Earth to Dave! (E2D!)

Musings from a warped mind…

An Earth to Dave! tribute to
STUNT MEN!

Filed under: Mindless Musings... — Earth to Dave! at 1:34 am on Monday, May 28, 2007

Recently I watched a movie that featured everything we guys like…car chases, explosions, high-tech special effects, and of course…romance (in case my wife reads this). I saw cars leap over bridges under construction, crash through barricades and…do the impossible: smoke the tires from a dead stop.

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I don’t know about you, but every car I’ve owned NEVER smoked the tires from a dead stop. Heck, I couldn’t even get them to squeal. What’s up with that? How do the detective guys get the 1978 Ford Fairlane to smoke their tires? And why are the bad guys always incredible drivers? Have you ever tried to turn your car 180 degrees while maintaining highway speed? I did. Once. I’m still paying for it in my insurance premiums. The worst part was the police interview:

Mister Police Guy: “Uh…okay, so you were going THIS direction (pointing one way), but then decided to immediately turn the OTHER direction (pointing the other way), without, uh….slowing down….or waiting for a road to turn on?”

Dave: “Uh huh”.

Mister Police Guy: “Okay…uh….why?”

Dave: Cuz Bo Duke could do it.

Mister Police Guy: “Yeah, but he had the General Lee. It was a souped up race car.”

Dave: “Yeah, well. I have the Private First Class Chevy Vega, and it has a race stripe on it.”

Mister Police Guy: “Okaaaay….but the General Lee could produce more power in ONE of it’s engine cylinders than your Vega’s engine EVER could”.

Dave: (blank stare)

Mister Police Guy: (blank stare back)

Dave: “Wasn’t Daisy Duke HOT?”

Mister Police Guy: “Yeah. Now turn around and put your hands behind your back.”

So, apparently there is more to doing the “full speed 180-degree turn thingy” than just going fast and cranking the wheel. Perhaps there’s…training involved. Perhaps “stunt men” know stuff that we Vega-driving non-stuntman losers don’t know. Nah. It’s probably just the car.

So how do those stunt men get their jobs? What qualifies a guy to do those wild-and-crazy death-defying stunts? Easy:

He’s gotta be nuts.

Now before you stunt men (oh yes! and stunt lady) people persons get worked up over this statement, observe the following video:

Now tell me this: who in their RIGHT MIND would COME UP with the idea of driving their car…an itty-bitty car…behind the jet engines of a 747 jumbo jet? Have you EVER considered doing such a thing? (Now before you go e-mailing me saying “Hey doofus, there was no driver of either car behind the 747!” stop and think: they WANT you to believe that! Why? Because of “PETS”–People for the Ethical Treatment of Stuntpersons”. But you and I both KNOW the insurance company would NEVER allow a car to be set loose with no driver! DUH!) So, who would willingly do such a thing? Has this conversation ever taken place among you and your friends?

Friend #1: “I’m bored. Whaddya want to do?”

You: “Uh…how about tipping over a sleeping cow?”

Friend #2: “That’s lame. We’ve done that every weekend for the past three years. Let’s do something CRAZY.”

You: “Okay. Um, like what?”

Friend #3: “I know! How about we squish into a microscopic-sized vehicle and drive behind the jet blast of a 747?”

You: “COOL! Let’s DO it!”

So it seems that there is a medically-based dysfunction that causes people to want to put their lives on the line doing “stunt work”. I believe the official medical term is “brainius damageous“.

Don’t get me wrong. I am thankful there are people out there who feel it necessary to jump off 60 story buildings, only to land on an over-sized whoopee cushion.

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This leads me to something I’ve always wondered: when the stunt man, er, LADY lands on the giant whoopee cushion, does it make a….well, you know…fart noise? Why do they always edit that out? Wouldn’t it really add to the movie to keep that noise in? After all, I think we all IMAGINE that to be the sound when a body hits the ground, don’t we? But, I digress…

Me? “I’ll take the elevator, thanks.” Without these brave souls, we’d have no movie action. Imagine what Hollywood could produce without stunt people:

>Robber robs bank, and takes off in his Ford Fairlane, obeying all speed limits.

>Police Officer “takes off” after the robber, making sure to use hand and turn signals when pulling into traffic.

>Robber stops at stop light, opens door, makes sure no traffic is coming, gets back in vehicle and slowly progresses through the intersection. A “car from nowhere” appears and swerves around the robber’s car at the very last second.

>Robber wets pants.

>Police officer reaches speed limit and bangs the dash board with his hand in frustration at not being able to catch the robber.

>GUN in police officer’s hand goes off as he bangs on the dash board.

>Police officer screams like a little girl because he has accidently shot himself in the groin.

>Robber reaches barricades marking the stereotypical “bridge out” hazard ahead. Robber stops, picks up barricade and gently places it aside. Robber gets back in car, places it in gear and, after carefully checking his rear view mirror, proceeds with caution toward the bridge under construction. Car inches it’s way over end of bridge, gently falling into water. Camera angle hides the fact the driver opened the door, stepped out and watches the car land into the water.

>Movie bombs and loses millions.

So it’s clear that the stunt men, er…uh…stunt PEOPLE (sheesh this political correctness thing can really bite you if you’re not careful) are the key to successful movie runs. How boring it would be without them. Imagine this: no jumping from rooftop to rooftop. No hanging off of helicopters or crashing power boats onto the beach and through snow cone stands.

Speaking of that, this is another question: if you bought a snow cone from one of those beach stands, and a boat comes crashing onto shore and right through the snow cone stand…would you still have to PAY for the snow cone, or would it be a freebie? Seems to me that the snow cone guy would be more worried about his busted up shack. Would he even want to deal with giving me change? Would he insist on the small change, seeing as how he’d have to finance building a new snow cone shack? Would he just tell me to get lost because his business was just ruined??? What if I wanted more strawberry syrup in my snow cone? (Cuz we all know the syrup runs out quickly, and all you have is crushed ice. You might as well have just gone to the crushed ice thingy in your freezer door!) I’ve always wondered all of this.

Anyway, the stunt PEOPLE must be trained. Where would you get your training? Would it be at one of those “institutes” that only advertises during working hours between “Judge Judy” and the “Montel Williams Show”?

Announcer: “Ever wanted to be a Movie Stunt Technician? Call ATT Tech today, and you’ll be on your way to a successful career sacrificing your body for the good of powerful money-hungry movie studios in weeks!” (Flash to a guy with his head bloodied and a bandage over his eye…half his teeth missing, thus unable to pronounce the letter “s”):

“I learned to be a movie th-tunt techni-th-ian at ATT Tech, and jutht yetherday loth moth of my teeth jumping acroth thom roofth. It’ll be in the movie!! THANKTH ATT TECH!!”

Regardless, the training must be something to watch. Typically, when someone TRAINS for a job, it means they do not currently have the skills required to perform their duties. What does this mean to a training STUNT PERSON?

Stunt teacher:“Okay, Hank. That was good, but next time, try to land ON the inflatable pillow! Medic??”

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Stunt teacher: “Gretchen, what were you thinking?? You were not supposed to let go of the helicopter skids until you were over the water! You came right through the roof of that duplex! Too bad we didn’t get that on TAPE!”

So next time you see a movie full of amazing stunts, remember that these people are PROFESSIONALLY-TRAINED…..crazy people. As the saying goes:

“Do not try this at home”.

(Unless you have a really large whoopee cushion (that makes great fart noises), and a life insurance policy to match).

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