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Film / Moving Violations

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Moving Violations is a 1985 comedy film directed by Neal Israel (Police Academy, Bachelor Party), notable for starring the lesser-known siblings of many famous actors and for being the film debut of Don Cheadle.

The film follows a group of people who, after being ticketed for numerous traffic violations, lose their licenses and have their vehicles impounded. They are ordered by Judge Nedra Henderson (Sally Kellerman) to attend a driving course program in order to get their licenses and their vehicles back. However, it seems the assigned teacher for this course, Deputy Henry "Hank" Halik (James Keach), is conspiring with the judge in a scheme to make sure that these offenders fail miserably, and at any cost, so that their vehicles may be sold for profit. This makes one of the course students, landscaper Dana Cannon (John Murray), highly suspicious, and he enlists his fellow drivers to expose the plot.

Moving Violations contains examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: Clara Peller is basically playing her "Where's the Beef" character.
  • Avoid The Dreaded PG Rating: To avoid being given a PG, Nedra Volz was given a "fuck" to say during one line.
  • Angry Guard Dog: After breaking into the impound bey using a corrosive liquid Wink made to burn a gap in the chain link fence, Jeff is the first one to go through, only to immediately come face to snout with a pair of snarling dobermans.
  • Blind Mistake: A Running Gag. A character played by Nedra Volz repeatedly does this. Some classics include: driving onto an airport runway and sitting in a unrinal and asking "Why's my back all wet?"
  • Bribe Backfire: Upon her role in the scheme being uncovered, the DA demands an explanation from Judge Nedra. She suggestively offers to give him a "strip search" in exchange for him calling it even. He immediately has her locked up alongside Halik.
  • Brick Joke: One character, Wink, spends the whole film making gory horror-movie references and savoring gruesome safety-warning films like Blood on the Highway. During the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue drive-by, we finally see what sort of vehicle he'd been driving when he got sent to traffic school in the first place, and it's a hearse, as Wink works in the funeral business.
  • Car Meets House: Due to Doc screwing with the transmission, Halik puts the car in drive, finds out it's now stuck in reverse and ends up having to smash through his own house backwards to chase after the band of driving school students.
  • Deadpan Snarker: No matter the situation or person, Dana has no problem giving smart-ass remarks to those who wish to give him a hard time, including police officers and most of his lines consist of such but he's still incredibly likeable. The fact that the actor playing him is one of Bill Murray's brothers definitely helps!
  • Dirty Cop: Deputy Hank Halik.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Halik and the judge are so busy getting busy that they don't notice Nedra Volz falling on top of them and their gyrations tossing her around the bed.
  • Everyone Chasing You: During the climactic chase scene, one of the characters runs through a convention of police chiefs and ends up with all of the attendees (in full uniform) chasing after them.
  • Expy: Due to this film having been written by both writers of the first Police Academy movie with one of them even directing, a few characters are very similar to those from Police Academy:
    • Dana is a snarky smartass much like Mahoney.
    • Halik and his corrupt female accomplice very much bring to mind Lt. Harris and Callahan (though Callahan was the Lesser of Two Evils).
    • Wink is essentially Tackleberry with the gun obsession swapped with one for horror movies.
    • Amy Hopkins, as Dana's love interest, is one for Karen Thompson.
  • Fight Scene: Downplayed; Halik at one point challenges Dana to a physical fight and rhetorically asks him how he wants to do it, suggesting boxing and karate before demonstrating his skill at both, punching and kicking the air. Dana eventually gets him to agree to a simple arm wrestling competition which he wins though an unusual method.
  • Fingertip Drug Analysis: When Deputy Morris finds a suspicious white powder on the seat of Dana's truck, she dips her finger in it and sticks it in her mouth. Only after she has done so does Dana inform her that it's guano.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: One scene has the characters watch a gory traffic safety PSA called Blood Flows Red On The Highway where a group of schoolchildren are plowed into by a drunk driver. All we see are books and clothing sent flying with blood and guts splattering on a car's windshield, but what we don't see is implied to be incredibly graphic, gory, and violent if the delighted giggling from Wink and the horrified reactions of his classmates are anything to go by.
  • Groin Attack: A bowling ball flies out of Joan's car during a spin-out and lands right in an old man's lap with an audible "thump!".
  • Had the Silly Thing in Reverse: The bad cop's squad car is rigged by Doc to go into reverse gear instead of park and not be able to be changed to another gear, forcing him to drive backward during the concluding car chase after reversing into his own house. As he's losing his temper, he proceeds to deliberately back up through the rear wall of his house, then his garden and finally a brick wall. His car doesn't last much longer afterwards.
