Judge Adam Arseneau insists that Smokey and the Bandit 3 is the best Burt-less movie ever made.
Three continents, eight days, 120 cars and 3,000 miles of mayhem.
Like The Gumball Rally, except with Tony Hawk in the driver seat instead of Raul Julia, 3000 Miles takes viewers into the world of million-dollar vehicles participating in a worldwide street race, filmed on location throughout Europe, Thailand, and the United States. Seeing a fusion of documentary-styled camerawork, exotic cars, and reckless abandon, not to mention Bam Margera in a Lamborghini, you might think hilarity would ensue. You might think a lot of things, what with free will and all.
Facts of the Case
Every year, ex-Armani model Maximillion Cooper and the wealthy elite from all over the world congregate in Europe for the Gumball Rally 3000, a quasi-legal open street race across the planet. Competitors can enter any vehicle they like, from a bathtub with wheels to a multi-million dollar street-legal machine, but considering the class of the competitors, most choose the latter. The six-day, 3,000-mile sojourn involves A-list celebrity parties every night, luxury hotels, tons of alcohol, and not much sleep for the weary travelers.
Inspired by the real-life Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, the American road race that inspired numerous feature films like Cannonball Run, The Gumball Rally, and, to a lesser extent, Smokey and the Bandit, the Gumball Rally 3000 preserves the spirit of these cross-country street races and the wild abandon, freedom, and borderline insanity they represent, but with a lot more money thrown around.
Recorded during the 2006 race and directed by founder Maximillion Cooper himself, 3000 Miles captures pro athletes/troublemakers extraordinaire Bam Margera (Viva La Bam!) and Ryan Dunn (Jackass) along with Ton Hawk, Mike Escamilla, and Mike Vallely in a travelogue of sorts, sticking cameras in the cars as the two teams race across Europe, Thailand, and the United States in a cross-country race, stopping along the way to jump off bridges into dirty rivers and skateboard on objects resembling half pipes.
Though such races were banned outright in the United States back in the 1970s due to road safety concerns, rallies like the Gumball 3000 occupy an amusing middle ground in European countries. On the one hand, the police plan ahead for the Rally further than the organizers themselves, staking out the race route with unmarked interceptors, helicopters, and all manner of police presence, ready to ticket the living hell out of any driver who dares exceed the speed limit, by which they mean all of them. Vehicles get confiscated, drivers get arrested, and all manner of fun ensues. On the other hand, excited crowds await drivers at every pit stop, with cameras and autograph pads at the ready, hoping to get a glimpse of a famous face, an exotic car, or both. Though it may be borderline, the Gumball is legal on paper, and that is enough for the participants to get drunk, drive fancy cars, and have a ripping good time.
Likewise, on paper, 3000 Miles sounds like a great time, mixing the Jackass guys in with Tony Hawk, expensive cars, exotic locals—a winning combination, yes? Even I figured this film would be fun. A weird mix of car fetishization and boredom, 3000 Miles is surprisingly dull. During its heyday, Jackass did an episode surrounding the Gumball Rally 3000, where the crews entered terrible cars to compete against the millionaires and set off to travel around Europe. Ironically, with the aforementioned now themselves millionaires, 3000 Miles revisits this previously explored subject, except with a longer running time and with better cars at their disposal. Frankly, spending an hour and a half watching other people drive really expensive cars through exotic landscapes is not nearly as exciting as it sounds. In fact, it is skull-numbingly tedious.
Ever want to see a 6,000-pound Rolls Royce Phantom wipe itself out at a hundred and sixty miles an hour? It is the best scene to be had in 3000 Miles and almost (but not quite) worth the cost of admission, if only to watch a cool million dollars crash and burn, literally. A few moments of genuine drama pop in and out, but these are fleeting things, like faeries from the olden times you catch out of the corner of your eyes. Bam and Ryan's purple Lamborghini annihilates itself during the Thailand leg of the race, losing the ability to go into reverse and eventually, forward. As Bam whines and cries like a rich kid not getting his way, they find themselves stranded in an unknown location in Bangkok, drowning their sorrows in beer and the puzzled glances of locals who speak no English. Now that's a travel story.
Ultimately, the film has little to offer outside of some surface fascination with being so wealthy as to be able to participate in such extravagances. Once you get over the excitement of the fancy cars, the famous people, you get a film that captures the thrill of driving in a car for twelve hours a day, for six days straight. Burt Reynolds made it look way more fun, let me tell you.
Shot mostly on handheld DV, the film has an amateurish look about it, cobbled together from various sources, cameras and perspectives. Depending on the sequence, the image quality varies greatly, but the film exhibits a thorough lack of definition and black levels. Color saturation, while acceptable in certain scenes, washes out terribly in others. On the audio perspective, both a stereo and a Dolby 5.1 surround track are selectable. Dialogue is clear for the most part, but is often garbled and distorted by the roar of car engines and other environmental effects. Bass response is thoroughly miserable, but the surround channel definitely opens up the rears for the soundtrack, a fantastic blend of retro lounge, jazz, bossa-nova, and dramatic hip-hop beats, like the Oceans Eleven soundtrack if RZA had scored it. Say what you want about the film, but this soundtrack alone almost makes this DVD worth a watch. It's like a porn-film soundtrack from the future tumbled back intime through a wormhole or something. Glorious stuff!
Here is a rare case when the supplementary features included in a DVD outshine the feature itself. In 3000 Miles's case, this probably speaks worse about the quality of the feature, but no matter. First, a nearly 30-minute video diary from Tony Hawk is surprisingly engaging, because Tony's just such a genuinely nice fellow. One gets a better perspective of life on the road in the Gumball from this supplement than the feature itself. A 20-minute sequence illustrates Bam's revenge against the jerk who messed up his Lambo (which feels more Jackass-esque than anything else so far, sure to delight the fans), a large impressive photo montage, and a few minutes of footage from the 3000 Miles premiere.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
An hour and a half with rich doofuses driving around in multi-million dollar cars, complaining about the length of the drive, and engaging in mindless banter and banal jokes? Envision Jackass stripped of all the comedy and stunts. It would take a special kind of masochist to enjoy this.
Though extremely interesting on paper, 3000 Miles has a razor-edge narrow target audience in practice. Jackass and sport fans will enjoy seeing Tony Hawk, Bam Margera, and company getting speeding tickets in every single European country and parts of Asia, but interest wanes after 15 minutes or so. Concurrently, anyone who really loves big expensive cars might also find moderate interest with all the automobile eye candy to ogle, again for about 15 minutes.
As for the rest of the running time, unless you fall neatly within these two categories, watching 3000 Miles will feel exactly like the title of 3000 Miles—a long, slow, and boring drive.
A frustratingly dull documentary with an amazing soundtrack, 3000 Miles runs out of gas quickly. At best, a cautious rental.
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