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Case Number 03649: Small Claims Court

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Car 54, Where Are You? (1994)

MGM // 1994 // 89 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // November 28th, 2003

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All Rise...

Editor's Note

Our reviews of Car 54, Where Are You? The Complete First Season (published May 11th, 2011) and Car 54, Where Are You? The Complete Second Season (published May 23rd, 2012) are also available.

The Charge

With cops like these on the streets…you'll wish you were behind bars!

The Case

Meet officer Toody (David Johansen, Scrooged), one of the most inept officers on the force, and officer Muldoon (John C. McGinley (The Rock), an anal-retentive new recruit who goes strictly by the book. When Muldoon updates their precinct with new computer technology, something critical in the story happens where slapstick gags ensue. Then a mob witness (Jeremy Piven, Grosse Point Blank) is brought in for safekeeping and given to Toody and Muldoon after assassination attempts by mafia goons in prison. This witness is then put into the trunk of a car where…well, it gets fuzzy at this point. I think something happens along the lines of slapstick comedy. None of this is funny, by the way. Then Al Lewis and Nipsey Russell show up, along with a bunch of other semi-famous faces. By this point, I started dozing off and on. Then I started drinking heavily. I think at one point I may have seen a man in drag, but I may be thinking of another cop comedy. Police Academy 2, perhaps? Oh, I have such a migraine headache just thinking about this movie…

Car 54, Where Are You? is one of the worst big budget Hollywood comedies ever made, period. I know that's a big, bold statement, but this is a big, bold movie of epic badness. During the 1990s, it was "cool" to take vintage TV shows and turn them into movies. A few of them were good (The Addams Family, The Brady Bunch Movie), many of them were bad (ummm…pretty much everything else). The worst of the lot was Car 54, Where Are You? (which sat on Orion's shelf for over three years), based on the 1960s television show of the same name. The movie goes spectacularly wrong in almost every way, except possibly the end credits. The casting is horrendous: David Johansen (AKA Buster Poindexter) is the most obnoxiously grating performer since Carrot Top, who looks like Robert De Niro in comparison. Johansen's sandpaper voice should be burned in the center of the earth, never to be heard from again. John C. McGinley (TV's far better Scrubs) is an actor who is far above this material. He was obviously thinking with his wallet and not his artistic credibility when he accepted the role of officer Muldoon. As the movie creaks by, a parade of cameo faces make their way across the screen, including Fran Drescher as Muldoon's promiscuous girlfriend, a pre-fame (and trial) Rosie O'Donnell as Officer Toody's wife, Daniel (Adam? Alec? William? Tito?) Baldwin as a mob boss, and original series regulars Al "Grandpa Munster" Lewis and Nipsey Russell as fellow officers. None of these folks is able to raise the material to a level higher than dog feces—when you can see the gags coming from a mile away (the coffee spit-take by Russell is painful to watch), you know you've got a major mess on your hands. And talk about going to hell in a hand basket, they actually let Johansen sing not once but twice. Lord almighty. This is DVD that shouldn't be bought due the enormous stench it will cause in your DVD player. Recommended only to those whose mental capacity rivals that of Cuba Gooding Jr.'s "Radio." Uggh.

Car 54, Where Are You? is presented in a cropped 1.33:1 pan and scan version. Okay, normally you'd hear me decry the evil that is full frame. This time, however, I don't feel that even a widescreen transfer of this film would have done it any good. Shit is shit no matter what size toilet it's floating in. As for the transfer, it boasts mostly solid colors and sharp black levels. There are a few moments where edge enhancement rears its ugly head (along with a lack of overall sharpness), but for what this movie is it's a decent transfer. The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround in both Spanish and English. There isn't much to report here: the sound is clear enough so that all the dialogue, effects, and music can be distinctly heard. That's not necessarily a good thing. And please, someone drag the man who wrote and sang that irritating "Car 54, Where Are You?" out back and put him out of his misery. Also included on this disc are English, French, and Spanish subtitles.

Thankfully, MGM has seen fit to delay any further punishment by excluding any supplements on Car 54, Where Are You?, save for a theatrical trailer that gives away all the funny parts, mainly the actors' dignity.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 23

Perp Profile

Studio: MGM
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Spanish)
• English
• French
• Spanish
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Release Year: 1994
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
• Bad
• Comedy

Distinguishing Marks

• Theatrical Trailer


• IMDb

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