The State of the Movies: Ford v. Ferrari – Your Dad Will Like This One

Ford v. Ferrari is a true “dad movie” with wholesome values, goofy moments, and intense racing scenes that will keep you and your pops entertained.

Ford v. Ferrari comes to us from James Mangold, the director behind Logan and Walk the Line. It stars Matt Damon and Christian Bale and tells the story of two men, Carroll Shelby (Damon) and Ken Miles (Bale) who are hired by the Ford Motor Company to build a car that can defeat Ferrari in the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race. The film highlights the struggles the men went through not only to defy physics and build a car capable of reaching the speeds necessary to beat Ferrari but also deal with the corporate control of the Ford Motor Company.

I really did not know what to expect going into this movie. I really liked Logan so I knew at the very least this would be a well-directed movie. I had heard some mostly positive buzz coming out of festivals like TIFF, but I was concerned the movie would be “Oscar bait.” If you don’t know what “Oscar bait” is it refers to a movie that is overly sentimental and created as a “crowd-pleaser” in order to win over the voters of the Academy Awards. Famous YouTube film critic Adum from YMS had called the movie “oscar bait” in his review so I was concerned that it would be too overly sentimental. I still wanted to see it though, so I got my ticket for a showing at a Regal theater for 9:30 at the Thursday night IMAX showing.

The only thing was that when I got to the theater, the IMAX projector was broken and there were no other showings in any other formats. Any other night I would go home and simply see it another time, but I had a rental car for the night, and what the hell else was I to do with it from 9 PM-1 AM. I quickly saw that an AMC was also showing the movie in IMAX at 9:30 in IMAX, and next thing you know I got in my car and had my own little race down the I-8 West towards Mission Valley to get to the theater. Fortunately, I was able to get my ticket and get settled into the movie with only two more trailers left before the showing. It was overwhelming because I was not sure if I would make the movie in time, but the fast drive I was forced to make down the highway got me in the mood to see a fun racing movie.

Despite Ford V. Ferrari being a somewhat cheesy movie, it is overall still a lot of fun and worth seeing on the big screen.

Ford V. Ferrari is a fun movie with some very well constructed racing scenes and really great acting from both Bale and Damon. I don’t think it’s the best movie of the year but I don’t think it’s bad either. This really is a “dad movie” at heart which isn’t necessarily an insult as you may think. I think that simply means this movie has more wholesome values than the other selection of movies you have currently in theaters. Despite being a tense sports movie, it’s very wholesome which was definitely welcomed. There’s no larger force causing significant physical or psychological harm onto a person or group of people, it’s just simply a movie about two guys who love building and racing cars butting heads against other people who are also passionate about cars.

As expected the filmmaking in this movie is very good! From the directing to the cinematography to the editing, everyone in the crew was on their A-Game while making this movie. I loved the cinematography and sound design in particular and thought they made the racing scenes a lot of fun. As a filmmaker myself, the prospect of trying to get these racing scenes right makes me incredibly anxious. I can only imagine the issues they faced with the placement of the cameras onto the cars and the continuity of each shot. There’s so much that goes down in many of the scenes; cars are not only passing each other but they’ll often times crash into the track and explode, and it is important that if you are going to get multiple takes of these sequences from different angles, they match each other identically.

What they were able to accomplish was incredible and I, once again, have to commend all the crew involved in this production. The acting, as expected, is also fantastic! Matt Damon and Christian Bale work very well together and you see their friendship develop over the course of the movie. One of my favorite scenes is when they fight each other in front of Ken’s (Bale) house, but rather than have it be an intense dramatic sequence, it is very funny. They tumble on each other and Christian Bale throws groceries at Damon, it’s one of the funniest scenes in Ford v. Ferrari. There are a couple of moments like that where they will give each other a hard time in the most loving and goofy way they can and it’s always enjoyable to watch.

In regards to issues I have with this movie, it’s mostly in the script. The villains of the movie (the people at Ferrari and the corporate folks over at Ford) are so “cartoony” and one dimensional. It was clear they were trying to go for a more goofy approach to these villains, but it comes across really cheesy. In fact, all the other characters that aren’t Carroll and Ken are all cookie cutter and boring characters. Also, although this movie is still funny every once in a while there will be a joke that won’t work very well for me. It’s not common this happens, but it does happen every once in a while. Also, the movie is 2-1/2 hours long and for the first 45-60 minutes or so you can feel it. Once the racing is underway the movie mostly flies by but with trailers, prepare to be at the theater for almost three hours.

Despite Ford v. Ferrari being a pretty cheesy movie, I still had a lot of fun with it and would recommend you see this one too. I like that this movie is not a prequel, reboot, sequel, or anything else but rather a true story that a team of filmmakers decided to adapt into their own screenplay and production. I say the whole “take your dad to this movie” thing as a joke, but I do actually think this is a good movie to go see with your family when and if you go visit them for Thanksgiving next week. Don’t expect this to be the best movie of the year, but expect a good time!

Written by Christian Scognamillo
Follow me on Twitter:
https://twitter.com/christianscogs
Follow me on Letterboxd:
https://letterboxd.com/christianscogs/

Christian Scognamillo