A strange movie indeed, King Car (Carro Rei) is a Portuguese language science fiction film that screened at 2021’s Fantasia Fest. A difficult film to stay invested in, Mother of Movies still found the film a fascinating ride into a Knight Rider-forward story. It all begins with Uno, who as a young boy, discovered he could understand and communicate with cars. His father coincidentally owns a Taxi-cab business so when Uno hears the old wrecks in the yard complaining about an upcoming law change, he decides to share his profound ability. The cars tell him they can help ensure their bodies are brought up to standard when the new law defines any car over 15 years old to be reduced to scrap metal.
Uno’s uncle is the type of character I could see someone like Nicholas Cage in. Instead, Matheus Nachtergaele embodies the strangely apish, gum-chewing mechanic Zé with about as much enthusiasm as the self-confessed A-list actor. Together they work with the cars and begin transforming them into futuristic models of their former selves. Zé even manages to come up with a contraption he later wears in a similar vein to a harmonica so that he too can hear the car’s thoughts and ideas. An empire slowly emerges as Kings Cars become the pinnacle of what was a company on death row.
Channel Your Inner Nicholas Cage
I was dubious that such as low-budget film would be able to pull off many of the lofty ideas that stem from a narrative like this. However, to give credit where credit is due, what the filmmakers do with the resources they have they do well. Sure, the designs aren’t within the visual realms of movies like Blade Runner or Minority Report but these cars do the trick in being a convincing rendition of a fancy talking car. Think more along the lines of toned-down versions of the car in Back to the Future or a shinier Mad Max vehicle.
Thematically, King Car wants to be all things to all people. There are moments between Uno and his girlfriend Amora about environmental issues like pollution, and sustaining plant life. A substantial amount of time is spent assuring the viewer that big corporations lead by crooked capitalist henchmen are the bane of all evil. And adding fuel to the equation is the idea of populist uprisings if the likes of a talking car army can be managed effectively. It’s this back and forth with so many subject points, that the film suffers under a barrage of confusion.
What King Car does right is honing in on the bizarre. Within the mosh-posh motifs of political points, it brings in a romantic thread. Uncle Zé’s hobbies allow for his pole dancing sidekick, appropriately named Mercedes (Jules Elting), to enter the story as a love interest for King Car’s prototype. Again taking liberties with Nicolas Cage in Willy’s Wonderland, I could only find amusement as Mercedes forms an attraction to the car with the most to say. There are two distinctly memorable scenes where some pinball machine action is taken between the two. What was even more amusing, was the conversation the two have afterward.
If Loving You Is Wrong, I Don’t Want to be Right
King Car: Was that your first time?
King Car: What that your first time with a machine?
Mercedes: No, (followed by giggles.)Quote from the science fiction film, King Car.
For cinephiles that love original, weird, and memorable movie experiences, I can only recommend seeing this delightfully ingenious film for yourself. Humans become machines and machines become humans in this surprisingly entertaining film about evolution gone wild. Aroma Filmes and Reel Suspects will be handling the worldwide distribution for King Car. Of course, Mother of Movies will be the first to give you a heads up, if the film appears somewhere accessible.
I give King Car
3.5 car’s that are not for sale out of 5
King Car aka Carro Rei 2021 Movie Review
Director: Renata Pinheiro.
Writers: Sergio Oliveira, Renata Pinheiro, Leo Pyrata
Starring: Okado do Canal, Jules Elting, Matheus Nachtergaele.