Release: 19 Jun. 04
BY: DAVID PERRY
John Landisí documentary on the art of selling cars could be
the most depressingly boring films of the year. Not only are the moments of
intended levity painfully unfunny, but most of the characters heís
celebrating are annoying and cloying.
The central subject is Michael Bennett, a so-called slasher in the car
business who travels to remote car dealerships around the country to perform
sales that would be otherwise impossible. That this man, who could be the
seediest, most dishonest looking person Iíve ever seen, has a reputation for
convincing people of his sincerity is testament, I suppose, to either my
cynicism or his talents. Bennettís been called to urban Memphis, where no
one has the cash to buy a car unless itís the $88 car in the advertisements.
In other places, he can get people to buy a car while they hope to win the
$88 clunker Ė- in Memphis, they can only buying that cheap car.
And as Landis celebrates Bennett, finding his callow dishonesty to be
respectable even if itís not unlike the ďliesĒ he begins the film with from
Presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Bill Clinton, and
George W. Bush, I could only feel horrible for the Memphis car dealers who
have little money to take care of their dealership and gambled on Bennett to
change things. A follow-up during the credits might have helped, if not for
the fact that it would likely state that Landisí beloved Bennett caused the
car dealership to go out of business, and the kindly men we met from the
place to have started looking for their own $88 lemon.