04
Aug
13

Used Cars (1980)

Who could say no to that face?

Who could say no to that face?

There’s reality, and there’s movie comedy reality. The two are nothing alike. Take a movie like Weekend at Bernie’s for instance. This is a movie about two guys who carry their boss’s corpse around, pretending like he’s not dead, and it’s supposed to make us laugh. Sometimes it’s almost as if my suspension of disbelief needs to be stronger for comedies than it does for superhero movies or action flicks. That strikes me as a little strange, but watching Robert Zemeckis’s Used Cars made me realize that most comedies have plots that lie outside of the realm of possibility.

Used Cars isn’t so wacky as Weekend at Bernie’s, but it’s close. As I sit here trying to write up a decent synopsis, I’m realizing just how convoluted the plot is, so let me try to be succinct: Rudy Russo

Pretending they run over your dog... yeah, that's a good way to sell cars, right?

Pretending they run over your dog… yeah, that’s a good way to sell cars, right?

(Kurt Russell) is a used car salesman, living in a trailer park and ready to move up in life. He’s planning on running for senate, and with his boss Luke’s help, will be able to raise enough money to get himself in the running. Luke Fuchs is a nice guy, but his brother, Roy, who owns a lot across the street, is not so nice. He’ll do anything to get the lot from under his brother, including kill him! 

Roy is successful at bringing about the perfect set of circumstances that would cause his brother’s heart to finally give out. But Rudy and his counterparts Jeff (Gerrit Graham) and Jim (Frank McRae) know all too well that, with an estranged daughter, there’s no one left to inherit their lot except Roy. To avoid this situation, they bury Luke in his car and tell everyone he’s driven off to Miami. Roy of course is fairly certain they’ve hidden the body somewhere, and he and his nasty lawyer pal are on the hunt for it. All the while, Luke’s daughter isn’t so estranged at all, and she shows up on the lot just in time to take it over. Roy’s nastiness doesn’t abate, however, and he

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, they hire Lenny and Squiggy to interrupt live broadcasts for their commercials!

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, they hire Lenny and Squiggy to interrupt live broadcasts for their commercials!

manipulates one of her commercials and sues her for false advertising! Now, the only way to save the lot from Roy’s clutches is to get a mile of cars onto their used car lot! 

So, yeah, succinct fail, but that’s the plot (and I’m leaving a lot out!). A little far-fetched? Yes. Totally freaking ridiculous? Yes. But isn’t that what you want out of a comedy? I have to admit by the end I was getting a little impatient: I mean, I knew the good guys were going to win, why does it have to take so long to happen? That being said, I’m perfectly happy to sit down and watch as much Kurt Russell as possible. Those dimples! 

 

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