The hero of “Baby Driver” must wear sunglasses, to such a degree that he keeps two or three spare sets in his pockets at all times.
If that sounds like the kind of implausible notion that keeps you from liking movies, you are the wrong audience for this film. If you’re cool with it, you can revel in this pure, ridiculously entertaining exercise in style.
The entire movie appears to be writer-director Edgar Wright’s attempt to make sense of an enigmatic Simon and Garfunkel song called “Baby Driver.” The film is about a young man named Baby who is, in fact, a driver.
An excellent driver, in fact: We first meet him manically helming the getaway car after a bank robbery. A touch on the obsessive-compulsive side, Baby has timed the getaway to correspond to a particular song — in this case, “Bellbottoms” by the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.
There will be many more tunes along the way. This is a jukebox-heist-comedy-romance, and the wall-to-wall soundtrack is essential to its choreography.
Baby (played by Ansel Elgort, from “The Fault in Our Stars”) is paying off a debt to a crime kingpin named Doc (Kevin Spacey). If he drives the getaway car just a couple more times, he’ll be clear.
At this moment, Baby meets a waitress (Lily James) who doesn’t mind that he’s constantly got his earbuds in (he’s not rude, he has tinnitus). Her name is Debora, which means we need to hear at least two songs with that name in the title.
Baby’s attempt to keep Debora out of his criminal sideline gives “Baby Driver” its only grounding in anything like an emotion. The rest of the movie is fast, violent and absurd — and the driving is a blast, performed by stunt drivers, not digital effects.
The rogue’s gallery of accomplices includes Jamie Foxx as the fittingly-named Bats, and Jon Hamm and Eiza Gonzalez as a couple of lovestruck psychos.
That’s some impressive star power, and the actors are fun to watch. Oddly, they almost unbalance the movie, as they bring the A-list to a decidedly B-movie idea. Spacey, for instance, is doing a role he’s done a zillion times, and he seems over-qualified for the gig.
Otherwise, Wright (the maker of “Shaun of the Dead” and “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”) gets all the little details down, including a refreshing final sequence.
“Baby Driver” got overhyped after some film festival screenings earlier this year; it’s actually one of those movies that works best without high expectations. With those in place, pack an extra pair of shades and enjoy.
“Baby Driver” (3 stars)
A getaway driver (Ansel Elgort) meets a waitress (Lily James) and counts down to his last job — all choreographed to a constant jukebox soundtrack. Edgar Wright’s film is a ridiculously entertaining exercise in fast, violent style, almost overburdened by an A-list supporting cast of Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm.
Rating: R, for violence, language
Showing: Alderwood, Cinebarre, Everett Stadium, Galaxy Monroe, Marysville, Stanwood Cinemas, Pacific Place, Sundance Cinemas, Thorton Place Stadium, Woodinville, Cascade Mall