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‘Cadillac Man’

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
May 18, 1990


Roger Donaldson
Robin Williams;
Tim Robbins;
Pamela Reed;
Fran Drescher;
Zack Norman
Under 17 restricted

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ROBIN WILLIAMS as a car salesman sounds like a box-office winner: Mr. Improv, the motor-mouthed deejay of "Good Morning, Vietnam," making you comic offers you can't refuse, negotiating his way into America's funny bone (sorry), with those quips and impersonations that seem to fly out of his mouth six at a time.

In "Cadillac Man," the new movie by Roger ("No Way Out") Donaldson, Williams certainly has his share of Robin-esque rejoinders, but he never quite reaches the feverish sales pitch most of his fans are likely to expect.

That's mainly because the script spends a long time establishing Williams as a Queens salesman with dwindling car sales (he even pushes business cards at funerals) and a string of demanding women in his life (his mother, Mimi Cecchini, ex-wife Pamela Reed, mistress Fran Drescher, girlfriend Lori Petty).

It's not until halfway through the movie, when homicidally jealous husband Tim Robbins drives his motorbike through the showroom window, plastic explosives taped to his gas tank and an assault rifle in his hand, that "Cadillac" picks up.

Or starts to pick up. Robbins, who was the hotdog pitcher in "Bull Durham," is convinced (correctly) that his wife (Anabella Sciorra) is having an affair and demands that the lover come clean before he shoots everyone. To save the neck of the guilty party, Williams, whose life happens to have reached rock bottom (he owes to a mobster too), pretends to be the one.

From then on, it's an extended odd-buddy encounter between the two men, a "Dog Day Afternoon"-type situation with showroom hostages, SWAT teams, policemen toting bullhorns and an open phone line between cops and Robbins.

With Williams playing the pacifying voice of reason, it's Robbins who gets the bigger share of laughs: "Everyone {bleeping} shut up!" he screams at the bickering hostages who are beginning to find out extramarital things about each other. "This is my thing!"

But the stakeout goes on forever and gets sitcomier and sitcomier, especially when Williams's women get on that hotline -- his Mom too, his ex-wife, his girlfriend . . . . Where's John Rambo at a time like this, to come in and blow the cuteness sky-high?

Finally things reach their obvious climax and we return to the tender story of a deep-down-goodhearted salesman with an ex-wife who (as always) shouldn't have been an ex-wife in the first place. That's when you realize this "Cadillac" has become a No Sale.

CADILLAC MAN (R) -- Area theaters.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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