"Be Careful What You Wish For"
What You Need To Know:
COP CAR is very suspenseful, with a lot of nervous laughter as the naïve boys get into deeper trouble. It’s also very cinematic. It doesn’t rely on dialogue but tells its story visually. COP CAR leaves things up to viewers what to make of its story, though it’s clear who the bad guys are. Thus, it has a mixed worldview with plenty of foul language, including some foul language by the boys. There’s also brief extreme violence and an image of cocaine use. So, COP CAR is excessive.
(PaPa, H, B, LLL, VVV, S, A, DD, MM) Mixed pagan worldview with humanist and moral elements; about 53 obscenities (including some “f” words and some obscenities by pre-adolescent boys, two GDs by two pre-adolescent boys and four light profanities; brief extreme violence and strong violence with blood includes woman shot in head, men shot in torso, boy has bloody gunshot in stomach, man hides a dead body, man takes boys captive and uses them as bait for corrupt sheriff who’s trying to kill him, boys play with guns but can’t figure out safety mechanisms, boy shoots out window to escape, man held captive in trunk; no sex, but brief sexual references in dialogue by boys taking turns saying obscenities; no nudity; alcohol use; smoking, corrupt sheriff dumps cocaine down toilet and then takes a snort; and, boys steal abandoned cop car, boys run away from homes and families, boys take police car for a joy ride, corrupt cop, it’s implied boys’ families are dysfunctional.
COP CAR is an intense tale of innocence lost about two pre-adolescent boys who come across an empty police car and become involved in a violent confrontation between the local sheriff and another man. COP CAR is a pretty riveting piece of film, but it involves two runaway children in some intense, adult situations.
The movie opens with the two boys, whose names are unknown until the end, who are apparently running away from their troubled homes and families. At first, the boys are just walking along rebelliously saying obscenities and profanities to one another. In a small gulley, they come across an empty police car, with a bottle of half-drunken beer on its hood. The boys find the keys and take off with the car.
Cut to a few moments before they arrived. The county sheriff, Mitch Kretzer, pulls up in the police car. He takes off his gunbelt and sheriff’s shirt and opens a beer. After placing the beer on the hood, he opens the trunk and drags out a dead body. There appears to be another body in the trunk, but the sheriff lays the first body on a tarp and drags it a distance away where there’s some kind of small well, covered with a plank of wood. He drops the body down the well, along with some lime to stop the body from stinking.
When Sheriff Kretzer returns to the car, he discovers it’s gone, and the beer bottle has been knocked to the ground. In a panic, Kretzer runs to a nearby rural trailer park and steals a car. He then drives to his house where his truck sits in the driveway. He calls the dispatcher, telling her he’s having interference with his car radio. He then makes sure that all his deputies use another frequency so he can call up whoever stole his car.
Meanwhile, the boys are out joy riding in the police car, turning on the siren as they drive across an empty field. Then, they start driving recklessly along a road, where a woman driver going the other way sees the boys pass her.
Stopping at a little restaurant, the woman reports what she saw to two policemen. Word gets back to the sheriff, who laughs and dismisses the woman’s story. However, he now knows who took his car, so he tries calling the boys on the radio, but they’re outside the car trying to shoot his shotgun and pistol. Happily, they know nothing about the safety mechanism on the guns and are completely perplexed.
Using the radio, Sheriff Kretzer tries to warn them about not opening the trunk, but they open it anyway and discover the other man, who’s been injured by the sheriff but is still alive. The man fools the boys into believing he’s a good guy, but then uses them to bait the sheriff into an ambush. Suddenly, the lark of stealing an empty police car becomes a deadly game of cat and mouse.
The origin for this story reportedly came from a childhood dream by one of the filmmakers, about he and his friend driving fast in his mother’s car. When he became an adult, the filmmaker says he asked himself, “What if the car were a police car?” Then, when he pitched the idea to another friend, the friend asked, “Whose police car is it?,” and a movie was born.
The result is a very suspenseful story, with some laughs, including a lot of nervous laughter as the naïve boys get deeper into trouble and endanger their own lives further. COP CAR is also a very cinematic movie in that it doesn’t rely on a lot of dialogue but often tells its story visually. Finally, the movie includes several strong references to other iconic movies, including Billy Wilder’s cynical ACE IN THE HOLE, Orson Welles TOUCH OF EVIL and Steven Spielberg’s classic DUEL. There’s also a bit of Sergio Leone’s ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST in the final shootout between the corrupt sheriff and the other man in the trunk. These derivations aside, the filmmakers still manage to create their own unique movie.
COP CAR leaves it up to the viewer what to make of its story. Thus, it doesn’t give viewers a worldview to latch onto one way or the other, though the filmmakers make it clear the sheriff is a corrupt guy who’s gotten in over his head. Eventually, the boys have to look out for one another when their situation becomes rather dicey when the sheriff and the other man in the trunk start shooting at one another across the road, with the boys [spoiler alert] trapped in the back seat of the police car. It all leads to an open-ended ending, but with a hint that things will end up positively for the boys, despite the negative consequences of their misbehavior.
Ultimately, therefore, COP CAR has a mixed worldview. It includes plenty of foul language, including some foul language by the two pre-adolescent boys. There’s also brief extreme violence and an image of cocaine use. So, COP CAR is excessive.