Saturday, February 17, 2007

Moving Violations:

YouTube has uploaded, in ten minute increments, the entire cult comedy classic from the '80s, Moving Violations. It was a "cult" classic because it never made a big impact like Stripes, Police Academy, Up in Smoke, or Bachelor Party. It came out in 1985 after those movies and was sort of a "knock off" of all of them. But, because it didn't just knock off one movie, it synthesized those movies, using mostly classic 80s "B" actors. The movie was directed by Neal Israel who also directed Bachelor Party.

I watched this movie so many times on Prism (a now defunct cable channel which was like a local Philadelphia HBO) growing up in the 80s.

The movie is about a bunch of bad drivers who get forced to go to "traffic school" which is run by crooked cops and a judge intent failing the violators so they can sell their impounded vehicles and run off with the profits.

The star was John Murray, Bill Murray's other brother. It's not surprising why he, unlike Brian Doyle, hasn't made many movies; he's not that good of an actor, but I thought he was funny here. He's clearly playing a cross between Bill's character in Stripes and "Mahoney" from Police Academy. Stacy Keach's brother James plays the crooked cop/bad guy. He obviously patterned his performance after his brother's brilliant Sgt. Stetenko from Up in Smoke. The late great Wendy Jo Sperber starred in Bosom Buddies with Tom Hanks and then made Bachelor Party with Hanks as well. She gives a great performance (see below) in this flick. The movie also starred Brian Backer who played Mark Ratner in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Nedra Volz, who played the maid Adelaide Brubaker on Different Strokes. In fact Clara Peller of Wendy's "Where's the Beef?" fame has a cameo. Sally Kellerman plays a crooked judge and Fred Willard plays the owner of an auto-shop. Finally, this was one of Jennifer Tilly's earliest roles.

This movie perfectly typifies 1980s comedy even if it was not a first rate smash. The following scene between Wendy Jo Sperber and Fred Willard is, as one of the commenters on YouTube put it, "one of the funniest, most underrated 'misunderstanding' dialog scenes in comedy film history...." Also look out for the scene with Nedra Volz in the men's room. Priceless!

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