Car Dogs (2017) Review
Another fast-paced sales movie has a good cast and strong direction.
Car Dogs is a 2017 comedy/drama about a car sales manager who has one day to achieve the impossible if he wants to keep his job and get the chance to be an owner.
There’s something fascinating about the inner workings of high pressure sales, seen in a number of films, perhaps most notably in James Foley‘s Glengarry Glen Ross, a movie that Car Dogs, a fast-paced comedy/drama set in a car dealership even pays tribute too. From the personal conflicts of the sales team to the deals being made on the floor, it’s sink or swim and while Car Dogs has some fun with the tropes, it lacks edge and plays out more like tepid homage than anything truly critical of the business or lifestyle.
It stars Patrick J. Adams as Mark Chamberlain, the young son of Malcolm (Chris Mulkey) who together run a large car dealership staffed by a big crew of hungry salespeople. Malcolm is a ferocious leader, keeping to his palatial office and belittling his son at every turn, trying to toughen him for a dealership of his own, but today is the day that choice needs to be made. He needs a big sales day and if Mark can’t meet the seemingly impossible goal, he’ll lose his chance to move up and maybe even his job. Now he’s got to get the crew motivated, which isn’t easy as their paychecks are all late, but the larger issue is his wife Ashley (Stefanie Butler), who has good reason to have her husband come home early and is pressuring him to stop making his job a priority.
Directed by Adam Collis, Car Dogs feels like it wants to be a comedy but rarely is, instead walking a broad line of drama that sees a number of standards play out, including characters who squabble over little things, a newbie who looks like a deer caught in headlights, and a sassy female salesperson who plays it smooth cool. That’s not to say the cast isn’t good, because there’s some talent here, including Octavia Spencer, Nia Vardalos, and George Lopez to name a few.
The script plays out like a TV show though with very little attention given to the characters, none of whom really have any depth. Adams in particular lacks the weight and presence needed for the role, even while he tries to bring some heft to it, but he’s not the only one. The whole tone of the film can’t seem to settle on what it wants to be, with Lopez going for laughs while others reach for some pretty stagy theatrics.
When you compare it to the aforementioned Glengarry Glen Ross, which will be inevitable, the cracks really begin to show. That film was rife with tension and atmosphere and while it would be a pipe dream to have lightning strike twice, Car Dogs has nothing that comes close, aside from a spot-on impersonation of Alec Baldwin‘s famous speech. A disappointing misfire, Collis does have some strong direction and great style that provides much-needed momentum, but it can’t save a meandering script and bland performances.
Car Dogs (2017) Review
Movie description: Car Dogs is a 2017 drama about a car sales manager who has one day to achieve the impossible if he wants to keep his job and get the chance to an owner.
Director(s): Adam Collis
Actor(s): Patrick J. Adams, Octavia Spencer, Alessandra Torresani