Sunday, July 02, 2017

BABY DRIVER: What's in a name?

What’s in a name? When it comes to Edgar Wright’s movies, a lot! I’m gonna go thru BABY DRIVER’s major and minor players and quick-ish-ly discuss the significance of their names, nick- and -real. Note that I may be using the word “significance” somewhat generously… =)
SPOILERS follow!


Well, I don’t think the significance is all that deep or mysterious on either name front for our wheelman. “Baby” describes his youth, his naiveté, and perhaps a degree of arrested development. “Miles” is a literal reference to his driving skills—miles of road covered—as well as a figurative one—a comparison of his talent behind the wheel to that of a certain jazz great on the horn. Given his mother’s pursuit of a singing career, I feel a pretty satisfying “click” at the thought of his being named after Miles Davis.


I feel like I’m missing something when it comes to connections for both names given to Baby’s girl. We do get a fun discussion and revelation of the significance of “Debora” in the realm of songs with one’s name. I imagine Edgar Wright’s been walking around with some late night discussions of these names and stats in his head since high school. Could it be that cross referencing those numbers with actual lovable songs might have been all the calculus needed to decide on her name?

And what about “Jonathan?” I feel like I may have missed a piece of a phrase in the exchange between Baby and Debora about her name tag. I think the punch line, as much as it was one, went something like—So, you’re the new Jonathan? Or maybe it was her telling him—I’m the Jonathan…? Frack. There’s gotta be another layer to this mix-up, right?


Baby’s foster dad. Did the movie reveal his full name at some point and I missed it? On paperwork somewhere in their apartment? Well, I didn’t pick up on a last name, so I’m just gonna tackle “Joseph,” and I gotta say, my take is a bit thin and simplistic. You can probably guess what it is—Who’s the most famous Joseph you can think of? And what is BABY DRIVER’s Joseph to Baby?
Yeah, it’s kind of a reach identifying Baby with Jesus, but if you do, then his Joseph does line up with the savior’s, right? Basically, Joseph is the man who steps in to raise a boy in place of his absent(ee) father.

Buddy—Jason Van Horn.

There’s a hilarious exchange between Bats, No-Nose, and J.D. about the disguises J.D. has picked up for the Perimeter armored car heist.
EDDIE NO-NOSE: Doc said Michael Myers!
JD: This *is* Mike Myers.
BATS: This should be the HALLOWEEN mask.
JD: This is a Halloween mask!
BATS: No—the killer dude from HALLOWEEN!
JD: Oh, you mean Jason…
This conversation by itself is a nugget of fried gold, but would you believe it’s even moreso for being a set-up for the revelation that Buddy’s real name is Jason? Jason, as in the FRIDAY THE 13TH killer who just won’t die and keeps coming back!
Also—Jason VAN HORN! =)
I love the simple punniness of it—van horn!—but wonder if there is some specific association with van horns I’m unaware of? Maybe a particularly British take or insight?

Darling—Monica Costello.

In the car after taking care of the Butcher & company, the crew presses each other about their names and Buddy explains that they only know each other by nicknames, codenames, monickers. With punny timing, Darling then reveals that her real name is Monica.
If I dig a little into “Monica” in a musical way, I find that it’s the title of a track on THE KINKS ARE THE VILLAGE GREEN PRESERVATION SOCIETY, which of course sets off my HOT FUZZ detector. The singer of the song proclaims his love for Monica, who is—altho the song never explicitly says so—the town prostitute. A rude but perhaps not unfair comparison to Darling’s character (if we take Bats’s “educated guess” to be fairly accurate), and a shameless declaration that seems to fit Buddy’s love for her.
Later, we find out her last name is Costello from a breaking news bulletin. Monica Costello… My mind always jumps to Abbott-and- but I don’t think that applies here. =)

Griff—short for Griffin.

