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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 32.79%
Average: 11.48%
Pretty Bad: 11.48%
Total Crap: 0%

4 reviews, 37 user ratings

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World's Fastest Indian, The
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by William Goss

"Pedal To The Mettle"
3 stars

'The World’s Fastest Indian' refers to the motorcycle of one Burt Munro, the New Zealand native who set the land speed record with his trusty bike. The film’s lengthy journey, however, turns out to be just as smooth as the salt flats in which the record was broken. After all, what’s more endearing than an elderly eccentric dedicated to breaking the land speed record? According to 'Indian,' not a damn thing.

Anthony Hopkins delivers an adequately lightweight performance as the perpetually perky lead, emitting a endless sense of dedication and spunk as he travels halfway around the world, from his home in Invercargill to the salt flats of Bonneville, Utah. Once the film takes its sweet time establishing Munro’s part in the community, he departs for the States with his Indian in tow. The remainder of the first half is dedicated to episodic detours from his road trip, during which Burt charms yet another American into helping his cause. Whether it be a cross-dressing hotel clerk or an isolated widow, they always find Munro’s moxie undeniable and go out of their way to help him out. Besides, he didn’t come all the way from Invercargill, New Zealand for nothing. Eventually, Munro reaches the salt flats and once more works his Kiwi charm in order to participate in Speed Week and attempt to set a new land-speed record. (Hint: if a movie was made about him, chances are he succeeded.)

However, the forced whimsy soon begins to wear thin as the story continues along its prolonged and predictable path. Setting records is still a commendable feat, and congeniality is always welcome, but writer/director Roger Donaldson (Species, Dante’s Peak) suffers from a single-minded pursuit of pep, as does the film. This is not to say the film is impossible to enjoy. One would find it difficult not to pull for Munro to some degree, and the underdog factor never mutates into manipulative melodrama. A healthy amount of humor and a game ensemble ensure that Indian never surrenders to cynicism. Although Hopkins embodies Munro most admirably, the whole movie relies on the sheer gumption of the circumstances and the relentless optimism of the lead to help carry it through familiar terrain.

It is nice to see Hopkins behave in such a lively manner. Few scenes seem to lack his sincere smile or his hearty chuckle, and it never appears that perhaps Hopkins is struggling to counteract his sinister reputation as Hannibal Lecter by wooing ladies and befriending the lad next door. Munro is even too stubborn to let laws or even his own heart condition hinder him from reaching his goal.

At a time in which heavier fare probes new depths of negativity and depravity, it doesn’t hurt to have a film as overtly loveable as 'The World’s Fastest Indian' to bring back some balance to the theatre marquee, even if one wishes it didn’t come on nearly as strong as it had. These days, it’s just nice to know someone gives a pluck.

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originally posted: 02/06/06 06:54:05
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2005 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/29/13 Monday Morning No guns, car chases, zombies - just one of the finest feelgood films in a while. 4 stars
8/30/07 chienne Sir Tony is the only foreign actor to peg an Aussie accent tho he's sposed to be Kiwi 5 stars
8/14/07 Juliak FANTASTIC movie!! impossible to not like it!!! 5 stars
2/23/07 chienne I saw this on a big screen by DVD - loved it. The best affected Kiwi accented ever. Bravo 4 stars
11/04/06 Mike J. Swa it and thought it was inspiring!! Wife loved it as well!! 5 stars
9/19/06 Captain Craig A really fine flick..especially considering what we are usually forced to view. 4 stars
9/08/06 AnnieG A story about one of the greatest charmers to ever live! 5 stars
8/23/06 Jan Pedersen A delightful, uplifting story that's true too. Hopkins reminded me of my dad. 5 stars
8/13/06 Phil M. Aficionado I liked it better than I expected, as I usually detest films "based on" a real situation 4 stars
7/25/06 pin The Straight Story with a motorcycle. Hopkins is spot-on. 5 stars
5/28/06 brett palmer Fantastic movie .have watched 3 times. 5 stars
5/10/06 Leroy Clow the best movie I've seen in a long time 5 stars
4/26/06 Wayne nostalgic, heart-warming, wonderful!! 5 stars
4/23/06 alien assassin let's have more films like this !!! 5 stars
4/19/06 Bruce Wonderful feel good sensitive, great ending 5 stars
4/06/06 Helen Bradley Great photography very very slow paced 3 stars
3/07/06 Greg Ursic The speed trial sequences were riveting. 4 stars
2/28/06 mwildema Very fun viewing. 5 stars
2/19/06 steven hopkins excellent; race footage thrilling 4 stars
2/10/06 Norm Levin Unless you have a morbid fear of aging, speed and humanity, this is a great film 5 stars
12/14/05 dave cole great movie - authentic main figure 5 stars
11/24/05 Tower Sweet and Heartwarming without being too mushy 5 stars
11/07/05 Greg Duncraft A Movie that captures the Kiwi spirit 5 stars
10/28/05 Kevin barker A kiwi classic? Hopkins portrays the male NZ psyche with aplomb. Excellent movie. 5 stars
10/17/05 Grant McL. McLachlan It is obvious that Roger Donaldson has been thinking about this film for ages. Perfection! 5 stars
10/16/05 Michael Great movie, enjoyed it greatly 5 stars
10/16/05 DJG Good little film 4 stars
10/15/05 Leo Brown Great, still room in the world for characters 5 stars
10/15/05 Rebecca A imspirational, well-acted film 5 stars
9/29/05 E. Northam Well-intentioned but maudlin; emotionally manipulative & patronizing 2 stars
9/16/05 Andy Best film of the year, withouit a doubt 5 stars
9/15/05 karis excellent 5 stars
9/14/05 chris james loved the movie saw it in toronto 5 stars
9/13/05 Alex Brisbourne Great story, touchingly produced, Hopkins shines 5 stars
8/25/05 Dave Pratt witnessed filming at salt flats. very meticulous. incredble attention to detail 5 stars
8/21/05 Dr. Lisa Excellent movie. I had a chance to preview it while in Sturgis. Well done. 5 stars
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  09-Dec-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 13-Jun-2006

  24-Feb-2006 (12A)


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