(Robert Zemeckis, 1980)
When you write a review about a disappointing comedy called Used Cars, the bad puns just roll right off your fingertips:
“This dated film just has too many miles on it.”
“This clunker just drags on by.”
“The script seems patched together with Bondo.”
They just write themselves. I am powerless against a shitty pun.
That said, I’m being too hard on this film — a classic of early 80s pay cable, if only for the word-of-mouth support which surrounded it. In grade school, I heard so much about this raunchy R-rated comedy that it just had to be great. After all, naked breasts + the F-word = Sheer Greatness. A+++!
However, the danger of seeing a “hot” movie long after it’s cooled off is to see it out of context. What’s hysterically funny to a 10 year old in the early 80s doesn’t necessarily hold water with an modern adult with a mortgage. Then again, that’s exactly where this movie succeeds. Kurt Russell is a born used-car salesman, and Jack Warden holds his own in a dual role as brothers who happen to be rival car dealers. When director Zemeckis lets them cut loose — it results in some raucous and raunchy scenes. One memorable scene features a salesman’s dog playing dead in order to sell a car. I love me a funny pooch.
The humor is uneven though, and sometimes played too hard for laughs. Every scene involving a salesman’s irrational superstitions falls completely flat. Also, the script awkwardly wedges in a requisite love interest for Russell to make his antics turn from heartless to heartfelt.
All in all, it’s a decent enough watch, but I do recommend alcohol or other substances to enhance the experience during the dull stretches. Not every sex comedy can be consistently resonant, and Used Cars is far from a lemon.
(Please accept my apologies for this unfortunate lapse in pun oppression.)