I have long conversations with my Mini Cooper. Don’t tell anybody. I have a dark green one, with white roof and mirrors. It cuts a dashing figure on the freeway. People point.
Because it is a Cooper S, it has a hood scoop. Combined with the grill, it’s a face. So we talk. At first it was the usual stuff — national debt, Lady Gaga vs. Madonna, the price of oil — but soon it drifted to his obsession with the movies, where it remains today. Specifically, he wants in. He demands to know why I don’t submit him for auditions. He saw “Cars,” and that was it. Now he wants professional headshots and a theatrical agent.
For instance, “Drive” is coming out, starring Ryan Gosling as a mob getaway driver. “I could have played that with my headlights closed,” my Mini complained. I had to explain that Gosling’s rig is a wicked black Mustang, which qualifies as a muscle car even though its pecs aren’t as puffy as a Chevy Camaro’s, or a Dodge Challenger’s.
My Mini would have none of it. You know actors. So I had to sit him down for a little history lesson.
In 1968 there was Steve McQueen in “Bullitt,” the all-time award winner in the Best Smoking Hot Chase category, using a Mustang V8. Gene Hackman commandeered a Pontiac LeMans in the 1971 Best Picture winner “The French Connection,” but that car was dirty and beat-up and lacked glamour, even though the famous chase scene is righteous and riveting.
My Mini thinks he has larger-than-life mojo. I shut him up with one word: Batmobile. That fixture from the “Batman” series certainly takes the Best Superhero Chariot category. It could come up from behind my Mini and devour it, spitting its bones out the gas pipe.
My Mini likes to brag about all his features — hidden glove box, secret arm rest compartment, toggle-style switches — so then I had to remind him about James Bond.
Bond drove many vehicles over the years, but is perhaps best known for his Aston Martin. That car wins Best Gadgetry, because over the years in various models it had missiles coming out of the front bumper, armor plating, spike-producing tires and a passenger-ejector seat, which my Mini expressed interest in, wondering if it could be installed in his driver’s side seat.
By now, my Mini was getting a little depressed. I don’t like to dampen anyone’s dreams, but …
“Gone in 60 Seconds” takes the Best Remake category. The 2000 re-do of the 1974 action film, starring Nicolas Cage, was goofy and forgettable. But there was a neat Shelby GT500 featured, and it jumped over a traffic jam on a bridge. The stunt was preposterous, but it was the only indelible image from the film.
In the Best Animated category, the cars of “Cars” remind me the most of my Mini. In fact, if there were any project I would submit my Mini for, it would be a “Cars” movie. Of course, it would be a small part, just a line or two. I think my Mini might even consider extra work, just to be around the other more famous autos. I wouldn’t be surprised if my Mini initiated a tryst with a producer.
There are plenty of other nominees. Remember the DeLorean in “Back to the Future”? That was a four-wheeled wonder: Best Time-Barrier smasher. Herbie from “The Love Bug” and its sequels? Mr. Congeniality. The ambulance from “Ghostbusters”? The Humanitas Award.
But the one that really stung my Mini was “The Italian Job,” both the 1969 original and the 2003 sequels. Loaded with Minis. My car watched those chase scenes and saw nothing but a boulevard of broken dreams.
Maybe I’ll take my Mini out on the freeway for a spin, just to work off some frustration.
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Michael Ventre is a frequent contributor to TODAY.com.