Friday, April 9, 2010

D.C. CAB (1983) - 4/5 stars

Release: 1983
Director: Joel Schumacher
Writer: Joel Schumacher (screenplay), Topper Carew and Joel Schumacher (story)
Cast: Adam Baldwin, Max Gail, Mr. T, Charlie Barnett, Gary Busey, The Barbarian Brothers, Gloria Gifford, Marsha Warfield, Bill Maher, DeWayne Jessie, Paul Rodriguez, Irene Cara, Jill Schoelen
Soundtrack: Giorgi Moroder
Claim to fame: Mr. T, Gary Busey, and the Barbarian Brothers occupying the same cinema screen for one brief moment of our now-blessed existences
Rating: 4/5 stars

It's not in the Bible, but I'd be willing to wager that the REAL reason God rested on the 7th day was not because the day before He had created man, but that in creating man He helped create the seed of the idea that would become "D.C. Cab." Which would wear anybody out, all-powerful creator of the universe or not.


What is "D.C. Cab?" It's a 1983 Joel Schumacer film that brings together on celluloid the spectacular and unique talents of Gary Busey, Mr. T, and the Barbarian Brothers. Other noticeable cast members include Adam Baldwin (no relation to the Baldwin brothers, starred in "My Bodyguard" and "Full Metal Jacket"), Bill Maher, and 80's scream queen Jill Schoelen ("The Stepfather").


Is this...Turkish? I love that in some country,

Mr. T and Irene Cara (singer of "Fame") were the

biggest selling points of this movie

This film…okay, a loose narrative is constructed concerning Adam Baldwin as a young, idealistic kid who hitchhikes to Washington D.C. to join a cab company run by his recently-deceased father's old war buddy. Once he arrives, he learns that this particular unit is comprised of some of the most off-the-wall, anti-social degenerates to ever show their face in public.


From there on, the movie becomes a free-form string of barely connected incidents: Mr. T trying to protect his neighborhood and niece from the influence of drug dealers while wearing feathered earrings, Gary Busey's whacked improvisational skills (mostly having to do with bowel movements or oral sex), the Barbarian Brothers being the Barbarian Brothers, and Adam Baldwin forming a tentative friendship with the smooth-talking hustler Charlie Barnett.



It's hard on the streets for a man...and it's even harder for a cab driver.

The soundtrack was composed by Giorgi Moroder, who is a legend in his own right. The man is basically responsible for making the synthesizer a viable instrument for pop music by composing Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" way back in 1977, helping to pave the way for great 80's artists like Depeche Mode and New Order to conquer the charts. Moroder spent the 80's collaborating with and producing for people like Phil Oakley of The Human League and David Bowie, as well as composing music for films like "Midnight Express," "Cat People," and "Scarface." The guy is truly an 80's icon.

That said, his score for "D.C. Cab" is insane. It's full of some of the coolest, most "80's-ish" synth lines I've ever heard - the movie itself rarely has a moment that does not have a synth blaring in the background - but a lot of the music has vocals behind it. And the lyrics are, well, about as cliche as you can get for the "Me decade": every song is about working too hard, pushing it to the limit, trying to survive, or the power of love. Somehow it works.


Giorgi Moroder: You gotta love a German-speaking Italian shades

How could it not work? "D.C. Cab" is so 80's it hurts. Don't get up to go to the bathroom during any point of this movie or you'll probably miss a montage. Mr. T and the Barbarian Brothers' fashion might just make your eyes bleed with their blaring neon colors or matching flannel/suspenders (respectively), or if you're anything like me a smile is going to plastered on your face for 110 minutes straight.


WARNING: for some viewers, this film may inadvertently foster

an intense love of the Barbarian Brothers

There's crass jokes, an early scene at a strip club that's wall-to-wall nudity (leave it to Busey to crash that party), a government-issue flamethrower from Vietnam is played for laughs, and the movie repeatedly hammers home its well-worn theme of self-respect and entrepreneurship.


Uncle Gary is at it again

But just when you think the movie is nothing but a farce, seemingly out of nowhere come these sincere, well-acted scenes that smack you upside the head, like Irene Cara being talked out of her quitting her job or Bill Maher's scarily-accurate monologue about how sometimes working to support your dreams ends up forestalling those dreams indefinitely as you live hand-to-mouth.

"D.C. Cab" is a movie that really has to be experienced to be believed. You may think you know what you're getting into but by the time Mr. T and the Barbarian Brothers literally crash through the dining room walls of a mild-mannered rural family



your expectations will have similarly been smashed. 4 stars for the most gonzo 80's flick I think I've ever seen.



  1. A nice write-up. I mean, I've been known too overuse the phrase 'mind blowing,' but if ever something called for it, it's D.C. CAB. I have a long-in-the-making D.C. CAB review in the works, but I have to get around to adding some clips to youtube, mainly Gary Busey goosing himself wildly and performing 'intestinal yoga.' Also of note are the perplexing tie-ins with the A-TEAM episode TAXICAB WARS.

  2. This is my favorite review by you thus far. I will always cherish my memories of my first time watching this magnificent movie.

  3. Great to find others who appreciate this masterpiece known as D.C. Cab. You should check out the Psychci Blood Brothers page on Facebook.