Used Cars

Used-Cars-MovieUsed Cars (1980) Columbia Pictures/Comedy RT: 113 minutes Rated R (non-stop profanity and crude language, comic violence, nudity, sexual content, adult situations) Director: Robert Zemeckis Screenplay: Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale Music: Patrick Williams Cinematography: Donald M. Morgan Release date: July 11, 1980 Starring: Kurt Russell, Jack Warden, Gerritt Graham, Frank McRae, Deborah Harmon, Joe Flaherty, David L. Lander, Michael McKean, Harry Northup, Michael Talbott, Alfonso Arau, Al Lewis, Woodrow Parfrey, Andrew Duncan, Dub Taylor, Cheryl Rixon, Wendie Jo Sperber, Marc McClure. Box Office: $11.7 million (US)

Rating: fullstarfullstarfullstarfullstar

Used Cars had the misfortune of being released in the summer of '80 and going up against such comedy juggernauts as Airplane!, The Blues Brothers and Caddyshack. Naturally, it got lost in the shuffle, but over the years it's developed quite a strong cult following. Deservedly so, it's one of the funniest movies that I've ever seen. Hilarious, profane, wild, offensive, crude .......... it's an all out "slob comedy" masterpiece! October 3, 1983 ........... that date marks the first time that I ever watched this movie, I snuck downstairs and watched it on cable TV (Cinemax), it was totally worth the effort! It's about these two used car dealerships located across the street from one another in Mesa, Arizona.

Roy L. Fuchs (Warden, All the President's Men) owns and operates the respectable Roy L. Fuchs Pre-Owned Automobiles while his younger brother Luke (Warden, in a dual role) runs the less successful New Deal Used Cars. Fast-talking Rudy Russo (Russell, The Thing) works for Luke and has aspirations of running for Senate. His co-workers include the very superstitious Jeff (Graham, The Annihilators) and hot tempered mechanic Jim (McRae, 48 Hrs). When Roy learns that his lot is to be demolished to make way for a new freeway exit, he devises a scheme to get rid of his brother and inherit ownership of his lot. He sends one of his mechanics, an ex-demolition derby driver named Mickey (Talbott, First Blood), to cause Luke to have a heart attack by taking him for a wild and reckless test drive in one of his cars. Luke drops dead, but his employees can't allow Roy to take over the business, so they conceal his death by burying him in a 1959 Edsel right there on the car lot. They make up a story that he went on a fishing trip in Miami and it seems to work until his estranged daughter Barbara (Harmon, Bachelor Party) shows up a couple of days later.

used carsObviously, the funniest parts of Used Cars concern the ongoing rivalry between the two car lots and the lengths to which they'll go to attract customers. In one scene, the guys at New Deal illegally broadcast a commercial during a live football game (they call it "jamming"). It's the work of two local electronic geniuses, Eddie and Freddie (McKean and Lander, Lenny and Squiggy from Laverne & Shirley). Jeff stars in the commercial wearing a Groucho-esque disguise alongside a beautiful model (Rixon), things go haywire when he discovers that he's been using a red car as the display car. Jeff believes that red cars mean bad luck and in this case he might be right, the model's dress gets caught on the hood ornament and torn off when somebody pops the hood. All of this occurs on live TV; consequently, dozens of customers show up at New Deal the very next day. That's right, nudity on TV sells cars! The guys employ a similar tactic a little later when they hire strippers to dance on the cars, it lures every customer from Roy's lot. It's moments of outrageousness like this that make Used Cars one of the funniest comedies of that era and I haven't even described the climax of the movie yet. It involves Barbara's claim that there's a mile of cars for sale on the lot. In order to keep her from going to jail (for false advertising), Rudy buys 250 junkers from a sleazy Mexican car dealer (Arau, The Wild Bunch) and brings in 250 high school students to drive the cars to the lot. Yep, it's a convoy and that can mean only one thing...... lots of vehicular mayhem! It's a great sequence, I would expect nothing less from screenwriters Zemeckis and Gale. Remember, these guys also wrote the vastly underappreciated 1941 the year before. In fact, both director Steven Speilberg and writer John Milius serve as executive producers for Used Cars. It makes sense to keep a winning team together, yes?

Kurt Russell stars in his first R-rated movie here and he proves himself a gifted adult performer. He's also very, very funny here! You know exactly what you're in for when he flashes that smile and says "Trust me.", that popular phrase uttered many times by used cars salesmen and politicians to which there's only one appropriate response ......... DON'T YOU BELIEVE IT! Russell pulls off the role with aplomb, he's just so perfect for this flick. Jack Warden does a great job in both roles, it shows great versatility on his part that he can play a kindly old man and a mean bastard in the same movie. He gets off some of the movie's best (and crudest) lines. Upon learning that he might lose his car lot, he angrily complains ".....it used to be when you bought a politician, that son of a bitch stayed bought." Personally, I'm also fond of "I know where the f**k Miami Beach is, dummy."; "Now aren't you a little big to be playing in the f**king mud?" and "What are you, a f**king parrot?" Yep, these characters sure love that f-word, don't they? Frank McRae gets some good lines as well, I liked his line about turning a fire hose on a group of nuns protesting New Deal, he says, "I knocked them m----- f-----s right on they asses too." Al "Grandpa Munster" Lewis shows up as the tough judge presiding over the New Deal case. It's not a huge role, but it's always nice to see Lewis in action. There's even a clever dog who knows how to guilt customers into buying a car, he pretends to get run over when they take it for a test drive. Okay, so we're not talking about a serious art film here, it's made for the Animal House crowd and it works on that level perfectly! Used Cars has a very high repeat watchability quotient, it's still hysterically funny after more than 30 years. What else can I say? It's a great movie, check it out if you haven't already seen it.

 

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