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Used Cars

Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 108 mins . M15+ . PAL


I have a terrible secret. It gnaws at my insides, it torments me day and night. It's something that I cannot keep bottled up any longer. Here goes... I... like... Kurt Russell! There, I've said it. Stop snickering, I'm not ashamed. Sure, he's about as B-grade as you can get, but who else can claim to have gone from a Disney career (while playing minor league baseball on the side), to playing Elvis, to making John Carpenter films without the bat of an eyelid? Of course there's also the matter of a little film called Used Cars.

After completing his first feature film I Wanna Hold Your Hand, Robert Zemeckis made a conscious effort to undertake a project that wasn't quite as wholesome. The resulting film was to be Used Cars, often described by the director himself as "kind of like It's a Wonderful Life, except everyone's a liar".

Used Cars tells the story of Luke and Roy Fuchs (both brilliantly hammed up by Jack Warden), brothers and rival used car dealers desperately trying to seize control of each othersí dealerships. The biggest gag of all is that their dealerships are opposite each other. With the competition heating up, Luke's ace salesman Rudy Russo (Kurt Russell) comes up with a series of unethical, downright shameful advertising techniques in order to increase sales and bankroll his way into politics.

"Wait a minute.. is that a 1977 BMW for $24,000? Thats too f%$#ing high! *KA-BOOM!* "

While the film was criminally ignored upon release, over the years it has become something of a cult classic. It's unashamedly sleazy approach really hit the mark with certain audiences, while the barrage of classic one liners made it a damn sight funnier than a lot of likewise í80s comedies. Add to this a good dose of physical comedy, plus some of the most irresponsible car stunts this side of the Blues Brothers, then you've got yourself an absolutely charm-less ripper of an í80s comedy.

And if none of the above melts your butter, at least check out Used Cars for the following:

- Kurt Russell disco dancing on top of a car.
- Toby, the coolest movie dog of all time.
- The "That price is just too f*$%ing high!" advertising campaign.
- Jack Warden ejecting more expletives from between his lips than most people say in a lifetime.
- One of the dodgiest convoy car stunts ever, involving 250 cars speeding across the Arizona desert bumper to bumper, while Kurt Russell performs most of his own bonnet hopping stunts.
- Last but not least, the fact that Steven Spielberg bankrolled the film. He must have been appalled!


Despite a fairly heavy amount of grain and some noticeable film artefacts, the majority of this transfer finds the film in very good condition. The level of detail and image sharpness is also quite good throughout, with the exception of a few 'softer' scenes. Shadow detail and black levels are acceptable throughout considering the filmís age, and colour levels, despite appearing a little pale every now and then, are also acceptable.

This is certainly the best the film has looked in a long time, and considering that it will never be a huge seller, probably the best it will ever look. No complaints here.

The film is presented in an anamorphically enhanced ratio of 1.78:1.


Considering the expectations one has of a mono soundtrack, the audio transfer here actually measures up pretty well. Overall, it does a very good job as a mono 2.0 transfer. Of course itís fairly limited in terms of dynamics, but itís certainly one of the best mono presentations I have yet heard on a DVD.

Dialogue is clear and problem-free throughout, while the sound effects and background music contain a surprising amount of body. There are no scratches or audio synch problems either. Again, no complaints here.


Especially considering that Used Cars comes standard as a budget title, the amount, and quality, of extras that this disc offers is simply outstanding.

Audio Commentary - With Director Robert Zemeckis, Co-Writer/Producer Bob Gale and star Kurt Russell. Anyone who has listened to a Kurt Russell commentary track before (specifically The Thing and Big Trouble in Little China) will know that they are a lot of fun, and this one is no exception. While he generally takes a bit of a back seat on this one, itís still hilarious and highly entertaining. All three participants are having a ball revisiting the film, and they tell a ton of great stories. Overall, a superior commentary in terms of entertainment.

Outtakes - Almost five minutes of deleted scenes and general goof-ups. Interesting enough, but unfortunately the poor quality hinders their viewing.

TV Spot - An honest to goodness real used car advertisement with Kurt Russell, produced for the actual owner of the car lot that they used for the film. Amusing.

Radio Spots - Seven radio ads used to promote the film upon its release. Interesting listening and quite amusing, even if they do remind me of the KBBL guys from The Simpsons.

Interview - An interesting five minute radio interview with Kurt Russell. Not just about the film either, the interview also covers a little bit of ground regarding Kurt's Disney and baseball career.

Photo Gallery - A small collection of lobby cards and promotional posters for Used Cars.

Talent Bios - Moderately detailed information and filmographies for a selection of the cast and crew.

Theatrical Trailers - Two theatrical trailers for Blue Streak and the marvellous As Good As It Gets.


I had an absolute ball revisiting this film. As previously mentioned, I kind of enjoy Kurt Russell and when heís got his shtick down like he has in Used Cars, the result is generally lots of fun. Enjoy the film for what it is, a cheeky piece of í80s fun that demands very little in terms of viewing effort and gives a lot of laughs in return.

This budget DVD is great value for money too, with a good video transfer, a surprisingly decent mono soundtrack and an excellent batch of extras. Anyone willing to part with a bit of spare change should be quite satisfied.

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      And I quote...
    "...a cheeky piece of '80s fun that demands very little in terms of viewing effort and gives a lot of laughs in return."
    - Ben Pollock
      Review Equipment
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    • TV:
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    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
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    • Audio Cables:
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    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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