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Film / Mother, Jugs & Speed

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A full-length exercise in seeing just how far one can go and still get a PG rating (in the words of the writers), this 1976 Black Comedy directed by Peter Yates focuses on an independent ambulance company in competition with another independent ambulance company for a contract with the City of Los Angeles.

The cast includes:

This film provides examples of

  • Anti-Hero: Mother.
  • The Big Guy: Rodeo.
  • Black Comedy
  • Brutal Honesty: Mother tells it like it is, even more so when he's had a few drinks. A good example is when the woman died in the ambulance after giving birth. The next day, Jugs and Speed are pretty torn up about it, while Mother is his usual relaxed self. Jugs tries to call him out on it, but Mother drops the jokey act right away and goes stone cold.
    Mother: What you saw last night was massive internal bleeding that no doctor in the world could have done anything about with the limited equipment we've got on that ambulance. You work this job, you'd better start understanding that things like that are going to happen.
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  • Buxom Is Better: Jugs!
  • The Casanova: Murdoch.
  • The Chick: Jugs!
    • Also Mrs. Fishbine, the naive sort.
  • Cool Car: Mother's customized Chevrolet Sport Van ambulance.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Harry Fishbine, of the low-rent sort.
  • Dirty Cop: Speed. Maybe.
  • Drunk Driver: Mother. Probably.
  • Dude, She's Like, in a Coma!: Murdoch climbing in with an overdosed co-ed and getting undressed.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Barney at the hamburger stand has this to say:
    Barney: I lied four times in my life; I stole apples when I was a kid; I cheated on my wife once; I even prayed for the death of my in-laws. But putting mayonnaise on a bacon cheeseburger with peanut butter and onions is a sin you alone will have to be responsible for!
  • In the Style of...: Most reviews of the film characterize it as an attempt to replicate Robert Altman's brand of freewheeling Ensemble Cast Dramedy. Specifically, it was seen as 20th Century Fox trying to create another M*A*S*H, right down to it involving medical personnel and attempting a TV spinoff.
  • The Lancer: Speed.
    • Leroy, Mother's previous partner, also qualifies.
  • The Medic: Speed was an ambulance driver in Vietnam.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: likely several bedsheets with Speed and Jugs in the back of an ambulance.
  • Mood Whiplash: quite a few. For example: Murdoch wanting to rape an unconscious co-ed, a desperate junkie killing Leroy then herself, and a woman giving birth in Mother's ambulance then dying.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits
  • Scary Black Man: Mother can be when he's drunk.
  • The Stoner: Murdoch.
  • Token Minority: Mother is the only person of color in his company.


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