys will find most interesting. Although the film is geared towards boys and their dads, moms with boys in the cub/boy scouts may get the biggest kick out of this movie. The substance of this movie is about winning at all costs by the dad of the cub/boy scouts who have entered the Pinewood Derby. The boys are supposed to be SUPERVISED by the dads, not the dads supervised by their sons. The movie goes through some comedic phases until the moms save the day by taking their sons away from the dads. Three of the dads finally come to a compromise. In the end, most of the dads realize that it is more important that the boy enter his own car into the race. Of course, it wins, even beating the number one winning car of all time. This of course is unrealistic, but it's Hollywood. It is the moms who try to tell the dads -- win or lose, it is the BOY's race and the Boy's fun. Moms enjoy. Get a group of you to watch the movie. Popcorn and snacks all around.
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