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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 drinks on duty, sexually harasses nuns, and behaves brazenly towards practically everybody he meets, but is overall cobsidered to have his heart in the right place.
  • The Big Guy: Rodeo. It seems that he's the team's member who specializes in physical jobs/fighting when the need arises.
  • Black Comedy: It's a movie that juxtaposes various comedic scenes with things like 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, though admitedly the latter two are also Played for Drama.
  • 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.
  • Buxom Beauty Standard: Jugs, who is viewed as attractive because of her large breasts. Hell, it's the whole reason why she's nicknamed "Jugs" in the first place!
  • The Casanova: Murdoch, who attempts to seduce every beautiful woman he sees. And even tries to molest an unconscious co-ed.
  • Cool Car: Mother's Chevrolet Sport Van ambulance, which is so customized that it looks more like his personal hot-rod than the work van of an ambulance company.
  • Dirty Cop: Speed. Maybe. He isn't nicknamed "Speed" because he is an ambulance driver (although he was an ambulance driver in Vietnam), but because he was suspended from the local sheriff's office pending an investigation into selling cocaine to children.
  • Drunk Driver: Mother. Probably. It's established that he drinks constantly on the job, and his job happens to be ambulance driver, although it isn't shown to impair his driving.
  • Dude, She's Like in a Coma: Murdoch climbs in with an overdosed co-ed and starts getting undressed. Speed stops him while pretty much just stopping short of quoting the trope word for word.
  • 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. While the titular three characters, Mother, Jugs, and Speed are all the three protagonists of the film, Speed's role tends to revolve around being Mother's foil due to being paired with him, and being the love interest of Jugs.
    • Leroy, Mother's previous partner, also qualifies. Speed was in fact paired with Mother after Leroy died.
  • The Medic: Speed was an ambulance driver in Vietnam.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: Speed and Jugs cover themselves with several bedsheets when they make love 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: Our protagonists are a flawed, quirky ramshackle group of characters.
  • Scary Black Man: Mother is a black man and can be quite threatening when he's drunk. His response when a junkie fatally injured his partner Leroy? Pull out a revolver he had in his glove compartment, though the junkie committed suicide before he could do anything.