Occasionally, I get e-mails from readers with column ideas. A few of the more memorable suggestions include taking my Nissan Cube to a dirt track rally, doing a monster-truck style stadium jump in my SUV, and setting my face on fire so no one has to look at it again.
Unfortunately, none of these ideas really work for me personally. Is it because they'll cause me great financial or personal peril? No! It's because doing them would require that I stand up, put on pants, and step outside into the real world.
What I'm really looking for, as a professional automotive journalist, is a column idea that I can safely execute from the comfort of my own home, as I clip my toenails.
Fortunately, I received such an idea just a few days ago from Matt Farah, host of world-famous YouTube channel The Smoking Tire. Matt asked me to watch his new movie, All Cars Go To Heaven, which is currently available on Vimeo for approximately the price of shampoo. So I watched it, and here's what I think.
Now, before we really get into this, it's important to mention that I've never done a movie review before. You might be thinking: How hard can it be??? (Except this is the Internet, so you're thinking: How hard can it be, you asshole???) Well, the answer is: pretty hard. How much of the plot do you give away? How much of the story do you tell? How much do you make fun of Zack Klapman for buying a used Jeep Cherokee from a guy who probably spent the entire purchase price on meth before the Jeep even left the county?
I have no idea. So I read a few movie reviews in order to get the hang of it. And here's what I learned: movie reviews suck. They include phrases like "the movie re-contextualizes the idea of a femme fatale in a decidedly unhealthy way" and "the director's brand of humor was tedious" and – this is an actual quote from an actual movie review – "the movie sometimes simmers when I wish it would boil over." They also make heavy use of the word "verisimilitude." So I decided to skip all that and review the movie my own way.
To start, here's the basic plot of this movie: Matt and three friends — Tom Morningstar, Zack Klapman, and Thaddeus Brown — decide to traverse the entire state of Washington, from the Oregon border to Canada, almost exclusively on off-road trails. This is a 600-mile trip, so you realize from the very beginning that this is an adventure you're more than happy to watch from the comfort and safety of your own home, where you won't get dirt in your nostrils.
Two amazing things happen within the first 15 minutes of the movie. Number one is that Jeep gives these guys a press car. You can tell this movie was shot last year, during Chrysler's especially desperate phase, because at some point the following conversation must've actually taken place:
Matt Farah: Hello, Jeep press office! We would like to abuse the hell out of a Grand Cherokee for 600 miles of washboard roads, dirt trails, high-mountain passes, and rock crawling.
Jeep press office: Why certainly, sir! What color would you like?
The other amazing thing is that these guys then attempt to purchase a second vehicle, another Jeep, entirely sight unseen, from a rural Washington resident who looks like the kind of person that spends a substantial portion of his income on glue, even when he's not helping his daughter with an elementary school art project. And they actually go through with it.
I won't ruin what happens next, except to say that the Jeep inevitably breaks and the guys take it to a rural Washington mechanic, whose wife inexplicably provides them with a wide array of homegrown vegetables. It was at this moment that the movie simmered when I wished it would've boiled over.
So now that we've covered the plot, you're probably wondering if the movie is any good. The answer is: this movie is surprisingly good. I say surprisingly because if I had made a movie, it would've been an amateur event full of shoddy camerawork and bad music. Whereas The Smoking Tire makes a movie, and the entire thing comes off as exciting, and enjoyable, and professional, except for the part where Matt refers to a suspension component as "I'm not sure what you actually call it... u-joint, maybe?"
Two things make this movie especially entertaining. For one, it's funny. If you like Top Gear challenges, you'll love everything about this film, as the guys provide their hilarious opinions on of all sorts of topics, ranging from camping ("you pay all this money for gear just to live like a hobo") to used cars ("don't spend $2,000 when you can spend $350"), and even local Washington wildlife ("this cow is boxing me out of the apex!").
But most importantly, you'll like this movie because – and I'm borrowing a word from an actual movie review here – it's approachable. You follow along and you feel like you're actually there, on the trails, enjoying the cars, when in reality you're sitting at home, safely on your couch, where your daily sustenance consists of more than a strangely shaped cucumber grown by a rural mechanic's wife.
So anyway: I highly recommend you spend the six bucks to rent this movie, or eight bucks to buy it, because it's really a blast. And I say this with every bit of my verisimilitude.
@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars. He owned an E63 AMG wagon and once tried to evade police at the Tail of the Dragon using a pontoon boat. (It didn't work.) He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer, largely because it meant he no longer had to wear pants. Also, he wrote this entire bio himself in the third person.