A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that although it's a documentary, many kids will be interested in this story of an annual off-road motor race along Mexico's Baja peninsula. Filled with swooping camera angles, race action and, yes, dust, there are no villains in this telling, just noble competitors, and for most of them winning is secondary to the thrill of just being in the race itself. There is brief profanity, and we hear about some fatalities (although we do not see them). The film does make it clear that the sport is dangerous and not easy. Strong messages include the volunteer efforts behind putting the race together and the selflessness of the participants. Also worth noting are the family relationships strengthened by the contest. Some teams are fathers and sons; others are brothers, and one team, the only females depicted at length, are racing wives and mothers who have gotten together in a team of their own.
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What's the story?
DUST TO GLORY captures the excitement of the Baja 1000, a largely off-road motor race along Mexico's Baja Peninsula that goes nonstop for a thousand miles through rocks, cacti, and infamous silt-dust paths. The race is open to four-wheel and two-wheel racers of all kinds, from NASCAR vets to motocross champs. The film introduces a few of the star competitors up front, like Mike "Mouse" McCoy, a cyclist trying to carry off the rare feat of doing the entire route solo. Dust also turns up human-interest material, like local charities that benefit from the race. An outcast Mexican amputee who went to live alone in the wastelands by the route is now a beloved mascot-figure to the racers. Many race organizers pitch in for free, like Bob Steinberger, who coordinates communications using his own antenna station on a nearby peak. The film captures numerous breakdowns, a couple crackups (one wipeout is caused by the filmmakers' helicopter overhead!), and a tribute to a driver who was killed in a previous race. One spectator does perish (offscreen) here, and some of the drivers who cross the finish line look like they've been through the wringer.
Is it any good?
Filmmaker Dana Brown, who narrates whenever the thundering soundtrack music dies down, has created an entertaining race documentary. He uses a vast array of cameras swooping around in the air and on the ground. Some noteworthy entrants are not introduced until well after the race has begin, which takes an edge off the forward momentum but certainly saves the viewer without a program-guide a lot of memorization; there are literally hundreds of racers.
The film has strong message, one of family relationships strengthened by the race. Some of the teams are fathers and sons; others are brothers, and one team, the only females depicted at length, are racing wives and mothers who have gotten together in a team of their own. It's worth noting that filmmaker Brown's own parent Bruce made his name as an extreme-sports documentarian with surf and cycle movies that were huge hits a generation ago, like On Any Sunday.
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: April 1, 2005
- On DVD or streaming: August 23, 2005
- Cast: James Garner, Mario Andretti, Sal Fish
- Director: Dana Brown
- Studio: IFC Entertainment
- Genre: Documentary
- Topics: Cars and Trucks, Sports and Martial Arts
- Run time: 97 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: racing action and peril, and for some language
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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