A review of “The World's Fastest Indian” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ***

Rating: PG-13 for mild language and sexual references

Run Time: 2 hours, 7 minutes

 

 

The eccentric hero gets his time in the sun in this dramatic crowd-pleaser based on a true story.

Burt Munro (Anthony Hopkins) is a quirky old coot who makes offerings to the Gods of Speed and burns the midnight oil tinkering with the fastest motorcycle on earth.

Burt is the scourge of his New Zealand neighborhood but beloved by neighbor boy Thomas (Aaron Murphy) who believes in Burt’s relentlessly cheerful dream as much as the old man himself. The goal: to set the world’s land-speed record at Bonneville Flats, Utah or die trying.                                      The dramatic hurdles are daunting (heart disease, lack of cash, a burgeoning love affair) but with a dash of Kiwi luck the elderly Burt makes it to Utah a la a good old-fashioned road trip, suffering the inevitable indignities of the classic fish-out-of-water.

Nerve-racking snafus pepper the plot when Burt ultimately arrives at the Holy Grail of Speed. Burt is informed he isn’t properly registered for the race and then fails a mandatory tech inspection that proves how out of touch he really is.

At which point the needle on the feel-good meter snaps to attention, coating all with a narrative sweet-and-sour that’s difficult to resist. Hopkins’ theatrical glee is evident and director Roger Donaldson crafts his little-movie-that-could with an eye towards maximum inspiration.