Used Cars (1980) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

A relatively unknown little comic gem issued on a good-looking full-featured DVD. (How many minor 20 year old films have outtakes and deleted scenes?)

Can it really be 20 years since this film came out? I suppose so, if for no other reason than the fact that hotshot producer/director and former Hill Street regular Betty Thomas has a part with no lines - as a background stripper! She's come a ways, as they say.


Cheryl Rixon appeared topless as the commercial spokeswoman. She is a former Penthouse Pet of the Year.

Betty Thomas and another woman appeared topless except for pasties.

Deborah Harmon showed one nipple in her sex scene with Kurt Russell

This movie came out when Scoopy Jr and his brother were just little kids, and it was one of our family favorites. I don't think I've watched it in about 20 years, and I still enjoyed it today. There are a lot of great belly laughs in this battle between a sleazy but nice low-budget used car dealer, and a sleazier, evil,  high-budget used car dealer whose dealership is right across the street. The two dealers are twin brothers, both played by Jack Warden. The plot, such as it is, involves a highway exit, which is going through one of the dealerships, thereby closing one and placing the other in the best location in the Western United States. Which of them will end up rich? The evil brother figures out a scheme to kill the nice brother by causing him a heart attack. This creates a hilarious scene. Kurt Russell plays a salesman who tells a buyer "when my boss hears your offer, he's going to have a heart attack"? Kurt leaves the room and the customer smugly tells his wife that it's just a scam, and a crummy $50 bucks never killed anybody - until Jack Warden actually stumbles into the room and has a heart attack - and the buyer signs the contract!

Of course, death doesn't really slow the nice brother down that much, because his faithful employees hide his death and carry on!

My favorite scenes in the movie involve some TV ads. You see, the low budget guys can't afford real TV ads, so they hire some electronics hackers to make a live cut into the Super Bowl and a Presidential Address (although even the sleazebag car salesmen are not sure they want the public to associate them with Jimmy Carter)! The two electronics nerds are played by Lenny and Squiggy, and they are funny, but the actual live homemade commercials are hilarious.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1

  • full-length commentary from Zemeckis and Russell

  • outtakes (with additional nudity)

  • promotional features: trailers, artwork, etc.

"I'm Sheriff Lucky, and I'm going to blow the shit out of high prices." What the lawman actually blows up are the best cars on the lot of the evil brother across the street, and the commercials include plenty of extreme profanity and nudity, albeit unintentionally.

The last twenty minutes of the film descend into sheer slapstick, and I thought that part was kinda dumb, but by that time, I was already satisfied with the laugh count. Kurt Russell was a great comic actor. I wish he had done more comedy, and I hope he gets back into it.

Trivia: This film had a lot of heavy-duty names attached to it. Steven Spielberg and John Milius were the executive producers, and Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump, Romancing the Stone, Cast Away, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?) directed.

The Critics Vote

  • Maltin 3/4

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDB readers say 6.5/10.


IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a B. Such a completely charming screwball comedy that it will win your heart even if you don't normally like screwball comedies. Belly laughs, black humor, and Kurt Russell hilariously insincere.

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