The two best movies I’ve seen recently, Frozen River and Wendy and Lucy, are great films because the directors and actors have great skills telling stories. Both films also feature important cameo appearances by two unheralded cars. A Dodge Spirit (circa 1990-1995) is the car of choice in Frozen River. A 1988 Honda Accord has a serious, but unspoken part (of course), in Wendy and Lucy.In Frozen River, defunct Dodge Spirit is used in the transport of illegal immigrants smuggled across the U.S.-Canadian border in the film that earned leading actress Melissa Leo a best actress nomination.
Frozen River features the story of Ray Eddy, an upstate New York trailer mom lured into illegal immigrant smuggling when she meets a Mohawk girl who lives on a reservation that straddles the U.S.-Canadian border.
Broke after her husband leaves with the down payment for their new doublewide trailer, Ray teams with Lila, a smuggler. The two begin making runs across the frozen St. Lawrence River carrying illegal Chinese and Pakistani immigrants in the trunk of Ray’s Dodge Spirit. The reason the two use a Dodge Spirit is because it has big, deep trunk.
In Wendy and Lucy, leading actress Michelle Williams lives in her 1988 Honda Accord. But as she make her way across the country en route to Alaska, the Honda Accord breaks down in a small Oregon town — and that’s when the plot of the movie begins.
It’s unlikely either General Motors or Honda is seeking the kind of publicity the manufacturers are getting in the respective movies. But it’s also a perfect example of the axiom: “all publicity is good publicity.”