For 25 years in Invercargill at the south end of New Zealand, Burt Munro (1899-1978) has been working on increasing the speed of his motorcycle, a 1920 Indian. He dreams of taking it to the Bonneville Salt Flats to see how fast it will go. By the early 1960s, heart disease threatens his life, so he mortgages his house and takes a boat to Los Angeles, buys an old car, builds a makeshift trailer, gets the Indian through customs, and heads for Utah. Along the way, people he meets are charmed by his open, direct friendliness. If he makes it to Bonneville, will they let an old guy on the flats with makeshift tires, no brakes, and no chute? And will the Indian actually respond? Written by
The film contains two cast members from Sons of Anarchy (2008), Walton Goggins and William Lucking. A series also about motorcycle enthusiasts. See more »
When the Challenger I is being pushed to the start line and the start of its run announced, the next shot shows it clearly parked in the background, followed by a shot of it driving down the track. See more »
[rolling a distance gauge]
93... 94... 95... 96... 97...
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Anthony Hopkins is simply astounding. The man can disappear inside of
characters so diverse and capture you so completely, that you have to
wonder if his well of talent has a bottom.
This film is at turns charming, bawdy, fascinating, riveting, nerve
wracking, hilarious, heartwarming and heartbreaking. As Burt Munro --
an aging New Zealand man losing his hearing, short on money, living in
a shed surrounded by weeds, considered a lovable if eccentric oddball
by all who know him except one small boy, and obsessed with making a 45
year old motorcycle capable of breaking the land speed record on the
Bonneville Salt Flats -- Hopkins takes us along for the ride every
minute of this movie. The fact that this film is based on the true
story of Burt Munro makes it all the more captivating, but a lesser
actor than Hopkins might very well have lost us along the way. It is no
wonder that the children of the real-life Burt Munro were moved to
tears by Hopkins' portrayal.
There's a clever ongoing bit about the taste of Burt's hot tea, and you
will also wonder a bit about how his lemonade might taste. Every scene
is a jewel in this movie, and the cumulative effect proves that
extraordinary films do not have to cost bazillions of dollars and take
two years of computer-generated special effects to WOW their audience.
Burt is challenged by every imaginable obstacle standing between him
and his speed dream: his failing heart may give out any minute, the
journey around the world to transport the 1920 Indian motorcycle to the
USA seems insurmountable, he has no machine shop or whiz-bang tools and
equipment to work his engineering miracles, etc. What he DOES have is
an indomitable spirit that will never, ever stop trying. Whether he's
battling young ruffians who diss his ancient motorcycle or banking,
bureaucrats and red tape, he is a wrinkled but worthy warrior.
The supporting cast is as beautiful and bizarre as it gets, and the
audience becomes inordinately fond and just about every one of them
except for a nasty foreign cabdriver (Carlos Lacamara), but hey,
somebody had to be disliked. Great actors in small roles abound,
including Diane Ladd as Ada, a frontier gal that's been lonely a while,
Saginaw Grant as Jake, an "Indian" with a really distasteful solution
to Burt's prostate problems, and Paul Rodriguez as Fernando, a human
and humane used car salesman. Perhaps the best scene -- and heart --
stealer is Chris Williams as Tina, a cross-dressing front desk night
clerk at a fleabag hooker hotel. You gotta love him. Or her, as the
case may be. Stellar performance, and Hopkins' Burt treats Tina with
such dignity it defines friendship.
Don't miss this fine, fine film. And if there is justice in the boffo
box office world, The World's Fastest Indian will be a true Oscar
contender in 2006.
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