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Currently showing posts tagged Joel Schumacher

  • Car Wash (1976) Blu-ray Review

    Car Wash (1976)

    Director: Michael Schultz

    Starring: Franklyn Ajaye, George Carlin, Professor Irwin Corey, Ivan Dixon, Antonio Fargas, Jack Kehoe, Clarence Muse, Lorraine Gary, The Pointer Sisters & Richard Pryor

    Released by: Shout Select

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Set in sunny Los Angeles, Car Wash hosts a day in the life of a ragtag group of car washers and and the hilarious hijinks that ensue on the job, all to a fast-moving, body-shaking soundtrack of hits.  Scripted by Joel Schumacher (The Lost Boys, Falling Down) and starring a diverse roster of character actors, musicians and comedy’s finest, Michael Schultz (Cooley High, The Last Dragon) directs this hot wax of hilarity.

    Uncontrollably fun and capturing the laughs of the blue-collar grind, Car Wash, originally intended as a Broadway musical, uses its nonlinear construction to great effect, making viewers apart of the onscreen ball-busting camaraderie and radio wave boogieing.  Best known for their “hand job” touch, the stocked staff of a busy car wash including, Justin (Leon Pinkney, Deadly Hero), an African-American constantly hassled by his girlfriend to ditch his position and return to college, T.C. (Franklin Ajaye, Convoy), an afro-rockin’ employee determined to win a local radio contest and woo the local diner’s waitress, Abduallah (Bill Duke, Predator), a Black Muslim revolutionary formerly known as Duane, Lindy (Antonio Fargas, Starsky & Hutch), a flamboyantly gay employee who dishes attitude better than anyone else and the musical, dancing duo of Floyd (Darrow Igus, Fridays) and Lloyd (Otis Day, D.C. Cab), among others all bust a move while making Cali cars sparkle and shine.  From erroneously tackling a customer thought to be a criminal bomber, fellow employee Hippo (Jamie Spinks, The Big Score) knocking the boots with a local prostitute who is hilariously pursued by an all too trusting cabbie (George Carlin, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure) for skipping out on a fare and graced by the money-hungry presence of a pimp-like preacher known as Daddy Rich (Richard Pryor, The Toy), Car Wash is never in short supply of comic situations and absurdness.  Rightfully earning a Grammy for Best Album written for a film, Car Wash is never overly crude or falters due to its unconventional plot that is more inclined to let audiences hang with the gang than anything else.  Instead, the cult hit keeps the fun times rolling and holds the jive allowing for an effort doused in outrageous laughs.

    Shout Select presents Car Wash with a 1080p transfer, sporting its 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  With only the faintest of speckling popping up every now and again, colors pop remarkably well with the employee’s orange jumpsuits, bright yellow taxi cabs and the establishment’s big-lettered signage all making top-notch bursts on screen.  Furthermore, skin tones are exceptional with detail evident in close-ups and white levels, most noticeably seen in Daddy Rich’s gaudy suit, looking solidly.  A most filmic representation of the musically-driven comedy, Car Wash truly shimmers in high-definition.  Matched with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix, dialogue is overwhelmingly audible with only occasional moments where outdoor ambiance can drown out character exchanges.  That said, the film’s constant undercurrent of music is balanced appreciatively with talky moments while, specific music-driven cues including the opening and closing titles will leave viewers singing along for days and impressed by the song’s depths.  

