Used Cars (1980)
Reviewed on 2009 October 3
Completely politically incorrect comedy from 1980, featuring dueling brothers, a young Kurt Russell, cars that even the Cash for Clunkers project would have rejected, and the world’s smartest Beagle.
The Fuchs brothers (both wonderfully played by Jack Warden) are a pair of used car hucksters in the Southwest, agreeing only on their hatred of each other and that they each desire to be the biggest “pre-owned” car dealer in the region. Roy L. has the shinier cars and fancier showroom, but is a scoundrel who’s fine with buying politicians to get what he wants. The fact that his brother Luke’s car business is limping along, across the street from his at that, is a thorn in his wide-lapeled side: he wants it for himself. His brother Luke has neither the quality or quantity of vehicles, but he has one thing Roy L. does not, and that’s Rudolph “Rudy” Russo (Russell). Rudy wears polyester leisure suits that probably violate California safety ordinances and you can smell the cloud of Hai Karate that no doubt hovers over him, but he’s loyal to Rudy, promising to never ever let Roy L. get his hands on their dealership. Soon Rudy finds himself scrambling to keep his vow.
There’s no way something like this could get made today; it is a relic of another decade, and the closest things we currently have are clumsy, raunchy teen comedies that overdo the low-brow humor without the genuine wit this thing had. Rudy’s sleaze covered a good heart and Russell did a wonderful job with the character. Garret Graham was hilarious as the equally sleazy, superstitious Jeff, and his bit as “Marshall Lucky” is one of the funniest things I think I’ve seen.
Three chocolate morsels.