Universal Pictures/The Guber-Peters Company/RKO Pictures
Directed by Joel Schumacher
Produced by Topper Carew
Screenplay by Joel Schumacher
Story by Topper Carew/Joel Schumacher
Music by Giorgio Moroder
Cinematography by Dean Cundey
Edited by David E. Blewitt
Recently I was involved in a discussion in a Facebook group about the animated television show “Archer” where I stated that I had no desire to watch it as it didn’t strike me as being funny at all. Another member of the group responded that they honestly wondered what sort of sense of humor I had. It’s simple: I laugh at what strikes me as being funny. And I freely admit that a lot of my appreciation of humor is rooted in the comedy of the 1970s and 1980s which is compared to what I consider to be today’s blandly juvenile standards of humor; crude, racist, sexist, hateful, mean and oftentimes cruel. But damn if it doesn’t make me laugh until my sides hurt.
And that’s one reason why I love D.C. CAB. It’s highly offensive at times and unashamedly exploitative. Example: there’s a scene where cab driver Dell (Gary Busey) bumrushes a strip club and snatches the money-stuffed bikini bottom off of one of the waitresses who has stiffed him on a fare and she chases him buck nekkid out into the street trying to get her money back. There’s also a scene where Dell explains to Albert Hockenberry (Adam Baldwin) why he picks up black passengers: the revolution is coming and Dell intends to be in good with the “nigs” when it happens and intends to be their “token white boy.” Right about now you should have decided if this is a movie you want to see.
It’s Albert Hockenberry who gets the plot going when he hitchhikes to the nation’s capital to hookup with his father’s Vietnam buddy, Harold Oswelt (Max Gail) who owns and runs the cab company D.C. Cab. In the words of Harold’s best driver Ophelia (Marsha Warfield) it’s staffed by weirdoes, misfits, the insane, the lost and the losers. They’re no competition for the Emerald Cab company who have brand new luxury cabs, spiffy uniforms and pay off the cab commission in order to secure the most lucrative contracts to exclusively service all the airports and hotels. In return, D.C. Cab has to resort to the dirtiest and most underhanded of tricks and scams to stay in business. And they do it in hilarious ways that are most entertaining to watch.
First off, I recommend the movie for the cast which is perhaps the most 1980s cast you’re ever going to find: Max Gail, Adam Baldwin, Mr. T, The Barbarian Brothers, Charlie Barnett, Marsha Warfield, DeWayne Jesse, Whitman Mayo, Anne DeSalvo, Irene Cara (who sings the theme song at the end of the movie) and Paul Rodriguez, all of who were nuclear hot at the time they made this movie. They all throw themselves into their roles with energy and gusto that more than makes up for any lack of acting talent and to me they all appeared to be having a great time making this movie.
This is the movie that has Gary Busey delivering the great “I don’t work on Elvis’ birthday” line. It’s got what is for me the best performance Bill Maher ever gave on screen when he tells Albert what The Big Fear is all about. And it has Charlie Barnett who in another reality had the career he deserved. I consider myself blessed to have seen Charlie Barnett several times during the late 1970s and early 1980s when he did his now legendary comedy routines in Manhattan’s Washington Square Park and I can tell you first hand that on his best day Charlie Barnett was funnier than anybody you can name this side of Richard Pryor. D.C. CAB isn’t the best of what Charlie Barnett was all about but I’m glad he’s in this movie so that people can at least get a taste of who and what he was to comedy.
And it’s one of the movies I point to when people want to bash Joel Schumacher for his “Batman” movies (which I enjoy, thank you every much) as an example that he is a solid filmmaker. D.C. CAB isn’t the best movie he’s made but it’s a movie with energy, excitement and it moves. It’s a great example of 1980s film making and it’s on that basis I recommend it. It’s also a great summer movie so if you’re home on a Friday or Saturday night and looking for something to watch that is fun, entertaining and a great throwback to an earlier era in movie comedy then D.C. CAB has my heartiest recommendation. Enjoy.