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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Used Cars (1980)


Starring: Kurt Russell, Jack Warden, Gerrit Graham and Deborah Harmon
Distributor: Eureka Entertainment
RRP: £17.99


Certificate: 15
Release Date: 12 August 2019

Eureka Entertainment release Used Cars, Robert Zemeckis’s '80s screwball comedy starring Kurt Russell and Jack Warden, for the first time on Blu-ray in the UK as part of the Eureka Classics range. Rudy Russo is the the top salesmen at the New Deal used car lot run by Luke Fuchs. Caught up in a crazy feud between Luke and his brother Roy, who runs the rival car lot across the street, Rudy must put his grifting skills into overdrive as the battle for sales supremacy escalates into all-out war...

Like a lot of films, when you strip down Used Cars to its chassis, you soon discover it has a paper thin plot. One group of corrupt used car salesmen try to outdo an even more unscrupulous group of used car sales men, with hilarious(?) consequences... and that's pretty much it.

Okay, along the way we get a love interest, a political ambition (that just seems odd and rather pointless) a death and a screwball race to outwit the law... but it all seems so... well... '80s. There's plenty of swearing, a bit of gratuitous nudity and some insane stunts (some of which would not be allowed in the current era of health and safety conscious production).

The PR blurb states that: "Under-appreciated on release, Used Cars is now recognised as one of the funniest comedies of the 1980s." It's not actually that funny, just rather silly and the outdated sexism not only dates the film, but also makes parts of it embarrassing to watch today.

The Blu-ray comes with an interesting 28 page booklet which gives plenty of background of the origins and making of the film. There's even a note on how to ensure that your TV set up is right in order to view the movie as intended.

The film is presented in 1080p with options for uncompressed LPCM (original mono presentation) and DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio. There's also optional English SDH subtitles.

Extras include an Audio Commentary with director Robert Zemeckis, producer/co-writer Bob Gale, and star Kurt Russell (which appears to have been recorded in 2002 - presumably for the DVD release); Isolated Score Track (Patrick Williams score); Isolated Score Track (Unused Ernest Gold score); Would You Buy a Used Car from These Men? – Getting Used Cars Made with Producer Bob Gale (27 min, 11 sec); Radio Interview with Kurt Russell (5 min, 03 sec); Promo Spots (7 min, 57 sec); Outtakes and Gag Reel (4 min, 29 sec); Stills Galleries Featuring Rare Promotional Materials (Action and Stunts; Unused Ad Concepts; Behind the Scenes; Posters and Lobby Cards); Kurt Russell ‘Chrysler’ TV Spot (32 sec); and Original Theatrical Trailer (1 min, 50 sec).

There are quite a few interesting pieces of information in the audio commentary (if you can get past the fact that Gale and Zemeckis find the film way funnier than they should - laughing their way through the entire proceedings). They point out the fact that on the very first shot you can see the sound guy and his boom mic in the mirror of the car; the brief appearance of Alfonso Arau, who would go on to direct movies including Like Water for Chocolate (1992); the fact that the late John Candy was originally cast as Sam (the part eventually played by Joe Flaherty) but he couldn't take up the role as his agent had double booked him; and the appearance of the late Wendie Jo Sperber, who would later play Marty's sister, Linda, in Gale and Zemeckis's Back to the Future trilogy.

Not exactly a classic, but for those who fondly remember this film, you finally get the opportunity to own it on Blu-ray.


Nick Smithson

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