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Cruise Control 

Has any car received such blatant product placement in a movie as the Mini Cooper S in F. Gary Gray's remake of The Italian Job? Even more so than James Bond's Aston Martin (which makes a cameo here), the Mustang in Bullit, the Porsche in Risky Business, the Trans-Am in Smokey and the Bandit, or even the Volkswagen Beetle in Herbie the Love Bug, this little waterbug of a car dominates the landscape and action of this film starring Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron and Edward Norton.

I normally strike a masculine anti-corporate pose against this kind of blatant onscreen advertising, but when a car is this cute and the script so zinger-free, why not go with the ad? Gray clearly likes this sub-sub-compact, whose joke is not the dated dual race lines down the middle that must have been featured in the 1969 heist film starring Michael Caine, but that it can zip in and out of traffic, houses, sidewalks and sewers. And that, folks, is just about that. Don't bother yourself with a connect-the-dots, cliche-ridden plot about a bunch of honorable thieves who actually have a traitor in their midst. (Do we ever, during this heat wave of heist movies remember that these guys are actually breaking the law? Nah.)

And forget the complete lack of chemistry between chimpy-cute Wahlberg (now the remake king with this, Planet of the Apes and The Truth About Charlie) and Theron (who's like Grace Kelly without the screen presence). Or the limp comedy among the stoogier supporting characters such as Seth Green's computer geek and Mos Def's token-black demolitions expert. Just sit back behind the wheel, and zip around L.A. as this not-so-cool-and-the-gang tries to outwit its witless enemy (Norton, never less interesting).

Sometimes, there is truth in advertising.

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