Cadillac Man (1990)

Genres - Comedy, Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Comedy, Comedy of Manners  |   Release Date - May 18, 1990 (USA)  |   Run Time - 97 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Karl Williams

An amusing set of characters performed to perfection by a talented cast highlights this scabrous comedy that ultimately fails because it lacks a sense of self. Starting out as an amusing portrait of the stereotypical sleazy used-car salesman -- well portrayed by a put-upon, stressed-out Robin Williams -- Cadillac Man seems poised to expose the inner workings of the previously owned vehicle trade. Positioned as a welcome (if less funny) updating of the underrated gem Used Cars (1980), the film takes a surprise turn when the car-dealership employees are taken hostage by an irate husband (Tim Robbins); it then quickly loses steam. The battle of wits that ensues between the leads is static and not sufficiently amusing to sustain the rest of the film's run time, and the story sags under the weight of an ill-considered plot turn that suddenly transforms the movie into a bizarre reinterpretation of Dog Day Afternoon (1975). Punctuating the tedium are the appearances of various supporting players such as Bill Nunn, Elaine Stritch, Lauren Tom, and Fran Drescher, who turn up to enliven the proceedings, transforming Cadillac Man from a lemon into a marginally good deal.