There are comedies, there are tragedies, and there is Pretty Lady Bike. Pretty Lady Bike is even more remarkable than a Buster Keaton film, because the main character never hurts himself even once. Pretty Lady Bike is about ignoring problems that are right in front of you. On another level, it is about integrity and perseverance. Pretty Lady Bike is an allegory about thinking it looks cool to be a grown man and ride a tiny bike when actually it doesn’t.
Pretty Lady Bike is a sociological study. Its unnamed protagonist, something of an everyman, rides around on his pink girl’s bike that says “Pretty Lady Bike” across the body for three minutes of pure screen time. From the start, the wheel on the rear of his bike is broken. A vacant lot, all asphalt and idleness, empties in to a quiet street. The Pretty Lady Biker swivels around in the lot. The speed is slowed down; the bike comes around full tilt; the music is a gangster drone, organ style. A police car drives past in the background, completing the mis-en-scene. This shot may come before the film’s halfway mark, but it spells out the direction of the entire film. This shot is so grandiose, it is kitsch inverted—in other words, YouTube generation irony. Theisshot is one building block in a series of gags. The film follows Buster Keaton’s model insofar as it builds gag upon gag until substance appears. The film follows the ironic web-video model insofar as we empathize with the Pretty Lady Biker. And how do we empathize with him?
Many of us have lurked around the suburbs. All of us have been ridiculous. I also used to bike. I once knocked over stranger’s trashcans as I sped down the sidewalks in my town. Then I got yelled at, and I stopped. I used to bike full-tilt through the city, often going against traffic, often getting yelled at for it, never caring. Then my bike got stolen and I stopped. Now I watch videos of silly people doing silly things on bikes on the Internet and share it with my friends. We laugh at them and think; No way could that be us. Not at any time, ever.