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Movies, dining and things to do / Spokane and North Idaho

No need to rush to see ‘Rush’

I caught "Rush" over the weekend, Ron Howard's narrative look at the relationship — such as it was — between Formula One race drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda. And I had the following five-part reaction:

1, If you make a movie about race-car drivers, especially those who navigate the road circuits of Europe, you might want to include some actual racing scenes. Say, the kind that you'll find in "Grand Prix," "Le Mans" or even the doumentary "Senna." Just using a bunch of quick-cut imagery is just an opportunity lost.

2, Chris Hemsworth is, even to this straight man, a pure hunk. "Thor," indeed.

3, If a movie is supposed to document the relationship between two people, you really need to show the basis for that relationship. Even the movie shows that Hunt and Lauda were never actual friends. At best, they had a kind of grudging respect for each other. So, we're supposed to believe, it was only the competition, the need to outdo each other, that fueled their rivalry. Even for guys who were so diametrically opposed in temperament and appearance, that's a fairly thin basis for a movie.

4, In a narrative voiceover at the film's end, Lauda (played by Daniel Bruhl) explains how he'd always admired Hunt, from the time they knew each other in Formula Three racing. Yet the movie never really shows how this worked. According to the movie, it was mutual antipathy from the beginning, Lauda resenting Hunt for being the playboy who chose to party rather than actually work at his trade, Hunt resenting the nerdy Lauda for buying his way into the racing game.

5, Racing isn't something you just decide to do. It's a hard trade, something that takes talent, desire, dedication and hard work. Even obsession, not to mention connections that lead to funding. Neither Hunt nor Lauda came from a racing tradition, yet "Rush" — except on the most basic level — fails to show just how and why each wanted to become a racer. A little more context would have helped.

I did like some of the cinematography. And Hemsworth is an eyeful. Overall, though, for me, "Rush" is distinctly a so-so experience.