Low Octane Thrills


4-Cylinder 400 (2004) Review 5
Director:Harlo BrayJohn FinnGarret Savage,
Starring:Jonathan LaFever and other small town folk
Length:23 minutes


In Bovina Center, NY, Jonathan LaFever has won the Annual Barnyard Car Race for four years straight. “4-Cylinder 400” is the story of his attempt to make it five.

Shot in miniDV format and directed by Harlo Bray, John Finn, and Garret Savage, “4-Cylinder 400” is an entertaining short documentary about a small town tradition. A personal labor of love for co-director and producer John Finn, this is a film that is a lot of fun mainly because the folk featured within it are having such a great time. Rarely are documentaries about good times, rather, most of the documentaries I review these days tend to focus on bad things.

The Barnyard Car Race featured in this film might be a lot of great fun but clean it ain’t. The racers in this race are local boys some of which have car repair training. The vehicles used in the race are cobbled together from junk yards and must be purchased and built on a tiny budget. In addition, the cars must have no larger than a 4 cylinder engine. Part of the challenge faced by the racers is just to finish the race in vehicles that have no business running in the first place.

“4-Cylinder 400” follows several racers as they locate their chariots and build them for the big race. Along the way, they curse, chase women, and drink (even when they are racing). The race itself is captured well and is even exciting in places as we root for our favorite 4 cylinder speedster.

“4-Cylinder 400” is a charming film that proves to be loads of fun.