• D.C. Cab (Kino Lorber) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Kino Lorber
    Released on: December 1st, 2020.
    Director: Joel Schumacher
    Cast: Adam Baldwin, Mr. T, Gary Busey, Jill Schoelen
    Year: 1983
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    D.C. Cab – Movie Review:

    Directed by none other than Joel Schumacher and released theatrically in 1983, D.C. Cab is set, maybe not so surprisingly, in Washington, D.C. and it revolves around a young man named Albert Hockenberry (Adam Baldwin) who decides to embark on a new career as a cab driver. He finds work at a ramshackle little cab company called ‘The D.C. Cab Company’ where he winds up learning the tricks of the trade from the likes of guys like Uncle Howard (Max Gail), Samson (Mr. T) and Dell (Gary Busey). Never mind the fact that this company is so broke they can’t even pick up fares at the airport since they can’t afford the licenses required to do that.

    As Albert learns the ropes, he gets mixed up in a plot where two kids from a very affluent family wind up kidnapped, all while falling in love with a beautiful waitress named Claudette (Jill Schoelen).

    D.C. Cab is very much a product of its time, dated to an almost ridiculous degree, and while best be enjoyed by those with an affinity for eighties nostalgia, but even putting that aside, there are some very funny bits in here. If this isn’t the most consistently funny comedy film ever made, it hits enough of the right beats at enough of the right moments to easily entertain those who don’t necessarily need their comedy to be politically correct.

    Much of the reason for this is the cast, rather than the script. Mr. T plays the same surly, tough guy character here that he’s played in everything else you’ve ever seen him in, and while he’s maybe a one-trick pony in that regard, he does what he does pretty well and the movie never asks him to do anything he can’t handle. As such, he’s funny to watch here, the film’s bull in a china shop if you will. Gary Busey is also a kick here, his crazed, toothy grin relaying his character’s mischievous intentions though while he’s an actor who was, at one time at least, capable of giving a legitimately good performance when handed the right material, he isn’t stepping outside of his comfort zone in this picture any more than Mr. T is. Adam Baldwin’s lead gets a bit more of a character arc here, and he handles the material without any issues, while lovely Jill Schoelen holds her own against the predominantly male cast members and Max Gail does a decent enough job offering his support. Marsha Warfield from Night Court also pops up here as a cabbie who gets robbed.

    The movie itself really doesn’t have nearly as much to do with cab driving as you’d expect it to. There are a few gags here and there that tie into the movie (the opening Star Wars inspired bit is a good example, as is the airport scene!) but overall, it’s a pretty loose picture, thematically speaking. Still, Schumacher keeps the pacing right, ensuring that we get enough jokes with enough frequency to keep the entertainment value high enough to matter even if the unnecessary kidnapping subplot can slow things down a bit. Production values are decent enough, with pretty much the entire film shot on location in D.C. and showing off more than just the Capital area that is so common in films.

    D.C. Cab – Blu-ray Review:

    D.C. Cab arrives on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber on a 25GB disc with the feature given 20.7GBs of space on that disc. The transfer is presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and is framed at 1.85.1 widescreen. Clearly taken from an older existing master supplied by Universal, the picture quality here is watchable enough but it still leaves plenty of room for improvement. The biggest issue is the obvious, and clearly overzealous, sharpening that’s been done, resulting in a picture that rarely looks as naturally filmic as it should. There’s also some DNR here, and as such, detail, while better than what DVD could have offered, is lacking. On the plus side, there’s no print damage here at all and the colors look quite good, as do the black levels and skin tones. It’s just a shame that the movie wasn’t given a proper remaster for this release.

    Audio for the feature is handled by an English language 16-bit DTS-HD 2.0 mix. Optional subtitles are offered in English only. No problems to note here, the audio is strong. Dialogue is clean, clear and always easy to understand while the mix is nicely balanced throughout. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion, there’s a good amount of depth here and the score sounds really good.

    Extras start off with a new audio commentary by Film Historian/Filmmaker Daniel Kremer and Film Critic Scout Tafoya that covers the film's debt to Car Wash, the cinematography of Dean Cudney, how and why Joel Schumacher wound up directing this picture, the importance of casting Mr. T and Adam Baldwin in the picture, Bill Maher's involvement in the movie, details on the different cast and crew members that populate the production, how the movie differs from other comedy films of the era, the soundtrack and use of music in the movie, the love/hate relationship that Washington D.C. has with the movie, how certain cast members have gone on to have bizarre political bents to their respective careers, the film's budget and quite a bit more.

    Aside from that, we get eight radio spots (one, in Spanish), a trailer for the feature and bonus trailers for My Bodyguard, Bustin’ Loose, Moving Violations and Veronica Guerin. Menus and chapter selection options are also provided.

    D.C. Cab – The Final Word:

    D.C. Cab may be an imperfect film, but it’s still a pretty funny one thanks to some good bits and a quirky cast. Kino’s Blu-ray won’t blow you away with amazing video quality, but it’s watchable enough and the audio is solid. The main extra on the disc is the commentary, which is worth listening to. Overall, this is a fun release even if it does leave room for improvement.

    Click on the images below for full sized D.C. Cab Blu-ray screen caps!