5 May 2010 | lost-in-limbo
"I hit a casket with a puppet stage. What am I doing here?"
After directing Tom Hanks in the comedy smash "Bachelor Party" the year before, Neal Israel would go to take on the traffic school comedy "Moving Violations" with the same fruity results. While I like "Bachelor Party" better, still it's not taking anything away from it, as it had loads of humorous instances consisting of visual gags and gaudy one-liners from a light-headed script. There are some misfires evident, but it's just too pleasant and how can you pass its catchy soundtrack.
After losing their licenses for repeated offences a group of drivers are sentenced to traffic school and their cars impounded, but their bitter driving instructors (once highly regarded officers) are making sure they won't easily pass.
It's the usual formula, as it has that chaotically nutty vein that flowed through "Police Academy (1984)". Sure it can be dumb and low-brow, but its mishap humour is enjoyably staged. Namely James Keach's uptight shtick as Deputy Halik was a complete hoot and an amusing Nedra Volz's blind as a bat turn as Mrs. Loretta Houk. The cast are committed to their misfit characters and made it more the merrier. A likable John Murray (brother of Bill) chips in with his self-knowing presence, throwing around snappy quips. When Keach and Murray came together is when it livened up. Jennifer Tilly keeps it perky and sincere in a role doesn't really ask a real lot from her. Brian Backer is in a usual dweeb role and a diverting Ned Eisenberg bloodshed happy turn is great (the sequence involving the class watching the tape; Blood flows red on the highway!" shows the slightly disturbing obsession). Which he's tagged obviously as a horror fan (referencing films like "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "Friday the 13th" films). Lisa Hart Carroll is marvellous as the cold-hearted deputy Virginia Morris and her cat-fight with Sally Kellerman's shrewish character is unforgettable. Also there's pleasurable support by Fred Willard, Wendie Jo Sperber, Willard E. Pugh and Nadine Van der Velde. Other familiar stars in nothing more than minor cameos are Don Cheadle and Dedee Pfeiffer.