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Movie Review

The World’s Fastest Indian

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief language, drug use and a sexual reference.

Reviewed by: Todd Patrick
CONTRIBUTOR

Better than Average
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Biography Adventure Drama History
Length:
2 hr. 7 min.
Year of Release:
2006
USA Release:
February 3, 2006 (wide)
Copyright, Magnolia Pictures
Copyright, Magnolia Pictures
Copyright, Magnolia Pictures
Copyright, Magnolia Pictures
Copyright, Magnolia Pictures
Copyright, Magnolia Pictures
Copyright, Magnolia Pictures
Copyright, Magnolia Pictures
Copyright, Magnolia Pictures
Copyright, Magnolia Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Magnolia Pictures

human interaction and connection

being a good neighbor

humility

Should I save sex for marriage? Answer

What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer

Fornication

Featuring: Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Lawford, Bruce Greenwood, Paul Rodriguez, Diane Ladd
Director: Roger Donaldson
Producer: David Gribble
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures

“The World’s Fastest Indian” opened today in limited release (February 3, 2006). It’s too bad that this weekend, while the multiplexes are dominated by “Big Momma’s House 2” and “Underworld 2”, this brilliant little film will go largely unheard of and unseen. It’s heartwarming, life-affirming, relatively family-friendly (I’ll explain later) and shows an openness and camaraderie between strangers that is almost unheard of today.

“The World’s Fastest Indian” is the story of Burt Munro, a motorcycle enthusiast from Invercargill, New Zealand. Burt owns a 1920 Indian motorcycle, which he continues to modify over the years, leading to his breaking of the 1967 land-speed record for 61-cubic inch motorcycles at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah at the age of 68.

This movie is charming in so many ways, I don’t even know where to begin. I guess the place to start would be with the man who makes Indian come alive on the screen: Sir Anthony Hopkins. Hopkins is one of the most gifted stage and screen actors working today. He has so developed his craft on such an intimate, personal level that he is just mesmerizing to watch.

Hopkins owns this movie. His charisma carries the film from start to finish. I found it very interesting that he chose this role. All actors have their own defined boundaries: the kind of roles they are suited for based on their looks, their personalities, and on how much they can alter their personality to suit the role requirements. Hopkins is known for playing mostly introverted, thoughtful characters of great depth like Titus Andronicus and C.S. Lewis. But with Indian, he surprises us with an entirely different side of himself. He plays Munro as a thoughtful, but completely open man. Slightly eccentric and totally trusting of the world and his place in it. He’s a charmer, and it’s hard not to be charmed by how he touches the lives of those around him, just by being interested in them.

Hopkins surrounds himself with topnotch actors to flesh out the film. Munro journeys from Invercargill all the way to Utah and meets a myriad of interesting, unique people; all of whom are masterfully brought to life by his supporting cast. Two standouts are his young neighbor Tom (Aaron Murphy) and Fernando, a Hollywood used-car salesman (Paul Rodriguez).

The cinematography and direction in Indian are wonderful. Roger Donaldson, who wrote and directed the film is unobtrusive and artful behind the camera and his script sparkles with wit and human emotion.

Indian, at its core, is about a man and his dream. Munro loves his Indian and speed, and he dedicates his life to getting the most out of his machine. Pushing it to its ultimate limits. But this idea actually takes the backseat to the real theme of the movie: human interaction and connection.

It’s about being a good neighbor. I couldn’t help but think of Jesus’ parable of the good samaritan as I watched this film. Everyone is Munro’s neighbor, wherever he goes. He is so kind to all the total strangers he meets. He’s humble, he’s authentic, and he’s unique. The strangest thing about the film was that Munro basically asks everyone he meets for some kind of help, but you get the feeling that HE’S really helping them, just by being present in the moment and responding deeply to each of them on an individual basis.

For families and younger viewers, however, I feel compelled to list the few offending parts so that you can make your own decision: there is almost no language, but there is (1) an instance of marijuana smoking, (2) two times where Munro sleeps with older, single women, and (3) a transvestite who works at a prostitution motel, whom Munro befriends.

I always make sure that I write my review of a movie before I look at any other reviews for it, but as I pulled up the internet movie database information for “The World’s Fastest Indian,” I caught a pop-up ad for the movie, featuring a quote from Roger Ebert: “One of the year’s most lovable movies.” I couldn’t agree more. I loved “…Indian.” It’s everything film entertainment should be. You cannot lose if you spend your money on this gem. Solid acting… solid directing… solid story. It gets my highest recommendation.

