[Originally published in Movietone News 66-67, March 1981]
Is there a cure for Southern California? Oh, I don’t mean the smog, the materialism, “the City of the One-Night Stands,” any of that stuffâ€”don’t bother me none. What’s getting to bother me in a big way is the barrenness of cinematic output from those children of Sunny Cal who seem to be running hog wild on the movie scene these days. We could argue about when it started. I couldn’t get too bent out of shape if somebody wanted to insist that Big Wednesday was A Bad Sign a couple of summers ago, even if I found that particular exercise in oafish metaphysics rather endearing; it surely did tend to crawl up its own nether orifice, striking monumental poses (and that’s a difficult position to strike monumental poses in) over a landscape of aspiration and endeavor so specialized as to have nothing but abstract meaning for any non-Californiansâ€”and maybe just nonsurfersâ€”in the audience. And now Milius, for whose directorial career I continue to have high hopes, appears to prefer the role of ursine Godfather to all the up-and-comingâ€”or at least oncomingâ€”cinÃ©astes south and Right of Zoetrope. First he exec-produced 1941 for Spielberg, and contributed to its story base along with Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, whose I Wanna Hold Your Hand Spielberg himself had exec-produced. Now he and Spielberg have exec-produced Zemeckisâ€“Gale’s Used Cars, which by its very title sounds like a godawfully appropriate sequel to last Christmastime’s multimillion-dollar wrecking-derby-masquerading-as-a-hohoho-comedy. And in some important and increasingly distressing ways, it is.