Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Frank Review of "D.C. Cab" (1983)

The Short Version? Dirty cabbies rock the capitol.
What Is It? Ensemble Comedy.
Who's In It? Only the worst 70s/80s TV personalities.
Should I See It? No.

I remember watching this movie as a kid at a dollar cinema in 1984. The opening "Star Wars" riffing trawl and the spooky night sequence drew me right in, until the comedy stylings of Charlie Barnett completely sold me. Further, this was the inspirational story of a Vietnam vet and his dead buddy's son turning around a bottom-feeding cab company. How could you lose with such a fantastic ensemble of luminaries like Max "Wojo" Gail, Mr. T., Paul Rodriguez, Whitman "Grady" Mayo, Bill Maher, and the Barbarian Brothers?

In 1984 with an idiot kid, you couldn't. In 2009? Big, big loss.

Written by a Joel Schumacher early in his direcing career and likely trying to recapture the magic of Carwash, D.C. Can is a monstrosity. A painfully young Adam Baldwin headlined the weak thread of a main story, while oversized TV and comedy club entertainers were expected to ad-lib their way to a funny movie. That expectation does not pan out, resulting instead in relentlessly obnoxious mugging for the camera. Falling back on the most tired of formulas, the movie drifts from one random episode into another until wrapping things up with everyone banding together to save our imperiled hero. There's lots of cursing, and an obligatory nude scene, capping D.C. Cab as the epitome of bad 1980s distractions that masquerade as humor.

All in all, the flick isn't completely worthless. Gary Busey has some good bits, while a young Marsha "Roz" Warfield offers both a solid dramatic performance and *gasp* some sex appeal. Scream Queen Jill Schoelen at 19 should have guys my age panting, and the soundtrack is surprisingly good. The movie, while still garbage, doesn't so much stab you in the eye as lap lazily against you. If you can allow yourself to passively idle on the beach along the vast ocean of 80s mediocrity, you could discard a small piece of your life with this flick. Otherwise, it should be avoided at all costs.

Speaking of the soundtrack, Irene Cara makes a cameo, and offers a memorable tune over the closing credits, "The Dream (Hold On To Your Dream...)"


wiec? said...

i too remember seeing this one at a young age. on cable though. it used to be on HBO or Showtime every other 5 minutes.i knew even at 12 or 13 it was pretty much crap. but i'd still sit through almost everytime it was on.

Diabolu Frank said...

In my defense, I went a good twenty years without seeing it before I picked it up at Big Lots for $3. I was still young n' dumb on last viewing, but you're right in it being palatable crap-- a cinematic Vienna Sausage.


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