Cinema Romance: Baby Driver

Overall, I liked Baby Driver (2017) but what sullied the film for me was the romance. Now, I like romance. Aside from Disney movies, my first true experience with cinema romance came from Star Wars and I was hooked. I’m as mushy as they come. But despite the more “grounded” plot of Baby Driver compared to Star Wars, I could not conjure up the suspension of disbelief in order to enjoy Baby and Deb’s relationship.

First of all, I think  Deb was unbelievably dumb for not being able to realize that Baby’s job as a “chauffeur” was not exactly on the up and up.

The fact that Baby told her that he hopes she wouldn’t know any of the people he drives and he goes whenever he’s called, combined with his obviously-a-burner phone should’ve been enough to tip her off that his work is illegal. She may not have guessed that he was a getaway driver for grand larceny but she could’ve at least assumed he was running drugs and known to stay away.

You could argue that maybe the movie was set back in time and so Deb would’ve just thought that the flip phone was actually his phone. There is some ambiguity regarding the time period the movie is set in due to Baby’s tape recorder, iPod Classic, mixtapes, and music equipment. However, I’m certain that the movie is more or less set in the time period it was released, if for no other reasons than the Square payment terminal at the Octane coffee shop and the fact that when Baby and Deb stole that red 2015 Dodge Challenger, the two guys inside were vaping and the one had a smartphone which appeared to be an Android. That link is for a website that details all of the cars in the movie, with the oldest being from 1958 and the newest being from 2016, which puts the movie right in line with the release date.

I’m going to assume that it would’ve been rude of Debora to comment on her customer’s low tech equipment but really Deb, no one in 2017 uses a flip phone that isn’t a burner. Aside from that, I think the old music equipment was more for the overall aesthetic of the movie and the fact that Baby probably couldn’t afford newer stuff since he has to pay rent and Joe likely has some sizeable medical bills and prescriptions.

Lesson 1: If a guy (or anyone really) has a flip phone these days and acts mysterious about his job, it’s a burner and he’s doing something shady.

When Debora, Baby, and Doc were all in the elevator ready to make their escape, Doc told them to trust no one but each other and to never look back. Being in that situation for the rest of your life is not healthy at all and I think it’s perfect breeding grounds for a toxic relationship. When you’re constantly living in fear of being extradited, you become isolated and isolation from friends and family and other people aside from your boyfriend/girlfriend or spouse is the main ingredient in Stockholm syndrome and abuse.

I’m a firm believer in the fact that sometimes love is not enough because healthy and sustainable relationships take more than just love to work. Relationships are more than just liking the same music and having great chemistry, they’re also about where you are in life and where you’d like to go and if that doesn’t match what the other person wants then the relationship has an expiration date, no matter how good it is at the moment. Both Baby and Deb want to just drive with nothing but each other, the road and music. Ok, that sound’s awesome… for a summer fling. But it’s not something that you can do with someone that you’re on the lam with and you have to leave your home country and build a new life together.

Let’s pretend that Deb and Baby did make it out of the country together. If this was a real-life scenario, I’m willing to bet that they would come to find out that maybe they aren’t as compatible as they first thought. Do they both want children? How many? Can they meet each other’s emotional needs in the relationship? Can they disagree with you, argue respectfully and without getting physical or emotionally abusive? These are the type of things that you can’t know after knowing someone for a month or two. Simply put, I don’t think Deb and Baby know each other well enough for her to justify jumping into the decision to effectively spend the rest of her life with him.

Lesson 2: You should know someone for a good long while before making a decision that binds you together for the rest of your life, like going on the lam, having a baby, or starting a business together.

No matter how nice or sweet or a good person someone is (or appears to be), staying with them after you find out that they are a criminal, at best makes you stupid and at worse, makes you an accessory. Realistically, Debora would’ve been arrested on that bridge too, and charged with aiding and abetting a wanted fugitive.

