That’s right folks, the man behind Batman & Robin, Falling Down, Number 23, Phone Booth, Bad Company and a bunch of other movies, wrote the 1976 movie Car Wash, about one day’s work in a California car wash. Think of it as an Empire Records-type, one day glimpse at the relationships, drama and regular work that goes into keeping a place running.
I was flipping through my Netflix online queue Friday night and decided on Car Wash because it wasn’t very long AND George Carlin and Richard Pryor were emblazoned on the cover. I kind of figured this was one of those occurrences where somewhat unknown actors who would go on to be famous were in the movie or they didn’t have big parts, but were still featured because they were names, thus garnering them the box art. I’m not sure which was the case, but Pryor has one scene (though he shows up in a picture on a wall) and Carlin plays a cab driver trying to get paid.
The real focus of the story lands on all the guys working in the car wash and the owner. There are a few familiar faces in the group. SNL’s Garrett Morris is there as is a young Bill Duke (Mac in Predator) playing the angry black man. Also, Otis Day who kinda plays himself in Animal House is there as Lloyd, half of the Lloyd and Floyd singing team with high hopes. Lorrain Gray even makes an appearance as the mother of a boy who can’t stop puking. I recognized her but couldn’t place it, but thanks to IMDb, I now know that she played Ellen Brody in Jaws. Connections to SNL, Animal House, Predator and Jaws? How can you go wrong?
The thing about Car Wash is that there’s a lot going on. The car wash employs a TON of people, all of whom seem to have a side story (one guys’ having trouble with his lady, the other’s parole officer shows up, another’s trying to get with a girl who works nearby), plus you’ve got various customers, the owner of the car wash and a subplot about a mad bomber. But even with all that it feels like a complete movie. There isn’t much in the way of resolution at the end of the movie, but I kind of like that. This is just one day out of many in their lives. Maybe things will change tomorrow, but they probably won’t. It’s kind of fun to think about where things would have gone the next day. It’s a nice slice of life.
One character I do want to point out for my fellow geeks is TC. He’s the guy trying to get the girl of his dreams to pay attention to him. He’s also trying to win concert tickets on the radio (something I tried and succeeded at a time or two in high school). Also, also, he’s created a superhero called The Fly that he wears on his T-shirt. I think he created it. TC compares him
to Superman, which is fun. Now that I think about it, TC might be the main character, but it really is hard to say because of ensemble cast.
So, yeah, Schumaker wrote this and The Wiz! Go figure. It’s worth checking out if you’ve got an hour and a half and want to see a lot of familiar faces, plus a guy that looks like one of the Black Eyed Peas.