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For, Friday, Feb. 12, 2021


EDITOR’S NOTE: I reviewed this movie for the Deseret News on Dec. 19, 1983, but if you had asked me last week if I’d ever seen ‘D.C. Cab,’ I would have answered, ‘I don’t think so.’ But lo and behold, this review attests otherwise, and to my great surprise, I kind of enjoyed it. Still, it marks yet another odd duck to receive a Blu-ray upgrade from Kino Lorber, which seems to vacillate between classics, foreign and independent films, and goofy forgotten titles that no one would miss if they remained forgotten. Still, every time it happens I think, ‘Well, it must have fans somewhere, otherwise would Kino really bother?


The newspaper ads for “D.C. Cab” use a quote from a review as the main ad line: “ ‘D.C. Cab’ is ‘Animal House’ on Wheels!”


And that’s true. The film concentrates on a group of misfit cabbies who work for a gypsy cab company in Washington, D.C., run by Max Gail (Wojohowicz on TV’s “Barney Miller”). Here, Gail is a Vietnam vet/overage hippie, and he’s a pretty loose boss — but his cabbies make him look like Mr. Conservative in comparison.


Mr. T, in his flamboyant dress as Samson, is hard-nosed, lovable tough, periodically stopping his cab to warn the neighborhood kids about a drug-dealing pimp who drives a fancy car. “If only I had a fancy car to attract the kids,” he frequently mutters to himself. (And eventually he gets a cab that qualifies.)




      Adam Baldwin, 'D.C. Cab' (1983)


Gary Busey is a real space cadet, vowing to never work on Elvis Presley’s birthday and convinced that Bruce Lee has been frozen somewhere and is patiently awaiting a thawing out (he also has a stereo system in his car that is so loud it blows out the windows).


Charlie Barnett is a streetwise dude who wears pink curlers in his wig and charges a Japanese couple nearly $200 for a $12 ride.


Whitman Mayo is the Confucius of the bunch, spouting hip philosophy for which he charges quarters.


Into their midst comes Adam Baldwin (he played the title character in “My Bodyguard”), whose one aim in life is to become a cabbie. His father served with Gail, so Gail takes him under his wing. In turn, Baldwin inspires the group to clean up their act so they can begin to compete with their archenemies, the employees of Emerald Cab Co.




Two rich kids being kidnapped and a missing expensive violin make up the nominal plot here, and most of the jokes are predictable, crazy, and occasionally the film gets preachy, which really seems a strange turn of events each time it happens.


So the real question is, with all of these factors, why did I enjoy myself as much as I did? The answer has more to do with the movie’s inherent energy and the charm of the cast than with Joel Schumacher’s script and direction.


But if you’re in the right mood you just might get a mild kick out of the silly shenanigans of “D.C. Cab,” rated R for some nudity, quite a bit of profanity and some mild sex.