Prime product placement

When word first came out earlier this year that the Transformers toy line/cartoon show/comic series was getting turned into a movie, I frankly could not grasp what the fuss was about. I knew it had to do with toy robots that could "transform" themselves into cars or trucks or something but that whole deal arrived long after I was done playing with my Hot Wheels (and, yes, I still have those '70s models along with plenty of English-made Matchbox cars from the '60s-- and they're not for sale!) and well before I had kids of my own.

But thanks to the power of today's kid-marketing, my son the graduate (of kindergarten) knew all about the movie and long story short, that is who I sat next to last evening to view Transformers-- on its opening day no less. Well, in my defense, it was raining outside-- washing out our local fireworks display-- and the boy is six and won't be forever, so why not?

Without giving away any of the rather tortured plot, suffice it to say it is a computer-generated blockbuster that manages to among other things pretend there is no war on terror going on; make incredibly clever use of Hoover Dam; roll out the back-to-the-future Chevy Camaro; position (human) male lead Shia LaBeouf as the "next Tom Hanks" (so said one critic anyway); dissaude us from ever thinking again of Jon Voight as a critically acclaimed actor, and make a bigger star of the phenomenally fetching female lead, Megan Fox.

Ah, but yes, then there were the trucks. There was so much going on in this movie-- and quickly and loudly I might add-- that now I am not even sure how many "car" and "truck" Transformers there were. I recall a Pontiac Solstice mixing it up in there but, to be sure, the star turn was performed by the Camaro. It starts out as a '70s model that is now a real beater. Then, and clearly to impress the gorgeous gearhead played by Ms. Fox who scoffed at his junkiness, it re-transforms itself into the 2008 Camaro-- which I don't even think is for sale yet but no matter, this Hollwood.

The Camaro and the sporty Pontiac coupe are not the only General Motors mobiles on view. It seems quite a few of the "good" Transformers (which battle the baddies-- led by the ridiculously huge and just plain nasty Megatron) are GM products including the dauntless Ironhide, a medium-duty GMC conventional hell-bent on kicking some serious extraterrestrial sheetmetal. The GMC badge and the Chevy bowtie are front and center whenever possible, so I can only surmise the General paid plenty for the pervasive product placement.

Top Dog of the good guys is not a Mack (OK, so I guess I really wished I could have worked that pun in here... and so I have) but, according to widespread rumor and this eyewitness, nothing less than a fully chromed, red-white-and-blue Peterbilt. It looked to me like a Model 388 or 389 before its transformation into a Captain America-ish gigantic robot.

We are talking of course about the mighty yet kind Optimus Prime here-- and he consists not just of said tractor but also a glistening trailer. Alas, there is no Pete oval on his nose. I don't know if Peterbilt Motors Co. chose not to have its distinctive Red Oval logo displayed on Optimus Prime or if the filmmakers wouldn't pay for the privilege. Instead, Optimus Prime wears his own hieroglyphic badge-- although its is red, which may be a nod to his Pete heritage.

Via, here's Optimus having transfomed himself from shiny rig to 'bot raring to fight the good fight:


Despite tons of machine-on-machine violence (people are mostly spared-- except those in cars, trucks, planes, buildings, etc.), you can come away from Transformers feeling pretty darn good not only about how trucks bring good stuff but how they can save the world-- albeit in something over two hours' running time!