Used Cars

1980

Used Cars

Critics Consensus

Robert Zemeckis' pitch-black satire of American culture doesn't always hit the mark, but it's got enough manic comic energy to warrant a spin.

77%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 30

69%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 7,848
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Used Cars Photos

Movie Info

Used Cars is one of Robert Zemeckis' pre-Roger Rabbit and pre-Forrest Gump efforts starring Kurt Russell is a devious car salesman who goes to work for affable but monumentally unsuccessful used car dealer Jack Warden. Warden's principal rival is his more prosperous twin brother, also played by Warden, who schemes to take over the "good" brother's lot. After a series of raunchy vignettes, the film boils down to an every-man-for-himself price war between the two Wardens, which rages on even after we're one Warden short. The supporting cast of Used Cars is populated by such reliables as David L. Lander, Michael McKean, Al Lewis, Dub Taylor, Dick Miller and Betty Thomas.

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Cast

Jack Warden
as Roy L. Fuchs/Luke Fuchs
Kurt Russell
as Rudy Russo
Frank McRae
as Jim, the Mechanic
Deborah Harmon
as Barbara Fuchs
Joe Flaherty
as Sam Slaton
Michael McKean
as Eddie Winslow
David L. Lander
as Freddie Paris
Al Lewis
as Judge Harrison
Woodrow Parfrey
as Mr. Chertner
Dub Taylor
as Tucker
Dan Barrows
as Stanley Dewoski
Marc McClure
as Heavy Duty Dubois
Susan Donovan
as Charlie's Wife
Don Ruskin
as Fuchs' Salesman
Jan Sandwich
as Al's Wife
Russ Fega
as Bus Boy
Tiny Wells
as Food Giant
Patrick McMorrow
as Mr. O'Hara
Joseph Barnaba
as Mr. Douglas
Diane Hill
as Mrs. Douglas
Sam Ingraffia
as Court Assistant
Dick Miller
as Man In Bed
Wendie Jo Sperber
as Nervous Nona
Rita Taggart
as Woman In Bed
Dave Herrera
as Mr. Lopez
Dave Adams
as Video Technician
Sandy Gibbons
as Cop at Roadblock
Walter Jackson
as Mr. Jackson
Mildred Brion
as Little Old Lady
Gene Blakely
as Mr. Books
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Critic Reviews for Used Cars

All Critics (30) | Top Critics (7)

  • This classic screwball fantasy is like a more restless and visually high-spirited version of the W. C. Fields pictures.

    Jan 2, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Director/co-writer Robert Zemeckis has undeniable energy and flair, but it's being misspent on pretexts and situations that seem inexcusably gratuitous and snide.

    Oct 2, 2015 | Full Review…
  • Most of the time, I didn't know whether to laugh or shudder, and I ended up doing a lot of both.

    Oct 2, 2015 | Full Review…
  • What might have looked like a great idea on paper has been tackled by filmmakers who haven't expanded it much beyond the one joke inherent in the premise.

    Mar 26, 2009 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • Used Cars runs on a contemporary screwball motor with a slapstick chassis.

    Feb 9, 2006 | Full Review…

    Tom Charity

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Used Cars was written, directed, and produced by the team of Bob Zemeckis and Bob Gale, two young filmmakers who seem to be higher on kinetic energy than on structure and comedic instinct.

