WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Two warring car lots will stop at nothing to steal each other’s clientele, and things quickly devolve into slob comedy hysterics. Following the untimely (and grossly humorous) demise of his beloved boss, Rudy Russo pulls out all the stops to save his car lot from the evil dealership across the street. This includes hiring strippers, pre-empting a presidential address, and leading a fleet of 250 clunkers across the desert in one of the craziest car chases you’ll ever see.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
If you list Animal House, Caddyshack and Stripes among your favorite comedies, the 1980 Robert Zemeckis flick Used Cars will certainly tickle your immature sensibilities. Kurt Russell (Escape from New York) oozes a cocksure charm as Rudy Russo, a low-rent used car shill who dreams of running for congress. Jack Warden (Heaven Can Wait) plays a dual role and steals scene after scene. Cult character actor extraordinaire Gerrit Graham (Phantom of the Paradise) is outstanding as a ridiculously superstitious salesman, and Frank McRae (1941) offers perhaps 7 lines of dialogue…each of which are drop-dead funny.
Aside from a stable of strong acting performances, Used Cars succeeds because of its gleefully absurd humor. If the idea of a small dog urinating on someone’s face to wake them up sounds funny, then Used Cars is a movie you’ll appreciate. Those personally familiar with the stereotypical used car salesman will get a kick out of Used Cars, as it offers several humorous depictions of devious salesmanship at its most ridiculous. Plus, it’s impossible to dislike a movie in which 250 used cars race frantically across the desert (driven by high school students!) in a mad effort to save a beloved used-car lot.
Hats off to Columbia Home Video for delivering a bang-up DVD for this semi-beloved cult comedy. Fans may have been content with a sweet transfer and soundtrack, but Zemeckis and crew is on hand with some excellent supplementary features. The best treat by far is a full-length audio commentary with Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale and Kurt Russell. The three are obviously still quite taken with this funny flick, and the commentary is full of interesting anecdotes, good-natured ribbing and peals of laughter. If you’re a fan of this movie, make listening to the commentary an urgent priority. Next up is a short yet amusing Outtake Reel, which is a collection of flubs, bloopers and extended scenes. You’ll also find a collection of Radio Spots, the original Theatrical Trailer, a TV Spot and some Cast/Crew Biographies.
Used Cars is a foul-mouthed and extremely diverting little farce, one that’s earned a small but loyal cult following over the years. If the New Release racks are looking as wretched as usual, do yourself a favor and give this one a chance.