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2 Movies 1 Moment: A Flat Tire

A flat tire is something most of us are familiar with, and the movies sure make good use of the troublesome situation in a lot of films, from comedy to drama and everything in-between. Here are two great movies moments when a flat tire had great significance on the story.

Groundhog Day (1993)

Directed by Harold Ramis   Stars: Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell

What it’s About

Phil (Bill Murray) has been sent to the town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to report the annual emergence of Phil, the groundhog, from his hole on Groundhog Day to determine when spring will arrive. While there, the news crew that came with Phil get stuck in town due to a terrible blizzard. When Phil wakes up the next morning to go home, he comes to the realization that it’s Groundhog Day again and, for some reason, he’s doomed to repeat the day over and over again…

The Flat Tire Moment

On one of the innumerable Groundhog Days, many days after the first Groundhog Day, Phil delivers his umpteenth Groundhog Day newscast and quotes Chekov, saying, “…we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. But standing here among the people of Punxsutawney and basking in the warmth of their hearths and hearts, I couldn’t imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter.” When Rita (Andie MacDowell) speaks to Phil afterwards she says that she’s really surprised and asks him to have coffee with her but Phil tells her that he has errands to run. Next thing we see is Phil running down a sidewalk to catch a boy falling from a tree. He yells after the boy that he’s never thanked him as the boy runs away. Next we see a car driving down the street on a flat tire with three elderly women inside. All of a sudden the car starts shaking violently and one of the women yells that it must be an earthquake. The camera angle shifts and we see that it’s Phil! He’s jacking up the car to change the tire. “He must be from the motor club,” one of the ladies says. This movie is all about figuring out what’s important and what’s important to Phil is to help three old ladies and a little kid. Classic.

Superman (1978)

Directed by Richard Donner   Stars: Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder

What it’s About

A boy from the lost planet of Krypton, is sent to Earth where he grows to be a superhero, defender of truth, justice, and the American way, learning to keep his identity secret while helping to defend the world’s people. 

The Flat Tire Moment

As the Kryptonian homeworld faces annihilation while its sun goes supernova, Jor-El (Marlon Brando), a leading scientist who discovered the planet’s coming doom, jettisons his son to the safety of space on a heading straight for Earth. The capsule hurdles toward the blue planet where it crashes near Smallville, Kansas, leaving a great burned and gutted trough in a field. Driving by are Ma and Pa Kent (Glenn Ford and Phyllis Thaxter) in their old pick-up and the impact of the ship causes their vehicle to blowout a back tire. They investigate the black swath of torn up ground and discover, much to their surprise, a naked toddler climbing out of the crater. Unsure who he is or where he comes from, Ma is sure the boy was sent from heaven while Pa remain a bit more skeptical. As they discuss the boy, Pa tends to the truck, jacking up the back end and removing the damaged tire. Suddenly though, the jack slips and the vehicle slams to the tarmac with a thud, narrowly crushing Pa. That’s when the Kent’s realize this found child is something unexpected and certainly not of this earth. The small boy grasps the rear chassis and lifts the truck’s back end straight into the air, smiling the entire time. The Kents are astonished and decide to take the boy home, a decision that alters both their lives but more importantly gives the boy the proper, wholesome upbringing that would later come to define him. It’s a pivotal moment for the Kent’s and the audience as the boy demonstrates right away the powers he will have on his new home. 

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