Sunday, December 9, 2018

Movie Review: "Used Cars" (1980)

Director: Robert Zemeckis
Year: 1980
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 53 minutes

A shabby used car lot struggles to find ways to drum up business while their high dollar competitor across the street does all he can to close them down.

Used Cars 1980 movie still Robert Zemeckis Jack Warden Roy L. Fuchs
"I've been selling cars long enough to know when somebody's telling the truth." (Image Source)
At this point, we sound like a broken record, but Kurt Russell really does make everything better. "Used Cars" is the second feature film from director Robert Zemeckis, who would go on to direct features like "Back to the Future," "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" and "Forrest Gump." This movie tells the story of two rival car lots that are located across the street from one another. These lots happened to be owned by brothers Roy L. Fuchs (Jack Warden) and Luke Fuchs (Jack Warden). Roy's lot looks like a proper car dealership with offices and pavement, while Luke's is basically just a dilapidated trailer on a dirt lot. Luke's lot employs shady salesman like Rudy Russo (Kurt Russell), who will resort to any tactics necessary to sell their less-than-reliable beat-up old cars. They roll back odometers, cover cabs with cheap water-based paint, and anything else they can to make a sale. Believe it or not, the people who work at this lot are actually the heroes of this story. The villain is Roy, a ruthless businessman with political connections who wants to put his brother out of business so a new freeway exit can be installed right next to his lot. Roy will do anything to make this happen, even if it means killing his brother so he can inherit his business and the ground it sits on. What he didn't count on, however, is Luke's estranged daughter Barbara (Deborah Harmon) showing up to make a claim on her father's property. Roy has very few qualms with ruining her, too.
Used Cars 1980 movie still Robert Zemeckis Kurt Russell Rudy Russo
"It used to be when you bought a politician, that son of a bitch stayed bought" (Image Source)
"Used Cars" is the kind of movie that is a product of its time. The comedy in this film won't be for everybody since, by today's standards, it would be considered sexist and misogynistic. Does it make us horrible people if we admit to laughing at a lot of the humor here? Because if so, we guess we'll just go ahead and call ourselves awful people since we laughed repeatedly while watching it, though we think everyone can agree there's a hard line into "whoa, that's way too much" territory. The humor dips into dark and often inappropriate territory as these two feuding brothers crack jokes about murder frequently, but we found ourselves loving the seedy nature of their banter nonetheless. Like we said, we're terrible people. It probably helps that many of the jokes being told are delivered by Kurt "God Amongst Men" Russell, whose immense charm, flashy smile, and shady disposition make anything and everything 110% better. Kurt Russell can say the most horrendous stuff and do the most atrocious things and still come off as a nice guy. For all intents and purposes, his character is a shyster. He cheats his customers, he lies endlessly, and he sells sub-par automobiles that have no business being on the road, but we still want to root for him and his crew of merry misfits who do his bidding without really even thinking about the consequences. A lot of credit also has to be given to Jack Warden, who is able to make the character of Roy L. Fuchs seem worse by comparison. Of course, Roy's willingness to have his brother murdered so he can sell a couple of extra cars would make anyone seem like a halfway decent person by comparison. Russo and his motley crew of oddballs get up to a bunch of crazy antics, and we found ourselves smiling and cracking up the whole dang time.
Used Cars 1980 movie still Robert Zemeckis Kurt Russell Rudy Russo
"I wouldn't buy a car from anybody who put this kind of shit on TV." (Image Source)
Though the narrative is as simple as can be, "Used Cars" is a heck of a lot of retro fun. We wound up enjoying this movie immensely and think it is definitely worth checking out for fans of irreverent (yet admittedly outdated) '80s humor.

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.8/10
RT Rating: 77%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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