Car Babes (2006) / Comedy
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but probably PG-13 for language, a scene of drug use and some sexual humor
Running time: 90 min
Cast: Ben Savage, Blake Clark, Donnell Rawlings, Carolina Garcia, Jon Gries, Stephanie Keeney, Marshall Manesh, David Shackelford, John Campo, Kevan Blackton, Cindy Goldfield
Director: Nick Furnia, Chris Wolf
Screenplay: Blake Dirickson, Nick Furnia, Chris Wolf
Review published June 11, 2008
Car Babes might prove to be a bit of a misnomer for some viewers, particularly ones expecting lots of hot women parading half-naked around hot cars. Granted, there are a couple of attractive women in the film (outside of those in the semi-satirical TV commercials), and one of them wears a bikini in a pool scene, but other than that, don't let the dvd cover fool you into thinking you're going to get a high babe fix. If you're wondering why the film has such a title, the phrase "car babes" is a self-referential phrase used in the film by the car salesmen who comprise the bulk of the characters. Real phrase, or just an excuse to use it for a misleading title? What other tactics would you expect from a film about used car salesmen? Googling the phrase reveals plenty of eye candy, but if a used car salesman reference comes up (that doesn't refer to this film), it is probably too many pages in for me to have the patience to find.
What the film actually centers on is an aimless recent college graduate named Ford Davis (Savage, "Boy Meets World"), who has no better ideas of what to do with his life than to work for his old man, Big Len (Clark, 50 First Dates), at his used car lot, especially since he owes Pop for wrecking one of his loaners. He soon finds out that the life of a car salesman is far from a piece of cake, with shifty customers, shiftier co-workers, and an overriding pressure to constantly move merchandise while trying to get the maximum profit possible. Meanwhile, Ford gets to have a little fun after his girlfriend (Keeney) breaks up with him by dating a local Colombian hairdresser named Alicia (Garcia, SuperCross). But life isn't all fun and games, as the owner of a rival dealership (Blackton) has his heart set on driving Len's lot out of business, which he just might do if the boys can't sell off a record number of cars.
Car Babes isn't the worst workplace comedy I've seen, but it just might be one of the more expendable examples. We've already had a cult classic film on the subject with Used Cars, which is a funnier and more inventive take on the lives of used car salesmen, so to stand out, it will have to bring something truly fresh to the equation. It doesn't, but it is pleasant to watch in a quaint way, and I will admit that I even found it entertaining for a spell. Then around the halfway point, it lost my interest altogether, as a romantic comedy storyline is introduced that loses what tenuous focus the film had by no longer being about used car salesmen. After that point, one realizes that there just weren't enough relevant plot angles to justify a 90-minute length.
Car Babes has an indie comedy quality that makes it difficult to dislike, but without big laughs or an interesting story, there's not much here to recommend to anyone not a Ben Savage fan or citizen of Los Gatos, California, where the film is set. Good character actors do breathe life into roles that lack dimension, though the acting as a whole can be spotty, particularly when the romance settles in. Attempts are made to deliver a coming-of-age story, but there isn't enough depth to Ford's character to be successful as one. From outside appearances, it might look like a cool ride, but after you make your down payment and drive it off the lot, you'll likely realize it's going to need some work to get it in road-worthy condition.
©2008 Vince Leo