You will note: one of these men is the screenwriter of CHINATOWN and THE LAST DETAIL. The other one is Tom Cruise. Extra bonus: the "76" car up there says "Die Hard" on the side of it. Fine by me.
DAYS OF THUNDER subscribes to the genre of movie (TOP GUN, COCKTAIL, RISKY BUSINESS, THE COLOR OF MONEY) where Tom Cruise engages in a flashy and specialized activity (jet-flyin', cocktail-makin', pimpin', pool-hustlin'), works with a mentor (Tom Skerrit, Bryan Brown, Joe Pantoliano?-admittedly a stretch, Paul Newman) gets the girl (Kelly McGillis, Kelly Lynch, Rebecca De Mornay, Mary Elizabeth Mastrontonio), loses the girl, gets the girl back again, and triumphs over all. To fill in the ingredients of DAYS OF THUNDER, we have: Nascar-racin', Robert Duvall, and Nicole Kidman.
It's designed as a high-octane Tony Scott thrill ride where we cheer on our bad-boy hero who dips his hat low over his eyes, cause he's cool like that and quite the bad boy:
but upon watching it today, you can't help but root for Michael Rooker the whole time. Michael Rooker (character-actor extraordinaire and veteran of HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER, THE WALKING DEAD, SLITHER, JFK, CLIFFHANGER, MISSISSIPPI BURNING, RENT-A-COP, and THE DARK HALF)
plays a rival driver who eventually becomes a sidekick to Cruise, but his natural pathos and inspired acting choices contrast so severely with Cruise's tiny-whiny-bad-boy demeanor that you have no choice but to think of him as the true protagonist of the film. Also, Rooker's character name is "Rowdy Burns" and for the record, I have never disliked anyone named Rowdy.
At one point, after they're both injured in a wreck, Rooker and Cruise have an epic wheelchair race (to their orderlies' dismay) that just might be the highlight of the film.
Furthermore, Rooker's wife is played by Junta Juleil favorite Caroline Williams (THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2, ALAMO BAY, THE LEGEND OF BILLIE JEAN, STEPFATHER II: MAKE ROOM FOR DADDY, LEPRECHAUN 3) who still remains one of Texas' best exports.
Seen here a little more morose than usual.
In closing, I will rattle off three disjointed observations:
#1. I love it when Randy Quaid says that we look like monkeys fucking a football.
Also, there is so much "1990" happening in that picture, that I feel as if staring at it and meditating (á la SOMEWHERE IN TIME) could in fact transport you back to 1990.
#3. Nicole Kidman plays an Australian medical doctor whom Tom Cruise mistakes for a stripper. Later, Tom tries to buy Nicole's love (as in real life) by sending her a shitload of balloons, and– most importantly– a stuffed kangaroo dressed in a doctor costume, you know, because she's a doctor from Australia.
And the best part is that... it works! Score one for 'Merica.