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D.C. Cab

Kino // R // December 1, 2020
List Price: $24.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ryan Keefer | posted December 10, 2020 | E-mail the Author
The Show:

Everyone has a blind spot or two, and mine I guess to a small degree is D.C.Cab. I grew up outside of D.C. and was aware enough of the push by the Nation's Capital to bring more business to town, and when a film including the flavor of the month came along, it was too hard to pass up I guess, and it was worth a revisit for me.

Joel Schumacher (Trespass) co-wrote the script with Topper Carew, and directed it by his lonesome. Albert (Adam Baldwin, Full Metal Jacket) is from Georgia, but he comes up to D.C. to meet Harold (Max Gail, 42), a Vietnam War friend of his late father. He decides to stay with Harold and his wife, and decides he wants to be a cabbie at the cab company Harold owns. It's a ragtag bunch of folks in the company; the cabs are beat up and the cabbies have their eccentricities. Samson (Mr. T, Rocky III) is full of muscle and heart, while Buddy and Buzzy (The Barbarian Brothers) have too much of the former and not enough of the latter. Dell (Gary Busey, Point Break) plays Gary Busey, more or less. Baba (Bill Maher) and Xavier (Paul Rodriguez) help complement the bunch as does Ophelia (Marsha Warfield). Tyrone (Charlie Barnett) is the closest thing to a demographic peer Albert could have, but nobody wants anything to do with babysitting Albert. Nevertheless, the film shows the rags to riches story of D.C. Cab in D.C. Cab.

If there are films that one could equate time capsules to, D.C. Cab could fit this in several ways. There's the front and center thing for D.C. vets; seeing various portions of D.C. in the condition they were in in the early ‘80s (and remembering the large "D.C. is a ‘Capital' City!" banner at the end of the film), while Northwest sort of looking the same. Seeing the one road in and out of Dulles Airport from then, as opposed to the several and backroads around there now, along with the mass transit option that is almost ready to open after being sort of projected and targeted to open back when I was still in puberty. There is a lot of stuff that's changed through the years.

Then you have the things onscreen. There are a pre-crazy Adam Baldwin and Gary Busey, the latter of whom was a few years away from almost dying after hitting his head in a motorcycle accident. There is a pre-plastic surgery Bill Maher, there is Mr. T, who people lost their minds to see around here at the time since Rocky III came out. Irene Cara appears and sings a song for the film, hot on the heels of the success of Flashdance! Barnett was a revelation and I remembered him further for his appearances on Miami Vice despite his battles with drugs, and it was a breakout performance for him at the time. Lots of things changed by the end of the decade, to say nothing of several decades later! And the ensemble helps along a story that chucks believability out of the window, because they're here for the laughs, and Schumacher complements the performances best by staying out of the way.

The Blu-ray:
The Video:

The 1.85:1 widescreen presentation for the film is fine; the colors of the cabs and cabbie jackets is vivid. Black levels are fine and possess a bit of contrast to them, with film grain being present during viewing. Image detail in closer shots is better than expected, and wider shows (like Albert's hitchhiking) looks natural also. Dean Cundey (yes, THAT Dean Cundey) did the photography for the film and it looks nice.

The Sound:

DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 for this and it sounds good. I'd forgotten how much music was in the movie past the Cara song and the Peabo Bryson title song, with keyboards having a nice oomph, and the scene when Albert and Dell get into the amped up cab and the windows blow out, it has some range but does not blow your mind. Capable work by Georgio Moroder (yes, THAT Georgio Moroder).

The Extras:

You have eight radio spots (4:15) and the trailer (2:33), but the big and only extra of note is a commentary with film historian Daniel Kremer and film critic Scout Tafoya. Kremer handles the more ‘serious' examination of the film while Tafoya provides trivia, such as the chance of buying the original script still lies in the DMV area, and biographical information on many cast members, to the point where some notes have to be called upon. Some of the film influences like Car Wash are mentioned, and overall the track is surprisingly active and a decent track, but limited to the fact that the pair lack a tangible connection to the film.

Final Thoughts:

It could be location bias for me, but D.C. Cab remains a fun romp for this guy and a look at a simpler period in D.C. and amongst some of those who take up screen time in it. It has held up to a degree, but there are some bumps and bruises that it would not hold up to now, and God knows nobody is going to be motivated enough to remake this, assuming there was any reason to do so. Nevertheless, if you want to see some older comics and comic actors in a script you have seen before, this is worth a spin.

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