Friday, February 12, 2016

Zero to Sixty (1978)



A noisy action comedy with distasteful implications of romantic attraction between a 16-year-old girl and a man old enough to be her grandfather, Zero to Sixty wastes a spirited performance by versatile film/TV leading man Darren McGavin on a wispy plot. Some might find the picture borderline watchable because it features lots of cartoonish characters and car chases, but the combination of pointlessness and stupidity is hard to overcome. The film’s setup is convoluted and questionable. Briefly, McGavin plays an everyman who loses his home and his job following a nasty divorce, then falls in with a motley car-repossession crew. He’s teamed with Larry (Denise Nickerson), an obnoxious teenaged girl who lives in a trailer, and they cruise Los Angeles trying to reclaim cars from deadbeats. A typical scene involves Larry seizing a motorcycle from a biker gang, the members of which pursue her until McGavin’s character shows up to pretend he’s a cop and wrangle Larry free from danger. The movie also supports a gruesome subplot inspired by the Jimmy Hoffa story, because the protagonists discover the body of a murdered labor leader in the trunk of a car. McGavin gives the kind of exasperated, frenetic performance that one might expect to find in a Disney movie, but none of the other performers match his deft style. Nickerson is so loud and overbearing that she's unpleasant to watch, and the same can be said of supporting players Joan Collins (as a glamorous deadbeat) and Sylvia Miles (as the boss of the repo crew). Adding to the film’s death-by-a-thousand cuts vibe, Lyle Waggoner shows up for one scene as a bartender whose flirty patter sends McGavin’s character into a gay panic, and the awful musical score waffles between dopey stings and disco-inflected muck.

Zero to Sixty: LAME

3 comments:

Cindylover1969 said...

Joan Collins is always unpleasant to watch.

J said...

Wow. I didn't realize that the byproduct of reviewing all of the classics and near-classics of the decade will leave you with film after film of dreck. But i'm still hanging in there.

William Blake Hall said...

Fun fact: McGavin's name of birth is William Lyle Richardson, and he is credited as the writer of this as W. Lyle Richardson. McGavin and his wife Kathie Brown are also credited with the writing behind a true obscurity, the documentary American Reunion (1976) about a high school reunion, a project generated from his bumping into a Hallmark Cards executive on a plane. Nowadays we forget that Collins was once considered a hot item, so this photograph alone may have pleased McGavin.