You may ask why we would even care to delve deep into what is essentially just dog poo in our faces… why? Because it’s what we do. Here are the details!
What?! Officer Toody is a fun-loving Brooklyn cop just looking to have a good time. When he and his new uptight partner are tasked to protect a mob witness targeted for a hit, it’s made clear that he needs to shape up or lose his badge. Uh oh! Can they keep the party going while keeping the witness safe? Find out in… Car 54, Where Are You?!
Why?! Talk about a loaded question. Why, indeed? Officer Toody is our main character and the action almost exclusively follows him. His motivation for 95% of the film is to remove the stick up the ass of his new partner by getting him paid and laid. Doesn’t sound like much of a plot, right? It isn’t. Concurrently the station that he works in has struck up a deal to protect a state’s witness against a mob boss. After several nearly successful assassination attempts on the witness’ life the captain decides to hide him with Toody (who would ever suspect?!). Even then Toody doesn’t seem to care much about the witness until he loses him and has to hunt him down or get stripped of his badge. So that’s kind of a secondary motivation… first off, get his partner laid, second save the witness. Even writing this all down is making me sad.
How?! You have the general idea of most of the film from the motivations. There are two other aspects of the plot that play almost no role until the climax. The first is that the police station Toody works in has upgraded to a new computer system called Madd Cop (a play on police brutality? Hard to say), which is a futuristic crime-tracking system… this is strictly a plot device. The second is that Toody is obsessed with a Cops-like show and hopes to be on it one day. This luckily happens a week later when he begins to be followed by a camera crew… this is also strictly a plot device. After Toody has lost the witness, he ingratiates himself with the mob, impersonates a hitman, and goes after the witness. At the same time his partner uses Madd Cop and the tracking devices to locate the witness and goes after Toody. The real mob hitmen see a promo for the cops-like show and figure out that Toody is an imposter and go after both Toody and the witness. They all converge at Coney Island and after a brief chase the mobster is snagged by the police and everyone lives happily ever after. Confusing? No kidding.
Who?! There are a number of interesting musical cameos in the film, which include The Ramones, Tone Loc, and Coati Mundi. But by far the most interesting thing is the Ghostbusters-like rap theme song to the film called “Car 54 Rap.” It is terrible and yet mesmerizing. Unfortunately it’s not available online so you just have to take my word for it. But even that’s not as interesting as the artist that created the masterpiece: legitimate band MMM&S. They seem to be a funk band full of the whitest kids in the world according to the videos I can find:
That’s a banger! Seems like the same story as the Beasties Boys. White kids who started in funk/punk and moved to rap… except they never made it. Weird and wild stuff.
Where?! As MMM&S say in their rap, “Brooklyn! Busting out on a hot tip. Two of New York’s finest you can’t diss.” Brooklyn indeed. This is basically as close as you can get to an A without it being part of the title. Drips with Brooklyn and culminates on Coney Island. Perfection. B+.
When?! Secret holiday film alert! There is very little overt indication of the time at which this film takes place. That is until the mob boss laments the fact that his witness isn’t dead yet by opening a newspaper detailing who was killed by mistake. On the opposite page of that headline? A disastrous July 4th fireworks accident! This may in fact be my favorite ever. So fucking random. B+!
I just gave you so much unnecessary detail, let’s find out if it’s BMT. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! Car 54, Where are You? More like Bizarre Shitty Chore, It’s Dog Poo! (In my face … it’s dog poo in my face). Orion Pictures, on the brink of bankruptcy, decides to IP dump a Car 54 movie as a musical starring David Johansen, shelves it for 3 years, and then releases it without the musical numbers and cut to shit. What could go wrong? Sigh. Let’s get into it.
- The Good – A few of the side actors, O’Donnell and Fran Drescher were solid for sure. The relationship between Rosie and Johansen feels real somehow, and even Johansen for all his over-the-top stage mannerisms (which Jamie pointed out to me was probably the reason he was cast and hardly a knock against him as an actor, the guy already has a starring role in Scrooged, they knew what they were getting) comes across as a genuine guy. There are a few jokes here and there as well including maybe the best spit take I’ve ever seen.
- The Bad – Parts of the movie look like something I could shoot. The quality is dire. If this movie were to be released today it would have been dumped on VOD and forgotten about. There are basically no good jokes in the film, and the acting throughout from the main players is terrible. I will say that I didn’t necessarily feel bored during the film, but there is a level of wackiness that just doesn’t really work (or maybe it is that it isn’t consistent?). I’m usually not one to harp on things like this but … this movie is like 95% sex jokes strung together by basically no coherent story. Take from that what you will.
- The BMT – Not since Dino De Laurentiis dumped King Kong Lives and Raw Deal have we seen such a blatant barely-movie widely released to theaters from a dying production company. If there is any legacy to this film it is the opening: if the movie got even close to “okay” for the rest of the film it may have gone down as the one true movie that is ruined by the opening scene (similar to how The Call was ruined by literally the last five seconds, a much more common trope). The opening is legendary, including terrible singing in a dream sequence complete with a cartoon bird dressed as a rapper. Bomb. Thinking about it I would actually give this is a pretty good BMeTric too, because I would definitely watch this again with a crowd. It is just so weird that I’m betting there are a million layers to unpeel.
I mean there is really only one thing to do: Prequel! It might not be pretty but we need to see Car 54, Where Are You? When Toody Met Leo … my god, the title even sounds like When Harry Met Lloyd. Anyways, in the first film we were given what is an oh so tantalizing glimpse of the hilarious (and heartfelt!) relationship between Toody and his partner Leo before they are torn asunder by Leo’s retirement in the beginning of the film. “We want more Leo!” was what I assume the Car 54-heads were screaming in their packed opening day theaters. Bonus, the film will feature a cameo by none other than a person who could pass as a young Rosie O’Donnell to show the early stages of Gunther’s courtship of Lucille. The screenwriter for this film (me) says, “the courtship is much like the Cyclone of Coney Island: A Rollercoaster!”.