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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Crime > Drama > Thriller > Cars > Con Artist > Murder > Comedy > Baby Driver (2017/Sony Blu-ray)/Playing Around (1930/First National/Warner Archive DVD)

Baby Driver (2017/Sony Blu-ray)/Playing Around (1930/First National/Warner Archive DVD)

Picture: B+/C Sound: B+/C Extras: B/D Films: B/C+

PLEASE NOTE: The Playing Around DVD is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.

Next up are two films from two different time periods that represent the idea of being slick, cars included...

Baby Driver

Director Edgar Wright adds to his impressive resume of films (which include Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, At World's End, and Scott Pilgrim vs The World) with the action-packed Baby Driver (2017). This creative and kinetic film was a crowd pleaser both critically and commercially when it premiered in cinemas last summer and is now finding its way onto home video, including this Blu-ray, thanks to Sony. The disc not only looks and sounds great but is also packed with some great extras that make this release a must grab.

The cast of Baby Driver includes Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Jon Bernthal, Kevin Spacey, R. Marcos Taylor, Jamie Foxx, and Jon Hamm, a mix of newcomers and established names.

Baby (Elgort) is the fastest getaway driver around who lives and breathes music and for whom is on speed dial with the sinister Doc (Spacey) who employs him for a series of bank robberies. After a few successful runs, Baby decides that he's getting out of the business in an attempt to live a someone normal life and to help take care of his deaf stepfather, for whom he lives with. However, Doc isn't so anxious to lose his best driver and forces Baby into a corner with his biggest job yet. Just as he meets the girl of his dreams and life seems to be perfect, he gets mixed up with a bad bunch of crooks (Foxx, Hamm) and gets in a whole heap of trouble. Using his expansive playlist with his earbuds in his ears and sunglasses over his eyes, Baby can accomplish anything on the road but its when he's on foot that he finds himself in hot water.

The film was shot by Bill Pope (The Matrix Trilogy), who is no stranger to the world of car chases and expansive action sequences under his lens and fully delivers here. Aided by its impressive soundtrack and perfect editing, this film is one of the more impressive and original takes on a familiar genre that I've seen in a while.

Presented on Blu-ray in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2:40.1 and a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless track, the film is sharp and loud and sure to give your home entertainment system a workout. While we sadly aren't covering the reportedly superior 4K Ultra HD 2160p Blu-ray release at this time, this Blu-ray is up to standards for the format, what is visually intended and is solid. The film is bright and stylized with nice character detail and sound design.

A digital UV copy is also included.

Special Features:

Extended/Deleted Scenes - 20 minutes of extended scenes and a few moments that were dropped from the final cut.

Mozart In A Go-Kart: Ansel Drives - Ride shotgun with star Ansel Elgort as he works with the talented stunt drivers to become the ultimate getaway driver.

I Need A Killer Track: The Music - Explore how the film's phenomenal soundtrack dictated both the writing process and all aspects of production on Baby Driver.

That's My Baby: Edgar Wright - Follow Edgar Wright's vision of Baby Driver from its inception two decades ago, to its ultimate realization on the big screen.

Meet Your New Crew: Doc's Gang - Led by powerhouse Kevin Spacey, the cast assembled to form Doc's gang is perfectly constructed, with stars like Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm as well as up and coming talent like Eiza Gonzalez and Jon Bernthal.

Find Something Funky On There: The Choreography - With every frame of Baby Driver set to a specific beat it took precise choreography by the cast, crew and editors to create a cinematic dance like nothing that's been done before. Hear from the choreographer and filmmakers on this groundbreaking process.

Devil Behind The Wheel: The Car Chases - From closing down Atlanta's interstates to creating eye-popping maneuvers for a variety of vehicles, witness the amazing craftsmanship and sheer determination that made the film's incredible car chases possible.

Animatics - Check out over 35 minutes of the numerous pre-vis animatics developed by Edgar Wright as part of his meticulous preparation.

Ansel Elgort Audition - See firsthand the audition that proved without a doubt that Ansel Elgort was the perfect choice for Baby.

Annotated Coffee Run Rehearsal - Day one of production involved one of the film's most elaborately choreographed sequences where every movement is carefully crafted. See the preliminary rehearsal and see the behind the scenes movement in concert with Ansel Elgort's on camera choreography.

Hair, Make Up & Costume Tests - In this stylized montage, witness the transformation of the actors through costume, hair and make-up tests.

Mint Royale "Blue Song" Music Video - This music video directed by Edgar years ago for the band Mint Royale showcases some early inspiration for Baby Driver.

Complete Storyboard Gallery - See the elaborate storyboards developed for the film in this gallery featuring storyboards for the entire film.

Director Audio Commentary Track

and separate Filmmaker Commentary (Edgar Wright and Director of Photography Bill Pope)

If you're a fan of films with great car-chases, high stake bank robberies, and unpredictable and well developed characters, then Baby Driver should be on your list.

Playing Around

The love affair with cars and its extended love through cinema goes back to the silent period when films began with car racing and watching rich people trying the newfangled 'horseless carriages' made more interesting by the combination of new technology hardly anyone had seen before and before the advent of paved roads. By the time sound arrived, cars were as much a hit as the movies and they still meant a certain status. You'd see them with the rich, in comedies (the original Topper (reviewed on Blu-ray elsewhere on this site) has the tipsy leads wrecks and become ghosts. They were also used in more than a few dramas and Mervin LeRoy's Playing Around (1930) uses an equally desirable, fancy auto (then and now) as part of its tale.

At first, this would seem like a comedy with the beautiful Alice White (being promoted as a new big lead star actress, she definitely had the camera liking her) as a talented stenographer in a joyless marriage, bored when she just wants to have fun. Her beau works for her father in his popular cigar shop and it is all at least safe, but a shaky, charming con artist (an solid early role for Chester Morris, who would play other baddies, as well as the great anti-hero/detective in some of the Boston Blackie films and radio dramas) pretending to be a man of means (fancy car included) when he is really a two-bit thief.

Sheba (White) falls for all this, but the slickster tries to rob her father's place, not knowing they are related and things take a turn for the worse, then this becomes more of a crime drama. I will stop as not to spoil this, but this was about decade before LeRoy got the big credit on Gone With The Wind and Wizard Of Oz (despite many others working on both) gaining his own big screen immortality. This runs only 66 minutes, but it is tight, smart and shows he was a better journeyman director than just on those big productions. This one actually starts with a musical number (backstage at an entertainment club) instantly setting a tone of fun, joy and a little mischief, which it sustains until later. The cast is also good, making one wonder why White was not a bigger star.

Either way, this is a top-notch production for its time, a good script and could actually show a thing or two to too many of the big budget zombified, tired, big screen 'blockbusters' that have forgotten the basics.

I also like the way this film was shot and even like some of the early use of sound, but the 1.33 X 1 black and white image and lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono are on the weak side showing the films age. However, this one really ought to be restored for Blu-ray, 4K and the like because it has some fine moments and serious films fans should go out of their way to catch it.

To order the Playing Around Warner Archive DVD, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- James Lockhart & Nicholas Sheffo



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