Comfortable and Furious

Over the Top (1987) : Part 2

Click here for the 80’s Action Review of Over The Top

Hey guy, do you like big trucks? Sure you do! What about arm wrestling? Crazy about it huh! Well, I’ve got the movie for you: Over the Top, starring Sylvester Stallone. With the same tact and skill that Gigli combines Baywatch and the mafia, this flick combines arm wrestling and 18-wheelers. But before we even get into all that, I want to dispel some common myths about truck driving. I actually worked as a long-haul trucker, so I’d like to shed a little light on some of the horse shit this movie tries to shovel. Enjoy.

Movie: The scene opens with Sly pushing his big rig through some of America ‘s most pristine landscapes. Alone with his thoughts, working for himself, and detached from society, some loose idea of freedom is expressed here. Here is a man who looks unchained, realized…happy. He is not bound by the same 9-5 hours like the rest of us working stiffs. Here is a man who lives by his own rules.

Fact: A trucker’s life is hardly anything like that: enslaved to the terminals that dictate loads, beholden to the shippers and receiver’s hours, whims, and demands. Stifled by fuel prices, inconvenienced by accidents and road closures, corralled into roadside truck stops with some of the most irreprehensible scum America has to offer. What the casinos and lot lizards won’t wrestle away from you, surcharges and maintenance fees will. It’s a sucker’s life. America is only seen through the interstate in brief glances. Time is money. Home is the inside of a rumbling beast racing towards nowhere, and before you know it, you won’t know what it’s like to eat a meal or fuck a woman you didn’t pay for.

Movie: Stallone and his fellow truck drivers are mostly ultra-buff macho men, beefcakes filled with hairy machismo, poised to stomp out pansies and become kings on greaseball mountain. They live by their own code and maintain an air of nobility and respect through it all. Anchored by the tenants of hard work and common sense, truckers are indeed worthy of admiration.

Fact: Truckers are largely a brotherhood of obese, old weaklings with chronic back pain who wouldn’t piss on each other if on fire, an ethos of grumpy, old dirtbags, disconnected from society. Spending 22 hours a day alone, they are conditioned to be ill-mannered control freaks, shouting obscenities at each other about parking spaces while perched inside their medal boxes. They largely just want to be left in their own filth to eat biscuits and hot dogs while listening to talk radio. Their blood pressure and IQ levels passed each other on the highway to erectile dysfunction years ago, and it’s too late to turn back now. The road has had a depressing, hypnotic effect over the years. Behind every curve is just more curves. Each hiss of the airbrakes becomes a subtle reminder that no one ever really loved you, ever. With all that said, now we can get to the movie!

Sly with moistened biceps and a can-do attitude, washes down his truck after making a load. He then tucks in his shirt, drives into his son’s military academy and demands custody of the boy, who is 12 years old and has never seen him before. The boy is released, and Sly is charged with transporting the little fella to his mom’s hospital bed. This will be the most important load of Sly’s life…and the little boy’s too.

It gets a little pedo-erotic at times. As the boy gets into the truck, there are dozens upon dozens of pictures of him everywhere. As far as the boy can tell, he’s inside a shrine of himself. The whole thing is very creepy and complex; the truck becomes a metaphor for a giant, comforting testicle. All the little boy’s pictures represent tiny sperm inside the humongous nad. This is about male-on-male bonding, father and son, inside the ball-sack, delivering the load to the mother, who waits patiently in her bed. Not to mention the truck probably actually smells like ball-sack, so there’s that.

The first place Sly takes the kid is into a bar, which is pretty responsible. They order some healthy food though because the kid is a real effeminate stick in the mud and worried about calories. The lil dude even wanted some sparkling spring water or some shit. I hope his military academy taught him about the don’t ask don’t tell laws.

Sly then has to arm-wrestle some guy named Smasher. It’s horrible. I never really thought about how dumb the whole arm-wrestling thing is: You grab onto a dude real tight, look him in the eyes, and then you both start sweating and grunting while others look on in excitement. I couldn’t think of anything I’d want to do less, except maybe drive a truck.

And to bond some more, he persuades the kid to sleep in the truck with him that night. By the way, Sly is the only long-haul trucker I ever saw ride around in a day-cab, which means that there is no sleeper in the back. Just him and the kid up front, sprawled all over each other, with the kid’s pictures everywhere, them smelling like nuts and steaming up the windows as the kid’s future SAT scores plummet.

By the way, the kid’s grandfather is like a millionaire who lives in a mansion, wants the kid educated, cultured, and healthy, but somehow is the bad guy because he wants to take the little guy away from Sly, who walked out on the kid years ago.

As they are in some seedy truck stop diner, Sly spots the most white-trash kid there, a Cleetus in a sleeveless jean jacket with a mullet just owning a fucking pinball machine. Sly goes over there and demands this inbred arm-wrestle his son. The mullet kid gladly agrees and talks some shit and they go at it right there on top the pinball machine. Mullet kid does the damn thing and slams Sly’s boy into failure, right where he belongs. Then, Sly and his crying, dejected kid have a father-son and the little dude goes back in and whips mullet guy twice in a row. So far, the kid has learned about failure, redemption, and scabies, all in one day. Father of the fucking year people.