Other than Debora being a shortsighted dumbfuck, the main problem I have with this romance is the way it’s implied that Baby is different and it’s ok because he “has a good heart” and it’s not his fault. While I definitely agree that good people do bad things, sometimes for the right reasons, sometimes for the wrong ones, and that Baby got himself into a very difficult situation, that’s just it. Baby got himself into that situation. And I would say that despite his kindness and aversion to violence, it is his fault.

Doc said that Baby was boosting cars since he could see over the dash, which considering that Baby is a tall glass of water (the actor is 6’3), the fact that Baby’s “Spirit of 85” incident happened “like 10 years ago,” and assuming that Baby is between 18 and 24 years old, but at least 21 since he ordered wine at that fancy restaurant, I assume he started stealing cars when he was between 10 and 13. My point is, no matter how “troubled” Baby’s childhood was, he damn well was old enough to know that stealing and damaging someone else’s car is wrong.

Of course, Deb didn’t know that little piece of backstory but regardless, it was stupid of her to get mixed up with Baby to the point that she was going on the lam with him. I don’t know why females are so likely to overlook a guy’s obvious, blood red warning flags just because he’s “nice” and likes the same music. Imagine if the situation were reversed. Pretend that Debora was the driver with a tragic backstory and Miles was some guy working at that coffee shop downtown. In real life, most guys would be so quick to leave a bitch for being an accomplice in conspiracy, grand theft auto, and grand larceny and then ghost her.

To prove my point, just look at how many women visit men in prison versus how many men visit women in prison. And honestly, I don’t blame the men. I don’t see the honor in being a “ride or die” when the “die” part is literal and related to illegal activity.

Lesson 3: No matter how hot or sweet someone is or how crazy the chemistry, don’t stay with them if you know they’re doing illegal shit.

I know I’m really just hating on Debora but honestly, she should’ve known better to stay in this relationship. Sure Baby wasn’t totally forthcoming with her about his life but at some point, you have to stop blaming someone else for lying to you and start taking responsibility for letting them bamboozle you more than once or twice. And she was the idiot who decided to get into that Charger. In real life, things don’t turn out like they did in this movie and I don’t think Baby is as innocent and good-natured as he’s made to seem.

In real life, Debora gets impaled by Buddy with that crowbar or she gets arrested and sentenced to prison too. And if neither of those happens, I find it very unlikely that Miles serves a short 5-year sentence, keeps his head down, and then gets out on parole. Most likely, one of Doc’s guys on the inside or one of Bat’s friends makes prison a living hell for Miles and prevents him from getting that parole hearing.

Now that I think about it, Baby was also kind of an idiot for killing Bats. I’m not saying Bats didn’t deserve to die because I think he did. But Baby was the idiot who was wearing the same clothes on the job as he was the day before at the post office when he knew that employee would be there the next day. He also knew Buddy and Darling were planning to kill Bats after the job so Bats would’ve gotten what was coming to him anyways and Baby could’ve kept his hands clean that way. The movie makes it seem like Baby got triggered by Bats shooting that guard and that’s why he drove into that truck. But I think Baby killed Bats on purpose because Bats pissed him off (ostensibly by killing that guard). As much as Baby hates violence, he’s known Doc for about 10 years so it’s not like murder is anything new to him and he barely flinched when Doc told them that the gun dealers that Bats, Buddy, and Darling just shot were cops. Sure they were dirty cops but they were still cops and people with families. It doesn’t make sense that seeing the corpse of J.D. in the trunk and taking that car to the dump would trigger Baby but not hearing that a bunch of police officers were just shot by his own crew. Also, Doc asked Baby if they should go through with the job, and Baby could’ve called it off right then and there.

Of course, if Baby didn’t go through with the job or kill Bat’s, there wouldn’t “be a movie.” Although I think the romance in this movie is overrated and Baby isn’t as innocent as he appears.

Lesson 4: People will always portray themselves as the hero of their own story but sometimes they aren’t as innocent as they seem.

If you have any movie suggestions for the Cinema Romance series, let me know in the comments! I need to be able to play back a movie when writing these things so try to only recommend movies that are already out on DVD or on Netflix or just be patient if I don’t cover your suggestion for a few months. I’ll be doing Nerve (2016) next.

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