Violence: None / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Minor


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive
Positive—“The World’s Fastest Indian” is a tribute to the small man with a big vision. Anthonly Hopkins excells in mastering the NZ accent, and the whole movie is an inspiring and uplifting memory to a true down under hero. See it before you get totally consumed by big budget shallow movies that suck the life out of you! This will restore your faith in humanity. I loved every second of this film.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 5
—Andrew, age 40
Positive—I found this to be a thoroughly enjoyable movie, with Anthony Hopkins completely transformed into the unique and eccentric man who has a dream that will not die, no matter what. I was riveted by the story itself, by Munro’s dogged determination. However, there are some anti-Christian elements: he refers to his completely materialistic worldview in which, when you’re dead, you are completely dead, like a dead plant; also, his obvious passing sexual liaisons with women. Nevertheless, I found the story and the main character, as well as the performance of his little neighbor in New Zealand, quite fascinating. This is a really interesting movie.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 5
Halyna Barannik, age 59
Positive—At first I was not too keen on viewing this film. But I had read the review on this site, had some time before I had to start work, and the film seemed like it would be enjoyable. IT DEFINITELY WAS!!! I was not surprised to be the only young person in the theatre (I am 19), the rest of the audience were at least 50 years old I would guess, and that was a down-right shame. More young people should see these types of movies instead of the shallow garbage that is thrown at them. Most people had never even heard about this movie when I was recommending it to them, except for the two elderly women (81 and 90 years old) I do volunteer work with. Those who had heard of it looked at me like I was a loser for having seen it.

Good for anyone aged 10 and up, under 10 may not appreciate it. Hardly anything bad, I found myself rather cringe-free, AND I had a fair few chuckles!!! Excellent acting and directing, and a good message about perseverance to achieve your dreams even when some people may think them silly, being a friend and compassionate to ALL, and helping those in need. I LOVED IT…
My Ratings: Better than Average / 5
—Maria-Antoinette, age 19
Negative
Negative—The Fastest Indian was a cute little film about a man’s endeavor to make his mark on the world with his motorcycle—or so I thought. I enjoyed every aspect of the movie until the main character launched into a diatribe of foul language, to include the one word which will cause me to walk away, without looking back. It seems it’s impossible for a film maker to produce anything without taking the Lord’s name in vain. It’s one of my pet peeves. The one word I dread the most and want to warn others about is what I call GD (G*****N). It’s the quickest way to end the fun. For me, the fun ended about 20 minutes into the move. However, I strongly recommend watching this movie when it comes on channel 9 or 13 (once it’s been edited for all ears).
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 4
—Arlene Cline, age 40
Negative—Being an avid motorcycle enthusiast I thought for sure I was going to enjoy viewing “The World’s Fastest Indian”. Unfortunately, this was not the case. There are several reasons why I disliked this little road film. For starters, the trailer left the impression that this was a wholesome family movie filled with two-wheeled adventure and a heartfelt story between a man and a young boy. When I sat down to screen this film I noticed there were numerous families in attendance that brought their adolescent boys. So I don’t think my assumptions concerning this film were off base. I suppose this raised my expectations, and when they weren’t realized, the movie just didn’t work for me.

Sir Anthony Hopkins is a marvelous and gifted actor. As the gritty old coot Burt Monroe, I found the character fun to behold but not easy to cheer for during this movie. And I wanted so much to be in Monroe’s corner as he pursued his dream to break the land speed record on an old 1920 Indian Scout motorcycle. But as a Christian, I found it difficult to root for a man who slept with women while at the same time attempted to be a mentor for Thomas, the young lad who lived next door. But as Fran (one of Burt’s lady conquests) so eloquently points out in the movie, “Old men need love too” so much for role models.

This film is rated PG-13. There are about a dozen curse words, not to mention other colorful New Zealand slangs, as well as four occasions where “Jesus” and “g*d” are rendered. The curse words aren’t as terrible as some other PG-13 movies I’ve recently viewed, but I felt that this film was really targeted for family viewing. So I was really disappointed in seeing the foul language pick up once old Burt landed in America.

Is it just me or has Hollywood really gone out on a limb recently with all these movies showcasing homosexuality, transexuality, bisexuality and asexuality? This story is supposedly set in 1962 and during his quest; Burt comes across some shady people including a transvestite who states, “I’m a boy” and “I am a woman.” What are children to make out of this? Did the real Burt Monroe actually cross paths with a transvestite in the early sixties or is Hollywood trying harder these days to indoctrinate our children?

This film had its moments, but in the end left me yearning for more substance. If I had young children I wouldn’t take them to see this movie because there’s too many mixed messages. Call me old fashion or just plain old, but I hold family pictures to a higher standard. This film isn’t horrible; it just falls short. Hopefully, families seeking wholesome entertainment will look elsewhere and not make their “offerings to the god of speed.”
My Ratings: Offensive / 3
—Albert Anthony Buonanno III, age 49