Audio - 10
Transfer - 9
Film - 8.5
Special Features - 7
Back to the Future is my favorite movie of all time. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about Used Cars. For those who don’t see a connection between the two, both films are directed by Robert Zemeckis, produced by Bob Gale, and co-written by the two. Amazingly, I had never seen Used Cars until this Blu-ray release.
Used Cars marked the third film that the two Bobs worked on, after I Wanna Hold Your Hand and 1941 (which they wrote and Spielberg directed). This film is a direct reaction to the critical failure of I Wanna Hold Your Hand, a light hearted comedy set during Beatlemania. For their second film (or third, depending on how you look at it), the two decided to make a raunchy, R rated comedy about sleazy car salesmen. The idea was originally conceived by John Milius, who went on to produce the film with Steven Spielberg.
Rudy Russo (Kurt Russell) is a used car salesman at Luke Fuchs’ car lot, located directly across the street from his brother and rival Roy L. Fuchs. Russo has dreams of becoming a senator, however he lacks the necessary funds to ensure his spot in the race. Luke Fuchs promises Rudy the money, but dies before he can give it to him. Now, Russo must find a way to make the ten thousand dollars all while keeping Roy L. Fuchs from knowing Luke is dead and therefore inheriting the lot.
The character of Russo would be an unlikable, repulsive character in the hands of a lesser actor. However, Kurt Russell is charismatic enough to make us care about this character even though he has next to no moral code. The supporting actors also do an outstanding job. Jack Warden does an excellent job playing the two Fuchs brothers as unique characters with their own unique traits. His performance as Roy really shines in the film’s third act. Two other employees at Luke’s lot are fellow salesman Jeff (played by Gerrit Graham) and mechanic Jim (played by Frank McRae). Jeff’s defining characteristic is his belief in superstitions, which leads to some of the funniest scenes in the movie, although Jim might be my favorite character in the flick. In a film full of liars, he is the only one who is honest and censors next to nothing; he just tells it like it is. Joe Flaherty, who I know primarily as the dad in Freaks and Geeks, plays a lawyer in the film and delivers some great bits of dry humor. Rounding out the cast is Deborah Harmon, who plays Luke’s daughter Barbara. She enters the film late, so she doesn’t have as much time to provide laughter as the other characters do, but she does have some amusing moments here and there.
It is obvious that the film is from earlier in Zemeckis’ career. The long establishing shot brings to mind a similar shot in Forrest Gump, which is done much better. Crew and Cameras are visible during some scenes, but it doesn’t take you out of the film. Used Cars is all about the actors and the writing, both of which are fantastic. Jokes are aplenty and the movie had me in tears quite a few times. The script is not as tight as Back to the Future, but it’s still pretty damn good. The film is full of subtle satire that is easy to notice if you spend even a minute thinking about it. The connection between a used cars salesman and a senator is obviously satirical because it is all too true, something that is pointed out in the film itself (in relation to Bill and Hilary Clinton, who Russell compares to Rudy and Barbara).
The Blu-ray looks fantastic. Scenes are grainy, as they should be. It’s nice to see a film of this budget, era, and genre get the same treatment as a more popular title. All of the bonus features from the DVD are carried over, along with an unused audio track, which is explained in the commentary track. Speaking of the commentary, it is fantastic. Kurt Russell, Robert Zemeckis, and Bob Gale provide a nice mix of criticism, set stories, unused ideas, and all the other things that fans of commentary tracks expect. Sadly, the movie was released by Twilight Time, so many will probably write off this Blu-ray because of its price or TT’s practices. Unfortunately for them, it’s basically this or nothing. Used Cars, while a cult classic, is not popular enough to warrant a widespread release. Unlike other Twilight Time releases, which are usually available in other territories (usually Germany), Used Cars is only available in America and only available through Twilight Time. Included is a nice booklet with an essay, which doesn’t include much that you can’t find on Wikipedia. However, it is nice that it’s included and provides a reprint of the original poster on the back of it. My only complaint is that the cover, which I really disliked at first, is starting to grow on me.
Used Cars is a hilarious comedy that I recommend to anyone who is a fan of the Back to the Future trilogy. It’s full of both over the top and subtle humor. The Blu-ray is fantastic, but if you want it, you better act fast. Trust me, it’s well worth the 35 dollars.