Used Cars (1980)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Americana, Satire  |   Release Date - Jul 11, 1980 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 113 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Dan Jardine

Director/writer Robert Zemeckis works with much of the same team that contributed to Steven Spielberg's bloated bomb 1941 and Zemeckis' own charming and wacky directorial debut I Wanna Hold Your Hand to produceUsed Cars, a low-brow comedy boasting easy targets (used car salesmen) and irresistibly attractive cruelty. The film's incessant assault on its characters and their perverse quest for the American Holy Grail (money and power) has the pacing and energy of a 1930's zany screwball comedy, but is much darker in spirit. Kurt Russell, in a stunning break from his youthful Disney roles, epitomizes the archetypal unscrupulous salesman who will stop at nothing to rip off his customers and crush the competition. The entire cast, many of whom were plucked from such 1960's and '70's schlock as The Munsters, Laverne and Shirley, and The Gong Show, appear to be enjoying themselves immensely as they cavort through this ridiculously obnoxious material. The anger at the heart of the humor, as well as the broadness (some say tastelessness) of the comedy combined to limit the film's audience. Zemeckis, however, was able to springboard from Used Cars to the kinder, gentler Indiana Jones homage Romancing the Stone, the wildly successful Back to the Future trilogy, and, eventually, to the Oscar-winning Forrest Gump.