A Movie A Day: Quint on CADILLAC MAN (1990) You’re an ass half. It takes two of you to make an ass-whole!
Published at: July 19, 2008, 1:31 p.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day.
[For those now joining us, A Movie A Day is my attempt at filling in gaps in my film knowledge. My DVD collection is thousands strong, many of them films I haven’t seen yet, but picked up as I scoured used DVD stores. Each day I’ll pull a previously unseen film from my collection and discuss it here. Each movie will have some sort of connection to the one before it, be it cast or crew member.]
Bridging yesterday’s KINGDOM OF HEAVEN: THE DIRECTOR’S CUT to today’s 1990 Robin Williams comedy CADILLAC MAN is casting director Debra Zane. It was a stretch, but there was a connection!
Over the next few days we spend some time in the ‘80s and late ‘70s before diving back down into noir and crime of the ‘40s and ‘50s. That’s one thing I really like about this list is we can go from studio comedy to obscure noir within a couple of moves. It’s like playing some weird movie chess or 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon.
Maybe the people in talkback warning me off of this movie played out in my favor, but I quite enjoyed this movie. It’s filled to the brim with nostalgic late ‘80s/early ‘90s cheese, pink neon, shoulder padded women’s business suits and Fran Drescher, which was probably also what led to my enjoyment as I have some good memories of comedies of this era, like the vastly under-appreciated and under-seen BACK TO THE BEACH.
Robin Williams is a used car salesman at the end of his rope. He has too many girlfriends, an ex-wife and such a strong desired to be… well, desired… that he spends all of his money on women. It’s not that he’s a man-whore… I take that back, he might be, but he’s not in it for the sex, but the emotional connection, so he’ll pay out the nose in order to be a girl’s savior and be wanted and desired for it.
One of the few women he hasn’t fucked, Donna (played by Annabella Sciorra), is having an affair with one of the other salesman at the used car lot and her near-retarded simple husband storms in one day with guns blazing, threatening to kill whomever is fucking his wife. It’s a sale day, so the place is packed and it turns into a hostage situation.
Tim Robbins plays the husband and maybe that also figures into my digging of this movie. I love crazy Tim Robbins, especially crazy ‘80s Tim Robbins. I’m not ashamed to admit my love for Howard The Duck and Robbins’ awesomely over-the-top performance in that movie. He's really likable in this movie, vulnerable and easily manipulated, but likable, like a big stupid dog that claims you as his own. Strange that this was only 2 years before THE PLAYER and BOB ROBERTS and only 4 years before SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION. What a fast climb to the top he had.
I even enjoyed Fran Drescher’s performance (and boobs… I was shocked to see her cha-chas at the beginning of the film) as one of Williams’ dames, a bored rich wife of a millionaire husband. Maybe she’s coasting off her good vibes from UHF or maybe it was just the boobs. Somehow she didn’t make me want to stick a knitting needle in my ear.
Also, playing to my late ‘80s/early ‘90s fetish side was the appearance of Lori Petty (in very sexy lingerie, I might add) as the quirky, arty girlfriend of Williams’ character. Goddamn, I had such a crush on her in this era… POINT BREAK, A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN… probably up until TANK GIRL… Big thing for her.
If you’ve been following along, you’ll also remember I’m fond of movies that break the fourth wall (ie speaking to the audience, looking directly into the camera) and they do that a lot here. THE MATCHMAKER did it so much better, but we are involved as voyeurs of this story.
Williams is still riding strong, enjoying the comedy of it. He should, as he did this right smack dab in-between DEAD POETS SOCIETY and AWAKENINGS. You can tell he loves what he does and there’s an innocent way he uses R-rated language that I miss from him today. There’s also a dead-man’s blank stare in his eyes he has in his comedy work today and seeing him so vibrant and alive, light sparkling in each eye-ball, really emphasizes just how much I miss that Robin Williams.
It was good seeing his stand-up a few years back, but damn… I wish he’d do another comedy that’s not some safe homogenized studio family comedy shit. He goes for edgy and interesting indie serious roles, why not some comedy? The last time I can remember that light and him doing R-rated comedy was DEATH TO SMOOCHY. I don't care what everybody else on this planet says, Rainbow Randolph was awesome.
Final Thoughts: Roger Donaldson (THE BOUNTY, COCKTAIL, SPECIES, THE BANK JOB) directed and Ken Friedman (JOHNNY HANDSOME) scripted, making a flick that is light on story, heavy on convenience, but also full of interesting characters and made me laugh a whole lot some 18 years after it was released. It’s not for everybody, but if you have an ‘80s comedy, Lori Petty or hairy-knuckled still-alive-in-the-eyes Robin Williams fetish, then give it a shot.