Review for Used Cars
Rudy is a shady salesman at a used car showroom run by Luke Fuchs. Here he uses all of his underhanded tactics to make useless cars look like new. Across the road is a more successful ran by Luke's brother Roy. Roy is scheming to take over Luke's lot and is using all his influence bought from the local politicians who are almost as shady as Rudy's selling pitch.
Knowing of Luke's weak heart he seeks to cause him to have a heart attack, but his estranged daughter and Rudy's own political ambitions prove to be more than a thorn in Roy's side to take ownership of his brother's lot. This leads to a madcap, screwball comedy that is one of the classics from the 1980s.
This film is one of those films that is really such a product of its time. It is true that they could easily remake the film and set it in 2019, but it feels like a 1980s film so much that I don't think it would have the same impact. That being said, when it was first released it was only a minor hit and most reviews of the time including from Ebert did not appreciate the film. On reflection the film has become a cult hit.
This was the first time I had seen film and I have always (oddly) mixed this film with the Robert Redford film Ordinary People released in the same year. Upon watching I have to say that I did enjoy the film, it had a lot of moments of sheer comedy and Kurt Russell's performance as Rudy is just perfect. It is so strange after so many years of viewing him as Jack Burton or Snake Plissken to see him in this 'Everyman Shyster' role. The shining star of the film is Jack Warden playing both Luke and Roy Fuchs is just wonderful and though Roy is the more prominent character, both are a joy to behold.
One of the more interesting aspects of the film is simply that it was one of the first films by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale who later created the Back to the Future films. Robert Zemeckis over the years has proven to be an amazing Director with likes of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Romancing the Stone and his Oscar-winning turn with Forrest Gump. This film has some of the style and lunacy that he would bring to his later films, but I agree that at times it felt too unfocused and could have been better with fewer characters.
Despite this, the film is enjoyable and though I wouldn't say it was the greatest film ever made it is certainly a fun film and one that has stood the test of time. If you have ever tried to buy a car you may enjoy all the sales techniques which are so realistic that they are hilarious in their absurdity.
The Commentary provided by Director Robert Zemeckis, Producer Bob Gale and Actor Kurt Russell is fantastic. It is clear listening that they enjoyed working on the film before, during and on reflection they seem to all have fond memories of it.
Two isolated scores are included. Now if you are a fan of film scores you may enjoy this, but if not it is a pointless exercise on a film like this which has huge moments with no score at all and so you have to sit watching the film in silence and you can't fast forward as you will not know when the next piece of music will come in. This really should have been a edit of the film to just show the scenes of the film with music.
Would You Buy A Car From These Men? is an interview with Producer and Co-Writer Bob Gale talking about how the film was made and though I do wish more people had been involved I did enjoy listening to Gale talk about making this film.
I do wish the 'Outtakes and Gag Reel' were two separate things as I wasn't sure which was which and none of it was much good, which is a shame.
Radio interview with Kurt Russell and a number of Radio spots are nice to hear and Russell was clearly the best person to try and help sell people this film. Kurt Russell also stars in a Chrysler advert from the time the film was made and he proves that if he had failed as an actor, he could have been a great car salesman. Finally, there is the Original Trailer and Stills Gallery.
Used Cars is a great time capsule of the 1980s and if you are a fan of this type of film you will enjoy this film. It is true that it is not perfect, but it certainly worth a watch. If you are a fan of the frenetic and energetic filmamking that made Back to the Future such a classic you may be curious to see what the two creators had made beforehand. This is certainly not a lemon of a film, but definitely one you may want to take for a test drive.