Movies by definition are a form of escape, and require a form of social contract called “Suspension of Disbelief.” Basically it means that I am willing to overlook the fact that these are actors on sets in order to believe that I am somehow watching an actual story unfold before my eyes. Suspension of disbelief can easily be shattered, however, by something like the presence of a low hanging boom mike or a continuity error. When this happens, you mentally leave the story and are forced back into the reality that this is just a movie.
Hollywood is particularly guilty of violating suspension of disbelief when it comes to cars, whether it is the Charger in Bullitt that loses no fewer than eight hubcaps, or in the case of my personal cinematic pet peeve, the car that is being driven while the transmission is in Park. The screengrab from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in the title image above illustrates this quite succinctly.
I was binge-watching the latest season of Atypical on Netflix over the weekend (a great show you should check out, BTW), and I noticed that this show is also guilty of this offense, with Doug Gardner (one of the lead characters) shown in several episodes driving his truck while it is in Park, as shown above.
I realize it is difficult for actors to get into character, emote for the camera, and remember their lines for multiple takes while simultaneously trying to drive a car with cameras and lights blocking their vision. So it is no surprise that filmmakers employ what is called a Process Trailer to film these scenes, like the one shown above. Obviously, since the car is not actually moving under its own power, it can be left in Park while being towed.
Free tip for aspiring (or experienced) moviemakers: If you are filming a vehicle with a column shift, either remove the shifter lever or tie the car down and put it in Drive before filming.
So what is your automotive cinematic pet peeve?