Case Number 03388: Small Claims Court


Warner Bros. // 1989 // 121 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // October 3rd, 2003

The Charge

It takes a real man to bring in a lady in a pink Cadillac.

The Case

No matter where you run, skip-tracer Tommy Nowak (Clint Eastwood, Dirty Harry) is going to find you. A one-man dog catcher of sorts, Nowak has made a life out of finding folks who've decided to bail on their bond payments. Tommy uses every trick in the book to catch his man: dressing as a rodeo clown, shilling prizes as a slick Vegas huckster, or pretending to be a backwoods hick, Tommy has all the right moves. Until, that is, he happens upon Lou Ann McGuinn (Bernadette Peters, The Jerk), a wrongfully accused mother and wife whose ex-con husband, Roy (Timothy Carhart, Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh), has been caught up in a counter fitting scheme. After setting bail at $25,000 dollars, Lou Ann skips town with her newborn child, Roy's precious pink Cadillac, and a bag filled with $250,000. Tommy, being the diligent skip-tracer that he is, sets off and snags Lou Ann near Reno, Nevada. But as is the case with most buddy road movies featuring a female and a male, Tommy begins to fall for Lou Ann's wily charms. Good lovin' don't come easy, as Tommy soon finds out: hot on Lou Ann's trail is a vengeful Roy and a batch of white racist gun nuts. It'll take every trick in Tommy's book to get Lou Ann to safety...that and the magic of a Pink Cadillac.

Just when I thought I was going to see the lighter side of Clint Eastwood, his playfulness was all but overshadowed by a horrendously silly screenplay. What, exactly, drew Eastwood to this material? Filled with sluggish action and boring characterization, Pink Cadillac is one of Eastwood's least exciting movies, and I sat through Space Cowboys. It's as if Clint was having a midlife crisis and wanted to try something different (ala the comedy scenes) but was afraid to actually move out of his action hero box (ala the action scenes). What ends up on screen is a flaccid mess, a movie without a solid heart and an ending that may go down in history as one of the most baffling in all of cinema. I will go on record as saying that I liked the fact that Clint "loosened up" a bit with the character of Tommy Nowak. At one point Eastwood rants about the deceptive ways of women, complete with a high-pitched voice and batting eyes. It's in these moments (along with Eastwood plying his faux trade as a Vegas sleazeball) that Pink Cadillac had unlimited promise. And then it was squandered whenever the screenplay focused on the white racist goons or Bernadette Peters' annoying character. Pouting her lips and eyes as if she were channeling the Hush Puppy mascot, Peters' Lou Ann should have been left by the roadside to hitchhike into another movie. Pink Cadillac is filled with semi-famous supporting players, including frequent Eastwood co-star Geoffrey Lewis as a burnt out hippie, Bill Moseley (House of 1000 Corpses) as a wacky henchman, and in a blink-or-you'll-miss-him cameo by superstar Jim Carrey as a Vegas stand-up comedian. The film was directed by Buddy Van Horn, whose previous credits include the Eastwood vehicles Any Which Way You Can (an Eastwood monkey movie) and the Dirty Harry sequel The Dead Pool, neither of which set the cinematic world on fire. Like Eastwood's poorly paced The Rookie, Pink Cadillac may have worked had it featured a better editor and a funnier and/or more explosive script. Heck, even the villain is boring, a gravely voiced, slick haired ruffian whose only talent is...well, looking like a B-rate movie villain. And the PG-13 rating guarantees toned down violence, something that I don't want in my Eastwood action movies. Would you have wanted to see a PG-13 version of Dirty Harry? I don't think so. Pink Cadillac may satisfy hardcore Clint fans looking to get a fix -- for the rest of us, it's a junker.

Pink Cadillac is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This flick is part of a new wave of Eastwood movies, most of them his lesser known/liked titles. Overall I was happy with how this transfer turned out, though it's nothing to write home about. The colors are bright with shadow detail appearing adequate. The black level is in solid shape without any major gray tinting. The biggest flaw I spotted was some dirt and grain in the image, as well as a few instances of edge enhancement. Not a reference quality transfer by any means, but it does the job that's needed. The soundtrack is presented in a so-so Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround remix in English. I was none too impressed with this mix -- the lack of directional effects and surround sounds is disappointing to say the least. The biggest boost comes from the pop/country songs on the soundtrack. Otherwise, this mix is fairly tame. All aspects of the dialogue, music, and effects are free of distortion. Also included on this disc are English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, and Korean subtitles, as well as a Dolby Stereo track in French and a Dolby 1.0 Mono track in Spanish and Portuguese.

On par with most of the Eastwood titles, Pink Cadillac is void of any supplements, save for a measly theatrical trailer and a list of Clint Eastwood film highlights.

Review content copyright © 2003 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 59

Perp Profile
Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (Portuguese)
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (Spanish)

* English
* Chinese
* French
* Japanese
* Korean
* Portuguese
* Spanish
* Thai

Running Time: 121 Minutes
Release Year: 1989
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13

Distinguishing Marks
* Theatrical Trailer
* Eastwood Film Highlights

* IMDb