    Special features include, an Audio Commentary with Director Michael Schultz, Workin’ at the Car Wash with Otis Day (12:13) where the actor recalls a 2 week rehearsal period on the Universal soundstages that greatly developed the cast’s chemistry before filming commenced.  Understandably, Day mentions growing incredibly sick of hearing the title song on a daily basis while also praising Schultz’s direction and hailing him as someone who truly cared about the project.  Car Wash from Start to Finish with Gary Stomberg (34:22) finds the film’s producer sharing his early starts in public relations repping the likes of Ray Charles before forming his own company that would ultimately represent Three Dog Night, Steppenwolf and The Doors.  Stromberg also remembers coming up with the idea of Car Wash during a particularly loaded evening citing Robert Altman’s Nashville as an inspiration.  Understanding the music world while Universal were left scratching their heads about the film’s potential, Stromberg’s theory to spread head the project with an album produced by Norman Whitfield that would ultimately pay for the film’s making proved true and one the studio immediately responded to.  Lastly, Radio Spots (2:59), the film’s Trailer (2:21) and Reversible Cover Art conclude the release’s extras.

    Although not an original commercial success before graduating to cult accolades, Car Wash is a hilarious hangout session with the working man where pranks, kooky customers and a rhythm-splitting soundtrack take shotgun.  A groovy time capsule with funny performances from its many principal players, this lighthearted blaxploitation romp is prime picking for all 9-5ers.  Meanwhile, Shout Select’s high-definition upgrade is a filmic stunner with a smaller but, nonetheless engaging offering of extras and dynamite new cover art provided by Paul Shipper that shines the flick up nice.  

    RATING: 4/5

    Available now from Shout Select, Car Wash can be purchased ShoutFactory.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • The Babysitter (1995) Blu-ray Review

    The Babysitter (1995)

    Director: Guy Ferland

    Starring: Alicia Silverstone, Jeremy London, J.T. Walsh, Nicky Katt & George Segal

    Released by: Olive Films

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Following her turn as ditzy blonde bombshell in Clueless, Alicia Silverstone stars in The Babysitter.  When Harry and Dolly Tucker (J.T. Walsh, The Negotiator and Lee Garlington, Psycho II) attend a local party, the attractive Jennifer (Silverstone) is entrusted to babysit their children.  As the night progresses, Jennifer receives advances from her drunken boyfriend Jack (Jeremy London, Mallrats) and his manipulative friend Mark (Nicky Katt, Insomnia).  In addition to being the object of the elder Harry’s sexual desires, Jennifer’s quiet night of babysitting spirals into an unnerving evening she won’t soon forget.

    Overly relying on erotic daydreams of its attractive lead concocted by most of the supporting cast, The Babysitter lacks knowledge of its own intentions.  While Harry quietly drools over the teenage babysitter, Jennifer’s boyfriend Jack is pursued by his estranged former friend Mark forcing viewers to endure meandering dialogue of little value.  As the film’s parental figures drunkenly long for passionate affairs, Jack is duped into stalking his own girlfriend after kindly being told to not visit her while babysitting.  Crosscutting between the film’s reality, Harry’s own scandalous fantasies and Jack’s never ending thoughts of “what if” possibilities, The Babysitter never finds it footing as the erotic thriller it strives to be.  Attempting to resuscitate itself in its final fleeting moments with the core characters brought together by tragedy, Director Guy Ferland’s (Telling Lies in America) directorial debut fails to weave a compelling tale with character development greatly suffering.  Unsurprisingly, The Babysitter was lambasted direct to video during its original release with time doing little good to this tensionless feature.  Scared and confused, Jennifer asks her bizarrely weak-minded boyfriend what he was thinking following the film’s events, leaving viewers asking similar questions regarding the film’s quality or lack thereof.  

    Olive Films presents The Babysitter with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.78:1 aspect ratio.  Presumably struck from a dated master, the picture boasts a softness that yields a less than desirably sharper appearance.  Colors are mostly satisfying with Mark’s sports car popping nicely and black levels possessing inky levels.  Meanwhile, skin tones range from mediocre to unpleasantly muddled in closeups while flakes and speckles are largely kept to a minimum but still occasionally present.  Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix, dialogue is sufficiently audible with little else of merit.  No special features have been included on this release.

    RATING: 2/5

    Available now from Olive Films, The Babysitter can be purchased via OliveFilms.com,

    Amazon.com and other fine retailers.