Film >2 FAST 2 FATUOUS
No matter how impishly magical he may seem, your average wise old duffer is only repeating clever-clever lines he's spouted 1,000 times or more over the years yet is still on the verge of forgetting. Sir Anthony Hopkins, star of The World's Fastest Indian, totally gets this concept in his portrayal of Burt Munro, an aged New Zealander who traveled all the way to the Bonneville Salt Flats in the 1960s to see what kind of speeds his vintage Indian motorcycle could handle. Now, it may seem the faintest sort of praise to say that Hopkins can play a senior citizen convincingly, but one listen to his take on the character's authentically stilted speech pattern a halting, straining-to-remember delivery that makes Christopher Walken sound natural and you'll have to admit that Hopkins has his folksy old farts down cold.
The movie, not so much. It's an insufferably cute vision quest that takes Burt halfway around the world to fulfill his dream of running his prized "motorsickle" flat-out at Bonneville. Everybody he meets on this journey finds the eccentric Kiwi a sheer delight, for the same reason that every waitress in the world thinks your dad is the funniest guy ever: because she's never heard his jokes before. Meanwhile, you're ready to throttle the tiresome old son of a bitch.
Familiarity likewise breeds contempt in Indian, which subjects us to 127 minutes of Burt's homespun homilies, naughty euphemisms and self-effacing references to his failing prostate. Writer/director Roger Donaldson (Thirteen Days, The Bounty) is so beguiled by the character's supposed charm that he doesn't burden the film with any lasting conflicts; what passes for drama is a smattering of breathless monologues about bike physics (center of gravity, center of force, zzzzzz) and the sporadically visited possibility that acute angina will take Burt out before he reaches the flats.
We should be so lucky. A nice coronary would spare us Burt's treacly encounter with a doomed 'Nam soldier and his goofy tryst with a sexually frustrated widow (Diane Ladd) the latter of whom impulsively jumps his bones, then justifies their nauseating December-December coupling by reasoning that "what we don't use, we lose." She should consider losing it.