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Joey O'Brien is the master of the sales pitch. An ultra-smooth runner he's lived his life on cruise control. However, his existence on the open road of too much money and too many women is about to be brought to a standstill when he suddenly finds himself running out of gas...

Joey faces the prospect of 'doing' twelve cars in just one day...
Car salesman Joey O’Brien (Robin Williams) is having the day from hell. His teenage daughter has stayed out the previous night to incur the wrath of his ex-wife (Pamela Reed), the married woman (Fran Drescher) with whom he’s been having an affair is demanding commitment by threatening to leave her wealthy husband and his erstwhile girlfriend (Lori Petty) requires financial support to sustain her dreams of being a fashion designer. To cap all this he has one working day to sell 12 cars or face immediately losing his job.

Just when things seem to be panning out, the enraged husband (Tim Robbins) of his colleague (Anabella Sciorra), armed to the teeth with an automatic rifle and explosives, storms his place of work and holds staff and customers hostage in an effort to find out who’s been sleeping with his wife.

Trying to take charge of the situation, Joey attempts to find a way out of the armed struggle and slowly recovers his self-respect when dealing with all the unravelling aspects of his life.

"The scriptwriter's goin' nowhere until I get some better lines!"
Sound like a comedy? Strictly speaking, this is simply a stage for Williams’ funnyman schtick but the clumsily handled dramatic sequences strangle the precious few laughs to be had and the movie ends up being a disjointed stitching together of incongruous scenes. Played for laughs when it should be serious and heavy handed when trying to be light, the film relies entirely on the broad hairy shoulders of Williams and even he, funny though he may be, can do nothing to save Charles Friedman’s non-starter of a script.

Unfortunately, Williams is left adrift to mug along by an admittedly talented cast embarrassing themselves with the paucity of characterisation given them; quite simply, it’s unlikely you’ll ever see Reed, Sciorra and especially the excruciatingly awful Robbins be quite this abject again, seemingly content to shout at each other in a forlorn effort to be funny.

Also of note is the gratuitous profanity of the dialogue, the intense materialism of the film’s message (one assumes this was supposedly championing the American dream of self-reliance) and patronising, verging on the xenophobic, treatment of non-white American characters. Chinese, Japanese, Russians and blacks are all mercilessly ribbed for cheap gags that I doubt were deemed suitable in the 1980s and certainly stick in the throat now.

"You mean it gets even worse with Tank Girl?"
Director Roger Donaldson has made some good movies but this is certainly not one of them. Unable to marshal the elements of his movie into some sort of shape, Donaldson tacks on a happy ending that resolves all the outstanding plot issues and unbelievably reunites O’Brien with his estranged family in a sickly sweet saccharine sequence lasting less than two minutes. At 94 minutes the movie is not too long but boy does it drag...

Colours are strong without ever being outstanding, blacks are reasonably deep and shadow delineation is good. Contrast levels are fine, the pattern of Robbins’ jacket a case in point.  

Poor old Robin struggles for the next gag...
At least it’s pleasing to see that MGM have put some effort into their catalogue titles. While the content of Cadillac may have dated terribly, at least the visual presentation has received due care with a sharp bright transfer that belies the movie’s age.

With a dialogue driven plot, the English 2 channel stereo presentation is perfectly adequate. There’s not too much separation between the front speakers and the sonics certainly won’t keep you awake if the gags don’t but for the purposes of the movie it’s an acceptable soundtrack.

Just an original theatrical trailer makes it onto the special features slate for this catalogue release. It’s standard fare replete with the requisite gravelly voice over but more of interest is the way that all of the few plot twists are given away in a 60 second trailer. Alas, there’s still nothing even in this promotional snippet to raise a titter although it’s better than nothing.

"Hands up! This is for Bicentennial Man too, you know..."
Is it a comedy? Is it a drama? Director Roger Donaldson tries to use Robin Williams to glue the two genres together but succeeds only in becoming unstuck with a real lemon of a movie. Presented on an average disc from MGM, it’s unlikely this title will look or sound better on DVD (although that’s not saying much). If you’re a Robin Williams completist then your mind will already have been made up as to whether to purchase but for others perhaps a rental would be better.