The Front Row View: Used Cars

The Front Row View is a regular column by Great Stories contributor Jim Cannizzaro.  He is a veteran community theater leading man, seasoned blogger, movie enthusiast, and family man. 

used cars

Used Cars is Robert Zemeckis’ classic 1980 comedy about an unscrupulous car salesman, Rudy Russo, who is trying to buy the nomination for state senator (a car salesman wants to become a politician—naturally!). Kurt Russell imbues Russo with enough of his energy and charm to keep him from being an unlikable creep (it was his first notable “adult” role after the slew of Disney films that he made throughout the ’60s and ’70s). He needs to raise $10,000 for the nomination, so in order to do that, he devises numerous schemes to lure suckers onto the lot. The movie is fill of intricate sight gags devised by director Robert Zemeckis (his second movie as a director—his first was the entertaining 1978 Beatles homage I Wanna Hold Your Hand), along with his writing partner, producer Bob Gale. Like their later hit films Back to the Future and Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, they get you marveling over their comic structures, setting scenes up so that gags can pay off later on. Admittedly, the movie isn’t for all audiences. Almost all of the characters are deceitful in some way, which may put off some people. However, the movie gallops along with such comic (and film-making) invention that I don’t really care that the major characters are out to fleece everyone. It’s a nose-thumbing good time.


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