Moving Violations (1985) 20th Century Fox/Comedy RT: 90 minutes Rated PG-13 (language, crude jokes, brief partial nudity, sexual content and humor, alcohol abuse) Director: Neal Israel Screenplay: Neal Israel and Pat Proft Music: Ralph Burns Cinematography: Robert Elswit Release date: April 19, 1985 (US) Starring: John Murray, Jennifer Tilly, James Keach, Brian Backer, Ned Eisenberg, Nedra Volz, Clara Peller, Wendie Jo Sperber, Fred Willard, Lisa Hart Carroll, Nadine Van der Velde, Ben Mittleman, Victor Campos, Willard E. Pugh, Sally Kellerman, Robert Conrad, Don Cheadle, Dedee Pfeiffer. Box Office: $10.6 million (US)
Okay, it's a shameless rip-off of Police Academy, but I absolutely LOVE Moving Violations! In the vernacular of my generation, it's a piss! Basically, it's about a bunch of lousy drivers sentenced to traffic school under the tutelage of a totalitarian instructor. After wise ass Dana Cannon (Murray, Scrooged) derails his promotion, Deputy Halik (Keach, The Long Riders) is assigned to teach traffic school and, naturally, the class consists of misfits and other careless drivers who have received far too many tickets for assorted violations. Among the offenders are a ditsy attractive woman (Tilly, Bride of Chucky), hypochondriac (Sperber, Bachelor Party), a punk rocker (Van der Velde, Critters), a good-natured puppeteer (Backer, Fast Times at Ridgemont High), a near-blind elderly woman (Volz, Different Strokes), a limo driver/single father of two (Mittleman, Dead Heat), a black guy (Pugh, RoboCop 2) and a potential serial killer (Eisenberg, Last Man Standing). Halik, along with his tough female partner Deputy Morris (Carroll, Terms of Endearment), proceeds to terrorize his students by making the course unreasonably difficult. Understandably resentful of his present assignment, he conspires with a corrupt traffic court judge (Kellerman, Back to School) to fail all of the students, auction off their impounded vehicles and keep the money for themselves. Dana learns of their nefarious scheme and enlists the others to foil their plans and get their driving privileges reinstated.
I laughed all the way through Moving Violations, it's so stupid and corny that it's impossible not to laugh hysterically at the antics of these lunatics. In one scene, the hypochondriac overhears a fellow student (Willard, Anchorman) talking about his "clinic" and asks him for medical advice, completely unaware that it's actually an automobile clinic. Not only does she follow his advice literally- drain all water, take in a lot of oil and grease up that back end- she ends up sitting naked on the car lift expecting a rectal examination. The class psycho asks a female classmate if she prefers the severed arm in Tightrope or the severed limbs in Scarface. Later, he shows up for a late night raid on the impound lot wearing a Jason Voorhees mask and sporting a chainsaw. The elderly woman who can't see takes the wrong exit at the airport and pulls up behind an airplane just about to take off (she thinks it's a bus). The hypochondriac loses control of her car and the bowling balls in the trunk fly everywhere, knocking down people at a bus stop like bowling pins. A bunch of rotten kids push the puppeteer's stage down a hill (with him inside) and it rolls right into traffic. Moving Violations is the kind of movie where a character comments that a classmate is no rocket scientist only to have her tell him a moment later that she works at NASA as ..... you guessed it, a rocket scientist. When the punk rocker tells the puppeteer that her sister is coming to pick her up, she turns out to be a nun .... that's right, her sister is a Sister! LMAO!
Moving Violations also has lots of priceless dialogue, like when the hypochondriac asks, "How can I be a hypochondriac when I'm sick all the time?" In my opinion, the old lady has the best lines, like "Why is my back all wet?", she says this while sitting on a urinal in the men's room. The best bit comes as the students drink away their sorrows after failing the driving test, when Dana suggests that they go after Halik, she drunkenly blurts out, "Yeah, f--k him! Rip his nuts off!" That line ALWAYS cracks me up. Incidentally, the friend that she picks up at the airport is played by Clara Peller, the elderly woman from the old Wendy's commercials who always asked "Where's the beef?". Here, she gets to ask "Where's the bags?" as the porter rolls her luggage out of the airport. John Murray is exactly like his older brother Bill, in fact, he has a scene in the men's room with Halik that's a direct nod to a similar scene in Bill Murray's hit 1981 comedy Stripes. He becomes romantically involved with the ditsy rocket scientist. The puppeteer gets romantically involved with the punk rocker and learns that she has many secrets. It all culminates in a madcap chase through the streets of Los Angeles as the gang attempts to deliver evidence of Halik's misdeeds to the police chief (Conrad, The Wild Wild West). Director Neal Israel (Bachelor Party) cast some really funny people in Moving Violations, the late Wendie Jo Sperber is great as is the late Nedra Volz. I'm sorry, but that little old lady cracks me up, mainly because I've personally seen many little old ladies on the road who have no business driving a car. Ned Eisenberg is awesome as the kind of guy who rents The Texas Chainsaw Massacre when he needs to relax. John Murray successfully steers this comedy into great comedy territory and Tilly makes an excellent female lead, I just love her speaking voice (she currently voices Bonnie Swanson on Family Guy). No two ways about it (nope, only one way!), Moving Violations is a laugh riot and one of the most overlooked slapstick comedies of the 80s.