The closer I put my ear to the tracks, the more convinced I am that Robert Zemeckis‘s Flight (Paramount, 11.2) is going to be the shit when it opens less than six weeks hence, and more precisely after it closes the New York Film Festival on Sunday, 10.14. The trailer tells you it’ll be a smart, above-average situational drama about a commercial pilot with an alcoholic history who saves a planeload of passengers from death despite being half in the bag. Or perhaps on some level because of this condition.
I don’t know the Flight particulars and I haven’t read John Gatins‘ screenplay. But I’m getting the feeling from the trailer and from what I’m hearing that Denzel’s condition when he saves his plane from crashing is what saves the day. If he’d been 100% sober he might not have rolled the plane over and landed it upside down. But even if this isn’t what the film says, I’m thinking that this principle applies to some extent to car driving.
If you’re driving your Lexus drunk your reaction time is slower than if you’re cold sober, and if you’re really stinko you’re definitely a menace to all humanity. But drunk or semi-drunk driving isn’t all bad, and sometimes it works. Or at least it did for me.
I know, I know — did I just say that? In today’s world DUI is a felony punishable by huge fines and jail time in some cases, and rightly so. But in the ’70s tens of thousands of people drove from place to place every night with a buzz-on and in some cases plain shitfaced, and some awful things resulted, I’m sure. But quite often, probably the vast majority of times, drunks just drove home and parked their cars and watched a little TV and went to sleep and all was well.
May God forgive me but in my early drinking days when I lived in Wilton and Westport, Connecticut, I drove late at night with several beers and/or Jack Daniels on the rocks in my system, and I just cruised on through, and I mean weekend after weekend after weekend after weekend. No accidents, no fender benders, nothing. Others plowed their cars into ponds and trees and guard-rails, but not me. There were times, in fact, when I drove down those winding country roads at high speeds and I would focus like a motherfucker, and I was convinced at times that I was driving like Paul Newman at Lime Rock.
I started to tell myself, in fact, that I drove better when half-bombed because I was less intimidated by the possibility of something going wrong. I drove without fear, without hesitation. I took those hairpin turns like a champ.
In short, if you’re as good a driver as I was and you’re not flat-out wasted, driving with booze in your system isn’t such a bad thing. Or at least it doesn’t need to be. Would I drive drunk now? No. I stopped drinking last March and I’m not an asshole. I’m just saying that I got away with it for years, and…well, I’ve said it.