We never get his real name, but that doesn’t matter so much here. We do get Griffin, as in the legendary eagle-lion mashup beast. Depending on the culture and time in which you ask, the Griffin is supposedly supernaturally wise and partial to golden treasure and testing humans with riddles.
Frack, am I confusing the Griffin with the Sphinx? Hrm…I’m gonna go with it. Please feel free to comment with a correction or confirmation.
After the first heist, Griff takes it upon himself to find out what makes Baby tick, believing his quiet and aloofness to be signs that he considers himself better than the rest of the crew. He explains to Baby—You can’t be in crime without being a little criminal…One day, you’re gonna get blood on your hands. He also comments on how Baby doesn’t seem to scare, saying something like—You’re either brave as shit or scared shitless…Which one is it?
Regardless of whether the name and significance of Griffin isn’t a perfect connect, he still plays a Cassandra-like Wrightian soothsayer in the shape of a bank robber.
I wish I could remember more/all of what he says to Baby, but I’d bet all of it is or comes true by the end of the film. Don’t forget what he says to the crew when he makes leaves them, stepping off the elevator…
GRIFF: If you don’t see me again, it’s because I’m dead.
That story will be an a-MA-zing extra on the dvd. =)
Huh…Damn, was there something about his death in a newspaper, TV news bulletin, or over the police band in the background later in the film?


I don’t think we get any clue as to his alter ego, if he has one. All we know is he’s a heist mastermind with impressive resources and a line on people with nasal troubles. We do see him sharing drinks w/Big Boi and Killer Mike at Bacchanalia… Hrm…Perhaps he’s an actual doctor? ENT to Atlanta’s entertainment elite? One who was once in love…I love that sentimental soft spot revealed when Debra enters. Just kinda ridiculously hard boiled romantically perfect. =)
Beyond choosing the name for being short for “Doctor,” a title which would, with those who don’t know him, instantly imbue him w/intelligence, precision, and authority, I don’t have a great connect for the nickname. Although Doc himself would not think it flattering at all, perhaps the best that comes to my mind is Doc of Snow White’s seven dwarfs. While his manner is not a match for Spacey’s Doc (although his apparent soft spot for Baby might be compared to the dwarf’s paternal treatment of Snow and the other dwarfs), he *is* considered the leader.

Bats—Leon Jefferson III.

Leon, for lion? Hrm…The batty lion, crazy king of the jungle? That certainly works. When we first meet him, he’s sporting that playing card King sweater. =)
Doc reveals Bats’s first name when Bats explains that the Atlanta PD are gonna need a Ouija board to Id them for their massacre at the farmer’s market. Doc tells him that won’t take long as his name is only four letters. Bats tries to be smart by saying “Bats” isn’t his real name and Doc hits back with something like “I know that, LEON.”
We get his full name in the same bulletin on the telly at Bo’s that gives us Darling’s. Leon Jefferson the third. I feel like I’ve found a great and fun Wrightian match/inspiration—Leon Jefferson Mohammed. That’s the name of the drug dealer played by Mykelti Williamson in the pilot of Michael Mann’s MIAMI VICE! I was a huge fan of the show, and I really wish I could say that I knew that name off the top of my head, but no, I’m just not that encyclopedic with my fanboy knowledge. I will say that I do still have dozens of eps on betamax tapes at my parents’ place. =)
Also, Jamie Foxx played Tubbs in the big screen MIAMI VICE.

Eddie No-Nose—formerly Eddie the Nose.

Do not ask what happened to Eddie’s nose. That’s a No-Nose no-no, page 1.

J.D.—He puts the “Asian” in “home invasion.”

I didn’t catch any hint as to his real name. Maybe J.D. as his nickname is a technical/filmmaking reference, like R2-D2? Perhaps specific to something or someone disposable or temporary? Or maybe it’s a clue as to his fate, for when or if he’s ever discovered, post-sunset, whatever’s left of him would surely be tagged as a John Doe, right? I feel like it’s a long shot that it would connect to “James Dean,” dying so young in his car…?

The Butcher—never get his name, but the actor? OMG! Paul freakin’ Williams! =)

Crazy amazing casting and a damn impressive delivery of a pig-themed bad cop sales pitch! Perhaps PHANTOM holds a special place in Wright’s heart? I know it does in mine. Or perhaps it’s the man’s extensive and inspiring musical oeuvre as a whole. Did he write any of the songs that appear in the movie? In any case, a joyous experience seeing him in the BABY DRIVER world, if only for a short and final time.
And…that’s all I’ve got. This time, at least. I took a first crack at BABY DRIVER names in an earlier post. The rambling in this post (above) is an updated version of those thoughts.
All you need is one killer track!~
Keep on keepin’ on~

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