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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Moving Violations

Moving Violations (1985)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: B     Film: B



I missed Moving Violations during its brief run in theaters during the spring of 1985, but when I caught it on cable a year or two later I was surprised by how much I laughed.  And whenever I'd come across it while flipping through the channels in following years, I'd always find myself being amused and watching longer than intended.


Moving Violations is another zany '80s comedy about a group of misfits driving authority figures crazy.  It was directed by Neal Israel and co-written by Israel and Pat Proft, who also collaborated on Police Academy, Bachelor Party and the very underrated Real Genius.  Moving Violations isn't as smart as Real Genius; rather it's more in the "stupid but funny" vein of Police Academy and Bachelor Party.  As Israel mentions on his audio commentary, the key to these movies is having a laid-back smartass clash with an authoritarian who takes himself too seriously.


The film casts Bill Murray's younger brother Joel as the kind of witty smart aleck Bill was famous for playing early in his career.  Joel Murray plays Dana Cannon, who one day gets stopped in his vehicle by a motorcycle cop with delusion of grandeur named Deputy Halik (James Keach doing a great slow burn).  The autocratic Halik takes an instant disliking to smirking Dana's constant wisecracks, and the cop's overzealous desire to punish Dana results in him and his female motorcycle partner/lover, Deputy Morris (Lisa Hart Carroll), to get demoted to teaching traffic school.  Well guess who ends up in the nighttime traffic class taught by Deputies Halik and Morris?  That's right, perpetual class-clown Dana, but he's hardly the only misfit.


The very amusing ensemble of Moving Violations includes helium-voiced Jennifer Tilly as a rocket scientist who falls for Dana; Ned Eisenberg as a Travis Bickle-style creep who loves movie violence and gore; Nedra Volz as a senior citizen with Coke-bottle glasses who's as blind as a bat; Wendy Jo Sperber as a hypochondriac who mistakenly and hilariously thinks an ace auto mechanic in the class called Doc (Fred Willard) is a medical doctor; Robert Conrad as the chief of police who's often the victim of Deputy Halik's hapless attempts to punish Dana; and there's also a hilarious cameo by Clara "Where's the Beef?" Peller from the famous hamburger chain TV advertisement.


There are many very funny moments, and only falters in the last reel with a chase sequence that's too silly for its own good.  Ironically, as I recall, Police Academy and Bachelor Party also fell apart somewhat at the end with silly chases.  Nevertheless, this is good wacky fun, and I'm glad it's one of the many less-financially successful Fox titles Anchor Bay has picked up to distribute on DVD.  The 1.85:1 Moving Violations is presented in anamorphic widescreen enhanced for 16 x 9 televisions (plus to look better on regular 4 X 3 sets), and the picture and Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo with Pro Logic surround sounds quite good for a 20-year-old film, yet the audio still shows dated fidelity.  The DVD also features an entertaining audio commentary by director/co-writer Israel, and contains the original theatrical trailer as well as bonus trailers for other Fox films distributed on DVD by Anchor Bay such as License to Drive and Modern Problems.  I only wish some deleted scenes had been included.  There's a photo on the back of the DVD case showing Wendy Jo Sperber screaming next to some pigs, which is taken from a scene that isn't in the movie.  So we know at least one deleted scene existed.



-   Chuck O'Leary


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