‘Used Cars’ is Robert Zemeckis’s second film, released in 1980, two years are his similarly little-seen debut ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’. It was written By Zemeckis and Bob Gale, who would later write ‘Back to the Future’ together. It proved unsuccessful at the box office, and Zemeckis would have to wait three more years for his breakthrough, ‘Romancing the Stone’. It’s a mostly broad, but occasionally risqué comedy set in the world of used car dealerships.
Kurt Russell stars as a slick-talking salesman, unafraid to basically con his customers into buying worthless vehicles, but harbouring political ambitions. He works for the elderly Luke Fuchs (Jack Warden), whose awful younger brother, Roy L. Fuchs (also Warden), is desperate to see the end of in order to inherit the used car lot. Roy L. resorts to exploiting Luke’s existing heart condition to kill him, but Russell, realising the murder, decides to hide the body and prevent the business from going to Roy.
There are a few good laughs to be had as the two rival car dealerships resort to increasingly absurd measures to gain customers, providing some amusing commentary on the materialistic pursuit of the American dream.
‘Used Cars’ starts off rather well, but after an hour or so begins to add in more sub-plots to its detriment. More known for his action hero roles in the 80s, Russell makes a good comic lead, but ‘Used Cars’ isn’t in the same league as many of the films Zemeckis would go on to produce later in his career.
‘The Lesser Seen’ is a feature in which I highlight a lower-profile film or two by a well-known director.