There’s a lot to like about Baby Driver. It’s impeccably shot and edited, the music is very good, the characters in the movie are all very cool, and it features the best car chase scenes in years. What I liked the most about it though is how the movie rejects any and all forms of irony within it.
The word “ironic” is thrown around a lot in pop culture recently. Ironic detachment is seen as cool, being into things for the sake of “the irony of it” is valued above being honest and making an earnest attempt to think or feel things earnestly. In a 2014 episode of WTF Marc Maron described partaking in ironic detachment as follows:
“Is that your disposition? Is that your excuse for not committing to your emotional reaction to it? Is an ironic disposition another form of cowardice that just enables you to repress your emotions? Or not have them? Or do whatever you think the rest of the people are doing?”
And the fact is that ironic detachment has been used as an excuse to be into things halfheartedly, with no stakes, with no effort. Baby Driver is a rejection of all these things.
If you come to Baby Driver with an ironic detachment, you’ll miss the movie. It’s easy to mock the movie. The music never stops, the criminals are designed like comic book bad guys come to life, the love is too sappy, the cars don’t always make the right noise, there’s no way Chevy Avalanche could do that and a person in a helicopter can tell the difference between one car and the next. I mean, the guy’s name is Baby. B-A-B-Y Baby. If your takeaway from the movie is any of these kind of arguments (or others I didn’t say because I didn’t want to spoil more) I would most likely say you didn’t even try to see the movie.
I would argue that if you really, truly, genuinely watch the movie it’s impossible to watch this movie with an ironic detachment. Edgar Wright doesn’t let you. The man who through a brand of ironic detachment created one of the best zombie movies ever, one of the best cop movies ever, and one of the best comic book(graphic novel) movies ever employs none of it in this movie. From the very beginning of Baby Driver to the very end, Wright is trying his best to entertain the viewer. To show them something they’ve never seen before, to make them feel joy and sadness and love. Through simple human interactions, through unabashedly sappy love scenes, and straight up edge of your seat action. The humor in this movie isn’t “meta”. There’s nothing tongue in cheek in this movie. Edgar Wright made a movie that has heart all over the place. The earnestness of the whole thing just kept hitting me in the face and I felt myself sincerely reacting to the movie. I was on the edge of my seat, I was worried for our protagonist and his lover, I was moved by the music. The coolness of the movie is found in the fact that a cast and a director came together to tell a story that is fun and it doesn’t need to go beyond that.
It’s gauche to want people to like something you’ve made, especially in this era where irony and hipness seem to be more popular than honesty and emotion. I believe Edgar Wright and all the people involved in this movie unironically wants the viewer to like it. I love this movie.
This post is a part of The Irrelevant's week to celebrate Edgar Wright's "Baby Driver"