Tag Archives: Anne De Salvo

D.C. Cab (1983)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Loser cab drivers unite.

In a long ago and far away time before there was Uber or Lyft and taxi cabs where the only service there’s a story of Albert (Adam Baldwin) a young man who comes to Washington D.C. looking to start up his own cab company, but finds it to be more difficult than he thought. He gets a job with Harold (Max Gail) who runs a cab company that is sinking fast and could get shut down. Albert motivates the other drivers to work together to help save the company and in return they help save him when he gets kidnapped.

The idea of having a story set in the nation’s capital and not having it centered around politics is probably the only novel thing about this film that is otherwise crude and obnoxious with characters that are embarrassingly moronic. Writer/director Joel Schumacher seems to want to sink to the lowest common denominator with each and every shot and in that regard he succeeds brilliantly.

The film’s grimy look helps accentuate the low class farce especially the incredibly tattered shape of the cabs that Harold’s employees drive around in. I realize this was for comic effect, but it goes overboard. There is absolutely no way anyone, no matter how desperate would want to take a ride in one of those things that look they are ready to fall apart at any second. The viewer can’t have much empathy for someone, even as likable as Harold is, who takes such little pride in his company’s product or dumb enough to expect people would consider his business with the vehicles looking the way they do when they are clearly other better competitors to choose from. In reality the vehicles would’ve been considered an obvious road hazard and impounded by the cops almost immediately anyways.

The film tried to feed off of Mr. T’s then popularity by billing him as the star during its promotion, but his screen time is limited. Baldwin is the actual star even though he is incredibly dull and says or does nothing that is funny or amusing. His character arch where he goes from quiet, passive schmuck to inspiring speaker, as he tries to motivate the other drivers, is too extreme. Jim Carrey had auditioned for the role and wanted the part, but Schumacher turned him because he felt he was too talented to be a part of an ensemble cast, which he probably was, but his presence could’ve helped a lot nonetheless.

Gail comes off best and should’ve been the lead, but since he was over 40 and the producers where aiming for a younger demographic he gets unfairly relegated to supporting status. His character’s relationship with his cold, bitchy wife, played by Anne De Salvo, offers a few chuckles particularly the scene where she locks herself in her house and wards off everyone else from entering by aiming a blow torch out of her bedroom window.

Seeing Bill Maher or Jill Schoelen in their film debuts might pique the interest of some, but the plot itself is too unfocused and goes off on too many different tangents with loosely connected story threads put in simply to pad the running time. The only really funny moment comes when a car crashes through a drive-in movie screen as it shows another movie dealing with a completely different car chase. I also liked the scene with Timothy Carey that comes after the credits are over, but otherwise this is one cab ride that’s not worth its fare.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: December 16, 1983

Runtime: 1Hour 39Minutes

Rated R

Director: Joel Schumacher

Studio: Universal

Available: DVD, Amazon Video, YouTube

Burglar (1987)

burglar

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Burglar witnesses a murder.

Bernice who goes by the nickname of Bernie (Whoopi Goldberg) is a cat burglar who gets hired by a dentist named Cynthia Sheldrake (Lesley Ann Warren) who wants Bernie to rob her ex-husband’s apartment and steal back her jewelry. When Bernie enters the apartment she has to hide in the closet when the ex-husband comes home earlier than expected and it is there that she hears him get murdered. Cynthia implicates Bernie in the crime and it is up to Bernie to track down the real killer before the police catch up with her.

The usually entertaining Goldberg doesn’t seem right for the part, which was originally intended for Bruce Willis. Except for a few amusing moments she is not all that funny and seems to be coasting most of the way and even out-of-place. For some reason she wears blue contacts and they look hideous. She also seems just a bit too nice for a career criminal that has spent time in jail and should be little more rough-around-the-edges. Having her constantly concerned about doing the ‘ethical’ thing and only robbing those that ‘deserve’ it doesn’t quite jive.

