1976 was a good year if you were a blaxploitation film. The genre was riding high and just about all of the films were turning a profit. It was an even better year if you were a blaxploitation film with an amazing soundtrack. The movie best fitting that bill was CAR WASH.
Michael Schultz, the man behind the camera that has given BADMOVIEART lots of lovin'( CARBON COPY, THE LAST DRAGON, SGT. PEPPERS LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND) almost doesn't seem to know what he has on his hands and somehow it works. With a surprisingly tigh script by Joel Schumacher, CAR WASH is at one minute fluff and witty, then suddenly is hardcore and gritty. The balance between both feelings are so well done that it doesn't seem jarring at all. You almost don't even notice it until it is done.
CAR WASH is one of those great " a day in the life of" movies. It starts when the work bell rings and ends just after closing. Within that day we see a parade of customers ranging from the well to do to the hobos that live around the corner. We catches glimpses of the employees that work at the CAR WASH throughout the movie, but never staying to long on one and never really getting the whole story. Little moments ranging from silly love stories to the hearbreak of a father trying to do what is right all are played with sincerity and full of honest and humble emotions. Something that I never ever thought I would see from the writer of DYING YOUNG.
The two characters that truly hold the movie together are two of the ones with the least amount of lines and screentime, but everytime you see them, you heart races with joy! First is Marlene. We first see Marlene asleep in a taxi. When she wakes up and realizes that she doesn't know where she is or how she is going to pay for the taxi, she bails and hides out at the car wash. She spends the entire day there, washing her clothes in the bathroom, lounging around, giving out blowjobs and sipping beer through straws. Truly, a woman after my own heart. Her bored and mindless journey through the car wash sums up the feelings of the workers there. Lost souls trying to connect somehow in this weird sudsy world.
Next up is Calvin. The character of Calvin is from the heavens. Calvin is this nightmare child who runs around the city block, tormenting just about everyone in sight. Armed with only his skateboard and his sassy tongue, Calvin will read you to flith in one second and then skate away. He pops up at the best times during the movie to give the entire cast raspberry after raspberry. No one is safe from Calvin. Strangely enough, this was Calvin's only film credits besides being a dancer in SING (which i love!).
Hot topics such as racism, homosexuality, poverty, religion and damning the man, are all touched on, but quickly dismissed, because at the end of the day, all that matters is that the car is washed to perfection. CAR WASH cannot be mentioned without discussing its soundtrack. Rose Royce pumps tune after amazing tune on the soundtrack and the film pulls off its biggest coup. Two of the employees are practicing for a their two man singing/dancing gig and what better place to practice, but at work. Randomly, you will see these two men busting out dance moves in the background, giving the film a strange musical feel to it.
CAR WASH surprised me with just how big its heart was and it was actually in the right place. And the POINTER SISTERS are in it!!