|Sunday Driver (2005)
Director: Carol Strong
Although you probably haven’t seen one in real life unless you live in a major metropolitan city, thanks to any number of movies, you’re probably aware of the species of car known as the low rider. What makes these cars different from the ordinary is that their suspensions have been dramatically altered – usually with the assistance of hydraulics – so that the height of the vehicle can be adjusted at the driver’s discretion. You know what I’m talking about: you hear the stereo pumping, you brace yourself as the volume increases, and suddenly there’s a car beside you, bouncing up and down like it’s got a giant Slinky under each tire. That’s a low rider.
Produced by Rock Star Games, best known for the “Grand Theft Auto” videogames, and released by Palm Pictures, “Sunday Driver” is a no-holds-barred look at the low rider subculture. Helmed by first-time director Carol Strong, the film follows the car club known as the Majestics, based in Compton (a suburb of Los Angeles, in case you’re not an N.W.A. fan) and one of the oldest clubs in the country; Strong scored unprecedented access to the members, getting decidedly unedited and uncensored comments about their cars and their lifestyle.
It’s obvious that the Majestics are dedicated to the craft of making their cars the best that they can be, and everyone gladly speaks of what good people their fellow members are and how many friends they’ve made through the club…and, yet, many of them freely acknowledge that many of them are former gang members (the Crips, generally). As such, it’s not entirely surprising that the cops are constantly harassing them when the group gets together to show off their prized possessions. And what possessions they are; for all the focus that the hydraulics of these cars may receive, the outside of these vehicles is equally as impressive as what’s inside or underneath.
The soundtrack, which includes “California Love,” by Dr. Dre and 2Pac, as well as the Temptations, the Dramatics, and Booker T. and the MGs, among others, will keep you bouncing almost – but not quite – as much as the cars on the screen. A word of warning: if you’re easily jarred by the repeated use of the epithet “motherfucker” or quickly bored when the rhetorical query “ya know what I’m sayin’” is uttered over and over and over again, you’ll want to stay far, far away from this film…unless you want to drink every time you hear anyone say either phrase, in which case it’s an easy way to get drunk off your ass within about 15 minutes.
Ultimately, however, “Sunday Driver” is a film for automobile enthusiasts; it’s fascinating to a degree, but it’s a slow ride; most viewers will find themselves losing interest at several points during the proceedings, and that’s not exactly something you look for in a documentary. The passion is undeniable, but unless you share it, the novelty will wear off before the end arrives.
There are lots of deleted scenes to be had, as well as clips which update the whereabouts and goings-on of many of those interviewed during the film, a slideshow, and some behind-the-scenes clips. There are also trailers for other Palm Pictures releases, but that’s a given, really.