When elderly Luke Fuchs (Jack Warden), owner of the struggling New Deal Used Car lot dies of a heart attack, hot-shot salesman (and aspiring senator) Rudy Russo (Kurt Russell), decides to save the property from falling into the hands of Luke’s ruthless younger brother and used-car rival Roy L. Fuchs (also Warden), whose own used car lot is under threat of demolition to facilitate the construction of a proposed new freeway exit. An all-out war breaks out between the competing car lots with Russo resorting to extremely outrageous customer-getting schemes in order to save Luke’s lot, complicated even more with the arrival of Luke’s daughter Barbara Jane Fuchs.
American director Robert Zemeckis studied filmmaking at Northern Illinois University, and then got his start with a job with the film editing department at WMAQ-TV, Chicago’s NBC flagship station. After commercial work, Zemeckis and his friend and collaborator, Bob Gale, became assistants to Steven Spielberg. It was Spielberg who lined up Zemeckis’ first directing job, the 1977 comedy/nostalgia blend I Wanna Hold Your Hand; despite the film’s low budget, it demonstrated Zemeckis’ ability to combine credible live-action sequences with elaborate special effects devices. Spielberg next had Zemeckis and Gale work on the screenplay of 1941 (1979), which, despite its disappointing box-office returns, convinced the young director that his protegés were valuable commodities.
Working again under Spielberg’s aegis, Zemeckis directed his first real financial success, Romancing the Stone (1981), a wild adventure yarn that somehow never lost sight of its sense of humor. The director then… read more
It's bizarre seeing Zemeckis/Gale totally indulge in their MAD Magazine sensibilities after growing up on the Back to the Future films and Roger Rabbit. There's a palpable sense of sleaze running through every frame and Russell gives a killer performance selling it. It excels on a gag-by-gag basis (the superstition blow out in the bar is the MVP) but falls apart when it reverts back to its conventional story.
Almost worth an extra star just for the great '80s cable TV memories this movie evokes! But I'll stick with a more sensible 3. Loved it as a teenager and while I still have a nostalgic soft spot for it, I re-watched it just last year for the first time in many years and it didn't quite hold up as well as I hoped it would. While flawed and somewhat dated, it's still VERY funny at times and has lots of classic lines!