Bobcat Goldthwait as her dog groomer friend Carl is more of distraction than anything. His quivering, high pitch schtick comes off like someone with a serious psychological or physical problem and more creepy than funny. His line stating that drinking olive oil before drinking alcohol will prevent one from getting drunk later became the amusing basis for the film Calling Bobcat.

The supporting cast ends up being funnier than the two leads. John Goodman and Anne De Salvo have a few good moments as a bickering and perpetually perplexed cop duo. Warren is also good as an all-around bitch and all three performers deserved more screen time.

The film features Whoopi riding a motorcycle and being chased by police down the hilly, winding streets of San Francisco, which to an extent resembled the chase sequence in What’s Up Doc?. However, the chase is so poorly photographed and edited that it becomes hard to follow and nothing more than a collage of jump cuts.

There is another scene where the police try to enter her apartment which is equipped with a steal door, all sorts of booby traps and even a hidden room. On one hand this is kind of funny, but on the other it is wholly unrealistic. If this had occurred in a house that she owned I might have bought into it, but I would think that the noisy construction of all these contraptions would have had her reported to the landlord and she would have been evicted. Also, how is one able to build a hidden room in an apartment building without it affecting the neighboring tenants? There is also the issue that she states earlier that she had just been released from jail, so where did she find the time to build all this stuff?

The story itself lacks intrigue, relies too much on coincidence and eventually becomes implausible. I liked the use of the Bay area locations particularly the fog setting at the end, but otherwise this is just a bunch of overblown nonsense.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: March 20, 1987

Runtime: 1Hour 44Minutes

Rated R

Director: Hugh Wilson

Studio: Warner Brothers

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video

Bad Manners (1984)

bad manners 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Orphans on the loose.

Piper (Greg Olden) is the new kid inside a rough orphanage who befriends Mouse (Michael Hentz) who looks up to Piper as a sort of tough guy hero. When Mouse gets adopted by a snotty rich couple (Martin Mull, Karen Black) Piper convinces the orphans to break out of the orphanage and rescue him.

If there is one thing that can be said for this film, which is so obscure it is not even listed in Leonard Maltin’s Video Guide, is that it is lively. Director Robert Houston uses a lot of quick edits, interesting camera work and spinning tracking shots to keep things at a fast, irreverent pace. Piper’s sessions with his psychiatrist, which is played by Stephen Stucker is the funniest. Stucker is best known for playing the hyper air traffic controller in Airplane, but I felt he was more engaging and amusing here. The scene where Mouse swallows a small dinner bell and sends everyone into a panic is also a riot.

Unfortunately the film is unable to hold the balance between quirky humor and action and eventually devolves into a cartoonish, silly mess that becomes pretty much just an R-rated kiddie flick. I also didn’t care for the synthesized music score, which had a generic sound similar to ones used in 80’s porn flicks and only further cemented this as an uninspired B-movie.

The children characters are excessively crude and in some ways I prefer it a little more like this because I think it is realistic to how teens and pre-teens behave instead of as the wide-eyed sweet innocents that some other movies portray them as, but parents most likely will cringe and won’t want their own kids to watch it. A mean-spiritedness permeates throughout and although I am not sure if this was intentional or not but the two male leads and the one female are quite androgynous.

The one thing that keeps it fun is the adult performers who seem more than up to the campiness. Murphy Dunne is delightfully hammy as the orphanage warden and Anne De Salvo is quite cute despite playing an oppressive nun. Mull’s glib one-liners are a perfect balance to the zaniness. Black is also great and practically steals the film at the very end when she goes on a spastic shooting spree. This also marks the final film appearance of Richard Deacon best known for playing Mel Cooley on ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’ who appears here in a brief bit as a ticket agent.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Alternate Title: Growing Pains

Released: November 4, 1984

Runtime: 1Hour 22Minutes

Rated R

Director: Robert Houston

Studio: New World Pictures

Available: VHS, YouTube