My Summers at the Movies: The Italian Job (2003)
My Summers at the Movies is a personal look back through ten summer films that mean a lot to me. I’m going to tell the stories of growing up in the cool air conditioned movie houses of South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee. I love the summer movie season, and these are the 10 reasons why. The movies are not so much about the spectacle, but the communally shared experience and they way they influence our lives. A new post will be up every few days until I’ve posted 10 films that defined my summers at the movies. The posts are in chronological order.
One movie introduced me to classic Michael Caine, Mos Def’s music by way of liking Mos Def, and a car I wanted for a very long time. But I might never have seen this film if I hadn’t passed my driver’s exam and subsequently got to take my first solo drive. Passing the driver’s exam stands far above every other text taken in my life. I passed a bunch, failed a few, but the importance of adding driving to my life cannot be understated.
I’ve often thought of how much my life would have sucked in the horse and carriage days. To say I was “stuck” at home prior to turning sixteen undersells the “confinement” of the experience. My single focus was to get out at all times and at age 15 when I got my first taxed job, I set my eyes on a car. With not much hope, my boss offered me a beater parked outside of our catering facility for a simple $50 bucks. The idea was that I would have wheels and the car would get off the lot. It was an 89 Mitsubishi Galant, and it was my piece of junk.
The first time I took my driver’s test I was physically nervous. I was shaking in my seat and my palms were sweaty. My instructor told me to turn a certain direction on the course and I misunderstood. In my haste and nerves, I pulled onto the wrong side of the course. He failed me. There was a rule stating that I could take the test the next day, and I did. This time, I passed without any issues. I’m sure I told one or two people about this, but I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’m opening that failure to anyone who cares to listen. Due to the overwhelming pressure I put on driving at that time, I held onto that secret as if it were nuclear codes. I realize now that it doesn’t matter. I got my license the next day. My wheels turned and I took my first solo drive as soon as I got home. Where do you think I went first? The movies.
The first film I saw as a driver was 2003’s remake of The Italian Job. Mark Wahlberg’s attempt to remake Michael Caine’s 1969 film works well enough as an entertaining distraction. Wahlberg and his supporting cast have charm to spare, and the Mini Coopers are cooler than ever as they zip through Los Angeles. At that moment, their freedom and speed on screen felt like a perfect representation of how I felt with my new license. It’s taken me until this year to finally let go of my desire for a Cooper of my own (I’ve suddenly become obsessed with another brand of car for no apparent reason).
The Italian Job was the beginning of my self-sufficient movie watching. My first film I brought myself to and the first film my car drove me to. The last film was Blade III, and I still swear that movie killed my car. But it was a fun opening chapter to the countless movies to which I’ve driven. Had The Italian Job not been such a stepping stone for me, I don’t know if I would remember it with as much fondness. But as it is, I had the DVD and think of that film every now and then at the beginning of summer. My birthday hits around the kickoff of summer movies, and it kicks of a nostalgic memory of the first movie after I got my driver’s license.