But all that dicking around: setting up child arm-wrestling matches, working out, letting the kid drive, and other white trash nonsense, the kid’s mom dies in the hospital before the kid can get there to say goodbye. You had one job, Sly, one fucking job. So, the boy doesn’t get to see his mother off, and he realizes his dad is an epic fuck-up, so he goes back to live with his grandfather. The movie should have ended there.

But it didn’t. Sly’s white-trash gene kicked in, to overdrive! He takes his truck and smashes over grandpa’s iron gate, through his fountain, and straight into his mansion, knocking the door off its frame. Then, the cops come and take Sly away while he pleads for his son to come with him. The kid now has to watch his dad be cuffed and stuffed into a police cruiser after driving an 18-wheeler through his living room the day after his mom’s funeral. Kids love stuff like that.

Ding Dong, who ordered the truck?!

Sly is released from jail, contingent that he gives up the custody fight and let the loving, mega-rich grandfather raise the kid. The kid persuades Sly to take the deal, as the little guy starts to see him as we do: a good-natured buffoon of a man who has the wild idea of raising a child from the passenger seat of a day-cab, building a life together with gears and biceps as the bricks and ball-sweat as the mortar. It’s obvious, Sly won’t ever have time to park it, take a cab into NYC, and walk into the Metropolitan Museum of Art and marvel at the Georgia O’Keefe exhibit. He’s not that kind of guy. This is all for the best. The movie should have ended there, but it doesn’t.

Sly goes to Vegas for the word series of arm wrestling or whatever it’s called. He pawns his truck and puts all of the money on a 20/1 underdog, himself! Also, the winner of the competition gets a brand-new truck, which is convenient. The opposite of that would be giving away a free tax break to whomever has the prettiest sailboat. While warming up, the announcer’s voice beams from overhead, “This is a double-elimination tournament! In other words, if you lose, you still have another chance!” Wow, I thought double elimination meant something else. Thanks for clearing that up.

Then, for reasons unknown, the 12-year-old steals a truck, drives to the airport, catches a plane, flies to Vegas, and makes it to the arm-wrestling arena, just in time to be reminded again by the announcer, that this is a double elimination tournament. Ok, that’s called foreshadowing, and so is this: Sly uses his winnings to buy the Brooklyn Bridge and a beta-max factory.

While Sly is getting loose, we are reminded once again by the announcer that, “this is a double elimination tournament, which means if you lose once…you have to repeat the 5th grade.” Seriously movie? Seriously!? It’s baffling. I counted how many times they drive this point into the ground. It’s five. Five times they tell us. We get it. Five freaking times. That’s one more than four! Fucking Christ!

Sly’s main foe is a guy named Bull Hurley, a 300-pound, no-nonsense arm-wrestling god. Undefeated, which means he has never been defeated. Nobody ever beat him. He never lost an arm-wrestling game. To anyone. He always wins. He never loses. God this movie is making me dumber.

Sly, explaining his technique to the camera, in the way an eight-year-old talks to a goldfish, goes, “what I do is I take my hat and turn it around, it’s like a switch that goes on. I feel like a truck. Like a machine. So we get it: backwards hat Sly is an arm wrestling, truck machine. Frontwards hat Sly is a boy-cuddling, load-driving half-wit. Totally not the same guy.

Sly then loses a match or a game or a contest or whatever it’s called to a bearded guy named Grizzly, but guess what, it’s a double elimination tournament!! They tell us again, just so everybody is clear on that. The kid gives Sly some pep talk and then Sly is ready to go out there and win. For the championship he has to arm wrestle Bull Hurley, who has never been defeated. He’s undefeated. Sly beats him and all the dramatic music is going on and they give him the trophy, but that’s bullshit because, according to my calculations, that is the first time Bull Hurley has lost, and this is a DOUBLE ELIMINATION TOURNAMENT, which means you have to stand up, punch yourself in the dick and run head first into the fucking TV. Nothing here makes sense.

To top it off, Sly and his 12-year-old kid, who is smart as a whip, decide to start a trucking company together with the winnings. Glad to see the kid not wasting his potential. Father of the fucking year. I hate this movie. I’m actually glad my dad was m0stly an absentee father who really didn’t take any kind of active role in my life. Fucking Fuck this shit.

The reason I became a truck driver was because of Jack Burton in Big Trouble in Little China; they never hid from the fact that Jack was a gutter-dwelling scumbag who only cared about himself, and that trucking was an ignoble, silly way for an able-bodied man to make a living, but this fucking movie glorified it to the point of stupidity. I give it two glow plugs down.

See more about this Grizzly character here



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One response to “Over the Top (1987) : Part 2”

  1. Goat Avatar

    Simply, wonderful. We miss you, Chester…Wait, Double-Elimination, which means I get to say this 3 more times.

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