A Movie A Day: Quint on MOVING VIOLATIONS (1985) Why is my back all wet?
Published at: July 21, 2008, 7:24 a.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.]
Cinematographer Robert Elswit connects us from yesterday’s 1985 comedy THE SURE THING to today’s 1985 comedy MOVING VIOLATIONS.
This film comes from the creators of POLICE ACADEMY. If you didn’t see that on the DVD cover you’d see that within 5 minutes of the flick.
I won’t say that there’s not any enjoyment to be had out of this movie, but it is so very clearly set on the “Hey, Police Academy worked. Rinse, wash, repeat…” setting. So, we take Police Academy and… wait for it… set it at a traffic school! Bang! Instant bucks!
And we’ll get Bill Murray to star! Wait, GHOSTBUSTERS made a shitload of money. We can’t get Bill Murray. Can we get someone that will act and sound exactly like him… doesn’t he have a brother? Bingo!
That might be a little harsh. John Murray does try his hardest, but I get the feeling that he isn’t exactly like his brother and that’s what the producers wanted because he’s essentially playing Bill Murray playing the character, Dana Cannon. I quite liked what he did in SCROOGED, actually playing Murray’s brother, so no offense to him as an actor, but I think he got shafted a bit.
Instead of GW Baily we have James Keach, the tight-ass highway patrolman who bumps heads with Murray throughout the flick. Keach is good in the role, but suffers a bit from the same thing that John Murray does. You get the feeling that the producers wanted Stacy and then just settled for his brother, making him play his more famous sibling.
I’m making it sound like I hated this movie… I didn’t. There are some fun gags and Murray is charming, if not a carbon copy, in the lead. There’s a great cast of character actors here, including Brian Backer (remember him? He was the geek that fell in love with Jennifer Jason Leigh in FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH), Jennifer Tilly (cast as a rocket scientist, no less), Wendie Jo Sperber as a hypocondriac, Fred Willard as a double-entendre spewing mechanic/scientist guy, Ned Eisenberg as an unapologetic gore hound that gets off on the horrible warning videos shown to the class and Sally Kellerman as a dirty (in more ways than one) judge.
Also look out for Don Cheadle in an early, early role as a fast food clerk at a drive-thru, Brent Chalem (Horace from The Monster Squad) as one of the children victims of the inattentive driver in the PSA shown to the class and the Where's the Beef lady as the best friend to the old Mrs. Houk (Nedra Volz), a damn near blind senior citizen and one of the funniest parts of the movie. The scene where she is found trying to piss in the men's urinal did get me to laugh (that's her line in the subhead), but I love toilet humor.
Final Thoughts: The movie’s a formula that was already getting old when it came out and now after a hundred sequels and ripoffs of POLICE ACADEMY it’s even more out of touch. But there is a charm to it, something that could be ‘80s nostalgia for me or seeing Murray trying to do his best Bill. I won’t deny the movie did get a few laughs out of me (usually when James Keach was being a dick) and '80s Jennifer Tilly is ALWAYS worth watching, but I can’t say I enjoyed it enough to ever go out of my way to watch it again.