Six Pack (1982)
Review by Gnoll
I’ve learned a lot from Kenny Rogers. Thanks to him, I known when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, and I even know when to run. I learned that sometimes you have to fight to be a man. And I even learned that love will turn you around. Turn. You. Around. Before he did unspeakable acts on his face with chemicals and surgery, Kenny Rogers was a kind-hearted father figure who we could all look up to, or at least still look at without getting a shiver up our spines. And from what I understand, he makes a mean roasted chicken, although I’ve not had the pleasure of trying one.
Occasionally, Kenny stepped out of the musical spectrum for a moment to act in a film. Most of what he did was made-for-TV stuff like The Gambler and The Coward of the County, but those don’t really count as ventures outside of music because they’re entire movies based on a couple of his biggest hit songs. His biggest accomplishment as an actor came in a film alongside such rising stars as Diane Lane, Anthony Michael Hall, and Erin Gray.
In Six Pack, Kenny’s cinematic coup de grace, he plays Brewster Baker, a race car driver who apparently has two last names. As I was watching Talladega Nights, I was thinking that Ricky Bobby should trade off with Rogers’s character so that they could each have a first and a last name. Ricky Brewster and Bobby Baker? Or maybe Bobby Brewster and Ricky Baker? Neither really has that much of a ring to it, so I guess we’ll just let them have what they have.
Anyway, one fine day on his way to a big race, Brewster gets locked in a bathroom and finds his prized race car stripped of everything from the wheels to the engine block. Not too long afterward, he sees a Corvette gets the same treatment, so he chases after the perpetrators to find out that it’s just a bunch of kids — half a dozen, in fact — who can apparently rip a 400 pound V8 engine from a car in a matter of seconds. Before he can figure out what’s going on, he gets pistol-whipped and winds up in jail thanks to the same small-town sheriff you’ve seen in 300 other fish-out-of-water movies. But thankfully, the kids spring him from jail, and thus begins a wacky adventure complete with auto racing, line dancing, fist fights, and songs about moonshine. And of course, the whole thing culminates in a finale that takes place just fifteen miles south of where I sit and type this very sentence.
Six Pack was a favorite of mine when I was somewhere in the 7-10 year old range. It featured a lot of things I really liked at the time, including Kenny Rogers, fast cars, and Diane Lane, who I totally crushed on back in the day based on this film and The Outsiders. A quarter of a century later, I’m not so in to Kenny or racing anymore, but I still like the all-grown-up Lane. Regardless, it’s pretty creepy to see her 16-year old self trying to distract Terry “Weekend at Bernie’s” Kiser with her feminine wildes, and even creepier to see him reciprocating.
This was also the world’s introduction to Anthony Michael Hall, who would later go on to do every teen movie of the 1980s before aging ungracefully and winding up starring in a USA Network original series. None of the other kids went on to do much, but it is kind of cool to hear Chuck Woolery trying to feign a southern accent as an announcer.
Naturally, the movie doesn’t hold up as well as it did when the biggest source of stress in my life was the time I accidentally stepped on my Darth Vader action figure and his head popped off, but it’s still good for kitsch and the good old fashioned nostalgia quotient. In all, it’s a pretty family-friendly movie. Save for the trucker-mouthed Swifty, who tosses out more instances of the word “shit” than any twelve year old ever should, the most troublesome scene involves Brewster making out with a bloodhound.
In the early 1980s, hick was chic. Thanks to films like Urban Cowboy, TV shows like The Dukes of Hazzard, and the entire collaborative works of Burt Reynolds and Hal Needham, Six Pack managed to pull in over 20 million dollars at the box office, which would be a flop in 2007 dollars but wasn’t too shabby in 1982. I don’t know what it is about auto racing — I really don’t care for it, but the subject seems to have spawned quite a few movies I enjoy.