    Oct 23, 2004 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Used Cars

  • Jan 19, 2016
    A comedy about lying is difficult to approve of and yet Zemeckis' team and presentation will at least have you consider it's viability. The fantasy, about two used car dealerships vying for dominance in the desert Southwest, is a decent platform for the general thesis, a natural one. Where else does one expect lying as a given (and don't say politics or prostitution, cause that's too easy)? Sure, like lying, they go a little overboard, but it's all in good fun.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Mar 14, 2012
    Man, what is up with Bob Zemeckis and cars... as well as subtle visual effects, sweeping camera shots, not-too-distant period pieces (I know "Beowulf" looks like it takes place in ye olde Europe, but I'm pretty sure they didn't invent the curves Angie Jolie's character had in that film until the 1900s) and cartoons? I think he just likes cartoons because of the "car" at the beginning of the word, because first, he makes the ultimate DeLorean commercial, "Back to the Future", and now he's dishing out this little number. Yes, I'm aware that this film came out five years before "Back to the Future", but I imagine that Zemeckis traveled back in time after he made "BTF" and made this film, right before he investigated a murder they believe was done by a cartoon, contacted aliens, got stuck on an island for three years and learned the true meaning of Christmas while in animated form twice, because I like to think that directors actually do stuff that's in their movies. Hey, I'm not completely off, because David Fincher, like Mark Zuckerberg in "The Social Network", appears to have some degree of aspergers. Actually, I'm not going to say that the Finch has aspergers, and not just because I wouldn't want to offend the greatest director alive or because he might get mad and pummel my face to the point of swelling like in "Fight Club" (Come on, now we can't afford to destroy something this beauti...I'm sorry I can't even type that with a straight face, if you want to call what I have a face), but because when you look at "Se7en" and see how he just let Brad Pitt go ahead with his "acting" during the "Box" scene, he clearly has a sense of humor. Well, I guess that it's safe to say that Bob Zemeckis is way out of the clear when it comes to having aspergers, because, woah boy, does he have a sense of humor. Still, as much as this film "drives" home the laughs, it gets there a little slowly. In recent years, Bob Zemeckis has become an excellent, very diverse filmmaker, but, when he was coming up, I hate to say it, but he just made the same-old-same-old, and sure enough this is the same-old-same-old. It's about as slow, underdeveloped and plagued with somewhat unlikable leads as your usual early Zemeckis farce. Still, there are some new aspects to the film, only a couple of those aspects aren't terribly welcomed, such as a lack of narrative. By that, I mean that the film's storytelling lacks oomph and resonance, limping along with no real feeling of progression or, for that matter, point. It's an aimless film, yet not the same way something like "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" is aimless, where it's just one comedic set piece after another, because this film is with a story; not much of one, but a story nevertheless, and with an emotionally-lacking execution of that story, as well as the typical slow, underdeveloped and disconnecting moments found in an early Zemeckis farce further diluting the momentum of the film, mediocrity - at best - is all too predictable of a result. Of course, really, at this point, do I really have to tell you guys that Zemeckis more than bypasses mediocrity yet again? It's not a knockout, nor is it that film that gives us the taste of Zemeckis' fabulous new style that could have helped it even more, yet, at the end of the day, the film is saved by the fact that Zemeckis sells his jokes like the people in the film sells their cars: Through some dirty, crude tricks, yet ones that you just can't resist. As much as I complain about this being a very conventional early Zemeckis comedy, outside of the premise and limp storytelling, something that's different about this film is the fact it's jokes are more mean-spirited and discomforting than ever. We're talking shock value after shock value, maybe not to a new "South Park" level, where two minutes in, you know that it's not going to anywhere but down, what with its absence of any versatility in the humor (Sorry fans of the newer episodes of "South Park", maybe you just need to get better taste), but you're bound to feel a little uncomfortable here and there. Of course, even if the film's shock value was as relentlessly one-note as that of "South Park", Zemeckis would still win you over, because although he never really killed it dead with his comedy, he consistently charmed. Well, sure enough, regardless of its ulikable characters and shock value, the film still delivers on enough charm to keep you going, if not just laughing yourself silly. For that, props to the performers, none of whom I can praise enough; and no, by that, I don't mean that they're giving masterful performances, I mean that I seem to always have to praise actors in a movie, even a comedy. Of course, there's always a reason for that, just like there's a reason now, and that reason is that this cast, while nothing to write home about, is colorful and jam-packed with charisma. Really, there's not a whole lot to praise about this film, yet it's not aiming to recieve high praise; just to charm the audience and leave it ultimately rewarded for their viewing, and when it comes to that, this film does its job well while growing more and more lively and entertaining at it progresses to really reward the audience, as you would expect it to, considering Zemeckis' name on it, because as we all know, anything with Zemeckis' name on it doesn't stand a chance of slipping u-oh wait, "1941"; nice going, Spielberg, maybe you should just leave your buddy's/counterpart's scripts in his hands. At the end of this big blowout, don't expect to drive off satisfied from a substance standpoint, not just because of the underdevelopment, unlikable characters and frequent slowness that you usually found in some of Zemeckis' early work, but because of the limp storytelling, yet when it comes to a comedic standpoint, it delivers as sharpy as your typical classic Robert Zemeckis comedy, featuring all of the charm in both the direction and colorful cast that ultimately leaves "Used Cars" to, like Zemeckis' other early cruises down comedy road, leave you generally satisfied when it comes to your humor quota. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Sep 06, 2010
    A hilarious adventure comedy with a good story. I loved it.
    Aj V Super Reviewer
  • Oct 29, 2009
    80's classic ,one of kurt russel and robert zemeckis forgotten gems.Ok its dated but they dont make them like this anymore,not even the recent "the goods,live hard,sell hard can beat this.....find it and watch it now..
    Brian D Super Reviewer

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