Customer Reviews: Car Wash
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I first saw this film when it came out in the theatres... I was ten (you do the math...) and it was one of those transgressive '70s comedies that all the kids in 5th and 6th grade were psyched to sneak into the theatres to see, all filled with sex and drugs and cuss words. I rented it recently because I was in the mood for some '70s exploit-o-kitsch, and was quite surprised at how much depth the film actually had. Written by future Hollywood honcho Joel Schumacher, "Car Wash" is a tragedy that masquerades as a farce, capturing the antics of a dozen clownish, stereotypical losers during a single day spent scrubbing cars at a grimy Los Angeles car wash. They lighten their work day through pranks, daydreams, slapstick and even a little bit of sex, drugs and sweet, funky music. (The theme song by Rose Royce remains one of the best disco-era pop tunes.) Behind the comedic facade, though, lies an earnest exploration of the sadness of a truly dead-end job, and by the film's end, its true heroes are revealed as Abdullah (Bill Duke), an angry, humorless African-American Muslim who is the butt of everyone else's jokes, and Lonnie, the underpaid, ex-con foreman of the gang, who are the only ones facing up to the harshness of their economic situation. They're just trying to hang on to their dignity and not slip through the cracks, while all the other guys have pretty much given up, or just don't care. Admittedly, there's an whiff of condescention to the script, and a film-schoolish formalism to its dualistic structure, but there's also a surprisingly sincere, substantive human element. What seems like an "Saturday Night Live-" ish, sketch-based light comedy is actually kind of a painful film at heart. Interestingly enough, the taboo titillations that drew us kiddies to the film back in the day are actually the parts that don't hold up -- George Carlin's episodic gag routines as a foul-mouthed cabbie tracking down a prostitute who skipped out on her fare all fall flat: there's no there there. (Richard Pryor, however, turns in a nice, succinct cameo as a flashy, pimp-suited televangelist who takes his stretch limo through the carwash, and spars with Abdullah about his supposed obligations to the community...) At any rate, the swearing and crass sex gags have largely lost their power to shock (what sounded so nasty back in '76 seems pretty tame now, in comparison to what you can see on TV or even in PG films...) but the film itself is still worth checking out. It captures a certain slice of the 'Seventies, a low-key, unassuming grittiness that didn't rely on the shock tactics of the era's crime films and yet gives us a pretty honest picture of what folks were going through back in a decade of recession, disillusionment and indulgence.
22 comments| 75 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on June 22, 2009
I've been a fan of Car Wash since it came out in the theater when I was a teen. It played a 2nd bill with of all things Hitchcocks last flick FAMILY PLOT (horrible!) But Car Wash was just down right funny. I went back many times to see it. They would always promise to finally show it on TV but it never happened till the early 80's--at least in L.A. when they showed it on KTLA I believe. That version they cut almost 45 minutes of the movie out, mostly Antonia Fargas (being Gay was still too much for TV then) part and replaced it with extended scenes of the Hamburger stand next door. In the original movie the stand is cut quite a bit, just barely there which is as it should be, it's about a Car Wash, right? Still it was interesting to see extra footage of Danny DeVito as the hamburger stand owner. The TV version and all later releases cut a few scenes like the end with Melanie's date not being all it's cracked up to be. I don't know why they don't restore the movie to it's original cut and then add the other stuff as fun extras but I don't think they love this movie as much as the fans do. We all need to find a 35 mm print of the original film and get a transfer going so we fans can enjoy the movie as we remember it.
11 comment| 29 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on April 11, 2005
Carwash is a classic film in its own genre. However, the DVD version is cut. If you watch the Television broadcast version (Such as on BET: Black Entertainment Television) you will see the original scenes that were in the original theater version. For instance, the scene with Danny DeVito in a jealous rage with his wife is NOT on the DVD. Nor is: The Hooker watching the apology; the extended bus scene; and NOT EVEN THE TOUCHING ENDING WITH MARSHA (Melanie Mayron). I strongly encourage you to act on this DVD deciet by contacting Universal @ DVD Manufacturing 10 Universal City Plaza Universal City, CA 91601. You can't email them because they don't recognize Carwash in their online library. Another note; The "Widescreen" addition is NOT widescreen.
1010 comments| 94 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 28, 2002
Car Wash is a classic.
It doesn't send some life changing message.
It's not profound.
Its not revolutionary.
So what!!!
Afros, Bell Bottoms, Smoggy days in LA....this was just a day in the life.....normal folks! A trip down memory lane for some of us I am sure.
I know i'm not the only person who sings along EVERY time I watch!
Two thumbs up from me...
There are FAR worse movies out there than this....
Folks that diss (that's disrespect for the non slang speakers),
really shouldn't take this movie...or THEMSELVES so seriously.
0Comment| 33 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 23, 1999
I've seen this movie many times. It's funny and I don't agree when people say this movie is funny but doesn't have a lot to say. One of the characters struggles with his identity as a black man in "white" America and his character struck me as being very real. You could sense his frustration and in the end understood him better. Another part of the movie deals with a character who is an ex-con who is trying to move on with his life and put his negative past behind him. But you have to sympathize with him because he is a middle aged man whose only skilled enough to work at a car wash.
I think basically the story is this; everyone who works at the car wash dreams of something better. In the mean time they just keep working at the car wash. I think you'll like it. The characters are great and it's a good movie if you want to check out how people REALLY dressed in the 70's. That alone should give you a good laugh. Don't forget guest appearances by Richard Pryor and George Carlin. Rose Royce also did a great job with the Soundtrack.
0Comment| 22 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on April 28, 2001
Written by Joel Schumacher (who went on to make Lost Boys, Falling Down and many more), this cult classic is the meandering story of a lazy day at the local '70s car wash. Cameos from Richard Pryor and George Carlin spice it up a little, but it's mostly the music, the clothes and those 'fros that make this a film you shouldn't miss. Unfortunately the DVD has no special features at all and is not even in widescreen. Maybe we should wait for someone to show the film a little respect.
0Comment| 10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on April 21, 2009
I HATE this cut up version!! I miss the Danny Devito scene, as well as the ending (the blind date sequence). Where can I purchase the Original Car wash, the one I saw in the theater? Can someone out there tell me.
33 comments| 13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon May 27, 2001
I remember watching this movie when I was younger and I failed to understand most of it, but I enjoyed it. Watching this movie now as an adult, I can now understand all of it and I enjoyed it more than I did as a child. Even though the Car Washes of yesterday have just about disappeared, this movie is a reminder of a simpler time when there was no internet and fashion was groovy! It's comedy at it's best.
0Comment| 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon December 28, 2003
This classic seventies flick finally gets top notch DVD treatment and it delivers!!! This movie has a colorful(no pun intended)cast and a cool disco soundtrack!!! The budget was small but the talent was huge!!! This review is for the newly released Universal WIDESCREEN DVD!!! AN AWESOME DVD!!! Two thumbs up!!! Five Stars!!! A+
0Comment| 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 20, 2013
If you love the 70's and wish you were there, just watch this great Richard Pryor movie. The Pointer Sisters are in it too -- just a normal day at a local Los Angeles car wash. It's fun, but has a serious side to it. Keeps you in your seat from start to finish. A great movie!
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