For reasons, I was once a student aide in a drivers’ education class. Before I was old enough to take it properly. I am old enough that what this meant was running the projector. (The State of California divided the class into drivers’ ed, which was preparation for the written test, and drivers’ training, which was the actual “in a car” part.) I may have watched this at the time, in between what we cheerfully called the “road pizza” movies. It was a long time ago, and there were a lot of movies in that class.
A young man narrated by Kurt Russell and played on camera by possibly Spencer Quinn tells us about his lifelong love of cars, starting from infancy and moving on through his teenage years and into growing up. Using a combination of experimental animation, live action, and classic Disney clips, they tell the story of a boy who, when the doctors slapped him on the back at birth, honked instead of crying.
There’s not a lot available about this short. It features one of the few on-camera appearances of Ward Kimball, who directed it. It’s dated—go on, put in that “women drivers” joke today—but at the time, it was definitely intended to appeal to Teh Youth. I mean, if nothing else, Kurt Russell was the studio’s teen idol at the time, if just barely a teen, and I frankly wonder if they had Russell go over the “hip youth language” and had him make sure it wasn’t too “how do you do fellow kids.”
I have never been a car person. I’ve got a friend who writes for Car & Driver, and more power to her, but it’s not my primary interest. I didn’t actually learn how to drive as a teenager—my sister didn’t have the option to take drivers’ training, even if the state were still offering it that year. But I do think this sort of thing is a nice change of pace from the road pizza movies. It’s got a lot of the basic, practical stuff, like how boring the DMV is and how frustrating it can be to buy a car.
This is a fun little short. Interesting visuals. Most of the jokes land. Kurt Russell does a decent job at keeping the interest level going. Even if it’s dated, and even if the computer technology is of a level my children don’t recognize, it remains entertaining, and it’s a good view of the pressure you can feel when you’re finally getting your license, which to this day is a right of passage for a lot of teenagers, even if I was old enough to drink before I could drive.