Thursday, January 14, 2010

D.C. Cab (1983)

If I told you of an 80s ensemble comedy starring Paul Rodriguez, Bill Maher, Adam Baldwin, Mr. T and Gary Busey directed by Joel Schumacher, you'd probably think I was lying, right? WRONG! It's so strange you would have to accept it were real. Who would make this up? Actually, lots of people. But they don't have the creativity to conceive of the bizarre collaboration of as-yet successful actors that is D.C. Cab.

It tells the story of a misfit group of taxi drivers in the Washington D.C. area. They are rude, inefficient, lazy, and probably smell. Their job at the cab company is only a temporary gig, serving as an inconsistent source of petty cash until they win the lottery or hit it big with a marginally successful film career, political talk show, or short-lived Joss Whedon sassy sci-fi FOX vehicle.

[Firefly reference]

Through the obligatory but overly long opening montage, Schumacher makes sure to introduce each character in the briefest and most muddled (bruddled) way possible, assuring the audience of their zaniness without committing to unique character traits or funny jokes. Black stereotype, Latino stereotype, redneck stereotype. It's "Taxi" in even broader strokes. Thankyouverymuch. In Bill Maher's introduction, he mumbles inarticulate and underdeveloped political commentary in front of the White House, offering an eerie prediction of his future career.

Maher meets his dealer (above).

Albert Hockenberry (played by a young and pompadoured Adam Baldwin) arrives in Washington to seek a job with Harold (Max Gail), his father's old Nam buddy. Despite good looks and lack of obvious mental illness, Albert's dream is to run his own cab company. He befriends each stereotyped cabbie with open arms (an uncharacteristic act of multiculturalism and global citizenship), hoping to learn the tricks of the trade (drive car, take money, etc.). He becomes especially close to Tyrone (Charlie Barnett), a smart, gentle soul who for reasons unknown acts like a raging obnoxious black stereotype. At one point he reveals his true nature to prove that if he acts like a stereotype and you treat him like a stereotype then you're bad. He also loves the word "honky" which apparently was still widely used in 1983 (by Richard Pryor).

Racism is terrible (unless it's directed toward Asians).

Once all 786 characters are adequately introduced, D.C. Cab turns into your typical underdog story. The ragtag cabbies compete with the vastly superior Emerald Cab Company, until some huge setback knocks the wind from their sails. Then Albert is kidnapped with Harry and Hermoine, and the cabbies must save their friend before the police can... do something bad.

Damn Colloportus spell!

Despite a dull plot and sorry attempts at zany shock comedy, D.C. Cab does have its bright spots. Primarily Gary Busey, whose presence automatically makes everything at least four times better. In an about face from his typical roles, Busey plays a crazy guy who says funny things.

Harry and Hermoine are also reasonably funny. Their shtick is, as the children of rich parents, they're kidnapped all the time, so they go through what should be a traumatic experience with routine nonchalance.

D.C. Cab is worth worth watching in a "it's 3 A.M. and nothing else is on STARZ" kind of way, if only as a time capsule of 80s nostalgia and a glimpse into the career of Gary Busey before he went full-blown Heaven's Gate crazy.

Quotable quotes (exclusive Busey edition):
"Just doing some intestinal yoga."

"You're lucky those pork chops didn't shoot you and say you was crazy on PCP cuz thats what they say about everybody they shoot and I think they're lacing the bullets with PCP cuz then they got an alibi for killin' everybody! Think about that!"

"If I wanted responsibility I'd a been a damn sex surrogate!"

"Albert doesn't have no political convictions. He's an American!"

"Hey you know Bruce Lee he ain't dead. They got him kryptonized down in Chadsworth. He's jammed in a silo and frozen hard as a carp and they're gonna melt him down as soon as the economy gets better."

"Why are women so uptight? They got half the money and all of the pussy!"
Arbitrary rating system:

(3 1/3 Buseyheads)

1 comment:

  1. The credits make it look like most of the stars died immediately following their involvement with this movie.