In Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood, a trailer plays right before Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate watches the real Sharon Tate in her 1969 film, The Wrecking Crew in a theater. That trailer is for something called C.C. & Company, a movie starring former NFL quarterback Joe Namath as the motorcycle-riding title character. As soon as that trailer started playing before The Wrecking Crew, I knew that, yes, I must watch C.C. & Company. (Which, surprisingly, is readily available on Amazon Prime.)
Joe Namath had just won the first ever Super Bowl title for an AFL team, famously guaranteeing his Jets would beat the heavily favored Baltimore Colts. The next year, the Jets would go 10-4, win their division, but lose in the playoffs to the Kansas City Chiefs. So, did Joe Namath decide to devote his offseason to a rigorous training program in an effort to put the Jets back on top? Well, no, he instead decided to star in C.C. & Company. (That next season after filming C.C. & Company, Namath would break his wrist in the Jets’ fifth game of the season, the Jets would go on to a record of 4-10.)
Now, to put this in perspective, this would be like, today, Tom Brady deciding to star in a movie about biker gangs. And, yes, Brady has made film cameos. And, yes, LeBron James has had his share of cameos (Trainwreck) and is about to star in a Space Jam sequel, but at least that’s a movie about basketball and LeBron will be playing himself. C.C. & Company has nothing to do with football. This isn’t supposed to be Joe Namath! (Well, there’s one scene that puts this into question.) And, yes, it’s a pretty bad movie, but, admittedly I had a pretty great time watching it.
Namath plays C.C. Ryder, and right away we learn that C.C. is a man who plays by his own rules. How do we know this? Is there a big rough and tumble brawl where C.C. shows his dominance? Well, eventually there’s some fighting, but when we first meet C.C. he’s scamming his way into a free sandwich at a grocery story. He literally just goes into the grocery store, finds the bread and topping he desires, and eats the sandwich. Then he asks an employee about cupcakes. Literally, the first words we hear C.C. say are, “Excuse me, where are the cupcakes?”
I would love to have been in the pitch meeting for C.C. and Company. “Hey, look, people love Easy Rider. People love Joe Namath. Hear me out, what if Joe Namath plays … C.C. Ryder?” (At one point in C.C. & Company a character literally refers to C.C. as “Easy Rider.”)
After C.C. steals a sandwich and a cupcake, he heads down the road on his hog to his own personal theme song — that’s actually pretty catchy! “See, C.C. Ryder/See, what you have done now.” Are you ready to turn up your computer speakers and blast the C.C. & Company theme song? Of course, you are.
Not long after his sandwich theft, C.C. and two ruffians (who are both portrayed as less moral than C.C., but I didn’t see these two steal any sandwiches) come upon a broken-down limo, with a woman named Ann McCalley in the backseat, played by Ann-Margret. So, okay, now we have ourselves a movie! We’ve got Joe Namath. We’ve got Ann-Margret. Now we’re cooking!
It’s at this point C.C. & Company takes some, let’s say, strange turns. Now, the title of the movie might make a person think C.C. is the leader of his biker gang, but he is not. The leader is a man named Moon (yes) who isn’t too pleased with C.C. having a new lady friend. For the time being, C.C. and Moon put aside their differences so the gang can to what they do best, ride bikes and cause trouble. On their ride, the gang comes upon a motocross race (yes) and decide to enter the race on their choppers, which doesn’t go well.
So, now, for some reason, the rest of this movie becomes about motocross racing. C.C. needs a racing bike, so he steals one from a local dealership (technically he left the salesman $5 as a down payment, but I get the feeling C.C. isn’t going to make good on this transaction) and enters the race on a proper bike in an effort to win some prize money. (In a wink-wink scene that would fit in too well in 2019, C.C. is issued the number 12 for his bike as he’s told, “I hope it’s a lucky number for you.” Namath looks at the camera and gives us a knowing look. Does this mean C.C. is actually Joe Namath and this is just what Joe Namath does in his free time? The movie never fully explains this connection.)
And you probably won’t be too surprised to learn, in a movie like this, we get to watch the entire race – just a bunch of dudes and Joe Namath’s stunt double riding around and around a dirt track. It reminded me of the pod race during The Phantom Menace as in, “Oh, there’s a fourth lap, and we will be watching the whole thing. Okay then.” Poor C.C. crashes his bike, but drags it across the finish line on foot to take third in the race. Moon is unhappy about this, and later demands part of C.C.’s third place winnings. C.C. and Moon come to blows, with Moon getting the better of C.C. (What a sentence.)
C.C. and Moon decide to settle their differences as any two grown men would: a one-on-one motocross race. (I should mention, there’s a scene right before the final race of C.C. and Ann enjoying a night out on the town. They attend a concert performance of Wayne Cochran and the C.C. Riders. At no point is there any explanation why Wayne Cochran’s backing band has the same name as the main character in this movie.)
Anyway, yes, we get to watch the whole race, again. (“Oh, there’s yet another lap, all right then.”) As C.C. and Moon make their final dash for the finish line, Moon loses control of his bike, it bumps into a parked car, and of course the whole thing explodes. (I feel everything left from the non-Namath, Ann Margret salary part of the budget was used on this one scene.) But Moon isn’t giving up! After the race, Moon and the gang chase C.C. and Ann up a mountain road. C.C. tricks the gang to get off their bikes, then C.C. blows up the bikes, leaving his old gang stranded.
The film ends with C.C. and Ann, peacefully riding through the night. C.C., now in some hot water for the whole “blowing up his former gang’s bikes” event, tells Ann that he has to “split.” (I’ll give C.C. this much, he knows how to read a room.) Ann tells C.C. she wants to go with him. Do you know what this mean? Yes, it’s time to hear the C.C. Ryder theme song again. “See, C.C. Ryder/See, what you have done now.” The song is true, C.C. sure caused some trouble.
You know what, I’ve changed my mind. Tom Brady should totally make a movie about belonging to a biker gang, then having to win a motocross race against the gang’s leader, Moon. I’ll watch that movie right now. Hey, I’ll just say what everyone is thinking: It’s time to reboot C.C. & Company.
“See, C.C. Ryder/See, what you have done now…”
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