An ensemble cast is ready to take your fare in this underrated 80’s comedy from the director of Batman Forever.
Welcome to D.C. Cab, hailed as one of the lowest-ranking cab companies in our nation’s capital. They have one of the worst reputations in the city as the drivers consist of an eclectic group. Albert Hockenberry is a young man who has arrived from Georgia to look for D.C. Cab. The company’s owner Harold Osborne went to Vietnam with Albert’s dad Deke, who recently passed away. Albert makes his intentions known. He wants to potentially own his own cab company and wants Harold as a mentor. But this is a ride he will never forget.
Albert gets to know each of the drivers, including the good-nature Samson, loudmouth Dell, musclebound twins Buddy and Buzzy, self-proclaimed gigolo Javier, musician Baba, and the very outspoken Tyrone. Albert soon warms up to the group but when a chance to revive the company is thwarted by Harold’s selfish and greedy wife, Albert takes his life savings and offers the cabbies a chance to become partners with Harold. Most of the group decide to join in but things get shady when Albert is kidnapped along with the Ambassador’s kids and he’s framed for the kidnappings. The cab company also finds themselves shut down by the conniving Mr. Bravo. It’s time for this gang to rally up and rescue Albert and the kids as well as get their company open for business again.
Before Police Academy and after Animal House came this film, written by Topper Carew and director Joel Schumacher, who would be responsible for ending the original Batman franchise fourteen years later with Batman and Robin. Thankfully, he did redeem himself with Phantom of the Opera before his passing in 2020. This is one of his earlier films and while it was panned by critics in its initial release, it is hailed today as a cult classic and this is one that is underrated.
The story of a motley crew of taxi drivers and the young upstart who goes to great lengths to save them in their time of need is actually pulled off well by an ensemble cast. Adam Baldwin, three years after his breakout role as high school enforcer Ricky in My Bodyguard, does a reverse type as the likable Albert. He is the young rookie who eventually becomes the company’s saving grace when he offers to give his life savings to save the company due to greed on the part of the owner’s wife. Baldwin’s character is the heart of the film as he is the center of the two pivotal moments of the film: the resurgence of the company and the third act kidnapping portion.
The ensemble cast helps drive the film and in the case of bickering and eventually separated couple Harold (Barney Miller’s Max Gail) and Myrna (Anne DeSalvo), their relationship is a subplot as Myrna is a conniving and greedy woman who only looks out for herself and freaks out when things don’t go her way. Mr. T is great as the good-natured Samson, who gives a very inspiring speech during the film’s third act. Gary Busey lets loose as the foul-mouthed wildman Dell. The late Charlie Barnett is hilarious as Tyrone, a hair-roller sporting loud mouth who in a very memorable scene with Baldwin attempts to drive a cab on the train tracks for a long time only to get scared to a whole new level of hysterics. A pre-Politically Incorrect Bill Maher, Marsha Warfield, and twin brothers Peter and David Paul round out the group of motley cabbies while the late Whitman Mayo’s Mr. Rhythm acts as the (to coin the term loosely) “spiritual guide” to the group.
D.C. Cab is an underrated 80’s gem with an ensemble cast that could be best described as “Taxi meets Police Academy”. A third-act kidnapping plot just shows the unity between this motley crew of cab drivers in our nation’s capital. A fun and wild ride that I would take any fare.
WFG RATING: B+
A Universal Pictures production. Director: Joel Schumacher. Producer: Topper Carew. Writers: Joel Schumacher and Topper Carew. Cinematography: Dean Cundey. Editing: David E. Blewett.
Cast: Max Gail, Adam Baldwin, Mr. T., Charlie Barnet, Gary Busey, Gloria Gifford, Marsha Warfield, Bill Maher, DeWayne Jessie, Paul Rodriguez, Whitman Mayo, Peter Paul, David Paul, Irene Cara.