  • Hanging Judge: Judge Nedra Henderson.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Finally fed up with Dana after he breaks into the impound and steals back his truck, Halik steals it and robs a store at gunpoint while wearing his usual jacket and uses Dana's truck as a getaway vehicle to frame him which works and Dana is sentenced to a lengthy stay in prison. Once the final chase reaches the DA's office, Halik is wearing the same insigna-covered jacket to cover up the bondage gear he's wearing underneath it. A witness to the robbery just so happens to be there as well and points out that Halik's jacket is identical to the robbers which blows his cover and Dana's name is cleared.
  • Hypochondria: One of the students is a woman with a severe case of this. She was sent to traffic school after swerving her car and the weight of all the bowling balls she had just bought causing it to spin out of control flinging them everywhere while panicking that she was three minutes late to take her pills.
  • Idiot Ball: Dana steals back his truck from the impound lot out of desperation not to lose a client. If only he had remembered to take the keys out of the ignition upon returning to his greenery...
  • Kids Are Cruel: A bunch of bored kids unlatch Scott Greeber's puppeteering trailer from his car, causing it to head downhill and crash into a funeral parlor. Said kids are never punished.
  • Kiss of Distraction: After Halik challenges him to a fight, Dana gets him to agree to a simple arm-wrestling match and Halik has a smug grin on his grin as one of Dana's classmates counts down from 3. Once he gets to 2, Dana suddenly plants an open-mouthed kiss on Halik's lips, one-sidely making out with him for a few seconds before breaking it, only to immediately win the arm-wrestling competition due to Halik being too shocked at what just happened.
  • Never My Fault: Halik smashes up a car that he thought belonged to Dana, only for the car to actually belong to his commanding officer who cancels his promotion and demotes him to traffic school. He stills blames Dana for it.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Wink is a gorehound who loves slasher movies and talks about them all the time, asking his classmates if they've seen certain slasher films and apparently thinks a viewing of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is what Jeff needs to get his mind off of having gotten his father's prized Mercedes impounded. Whereas the traffic safety PSA has his classmates screaming and horrified, Wink cannot get enough of it, laughing and giggling like a lunatic. His obssesion with gore even has him getting excited at the prospect of being potentially shot in a shoot out.
  • No Periods, Period: The relationship between the two strict motorcycle cops is implied when he tells her he got a promotion, and she replies that she got her period. They then clasp hands, suggesting that the latter is as big a relief to the pair (who do not want kids) as the former.
  • Pac-Man Fever: The class had arcade machines with Pole Position as driving simulators.
  • Parental Obliviousness: A teamster and overprotective father is apparently unaware his 15-year-old daughter is a law-breaking punk who poses as an adult and sleeps around. Then again, she's apparently been deliberately deceiving him since she was 12.
  • Police Are Useless: Played for comedy; aside from the two dirty cops, around 100 officers can't catch our small group of characters on foot, not even with a cop on a motorcycle who inexplicably never has it go faster than a jogging pace.
  • The Precious, Precious Car: Jeff didn't get his own car impounded when he got pulled over; it was his father's prized 1984 Mercedes-Benz 500 SEL, a brand-new car at the time. He repeatedly says "My father's gonna kill me!", due to his dad being out of town and expecting to be picked up in said Mercedes at the airport. When they fail to break the cars out, Jeff and Wink steal an identical Mercedes and pick Jeff's father up in it with an hour's time to get the car back. Jeff's father buys it, but is confused by their urgency.
  • Railroad Tracks of Doom: Played With. The nearly-blind old lady's car stalls on the tracks, and she refuses to get out. The other characters hastily push her car out of the way just in time. Finally aware of the danger, the old lady joins the others on the roadside to gape at the passing train, only to have her car, now empty on the street, run down by an 18-wheeler.
  • Recruiting the Criminal: During the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue, an on-screen caption proclaims that the lead character was sentenced to traffic school so many times that the county made him the instructor in desperation. Who now passes everybody who takes the course.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Deputy Hank is reassigned to teaching traffic school indefinitely after unintentionally vandalising his commanding officer's car.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: Dana and Amy go to the NASA facilities and start making out in a weightlessness simulator. They undress (his shirt and her blouse, respectively), and then that pair of clothes start making out, too, while floating, mimicking the unseen actions of the couple.
  • Sustained Misunderstanding: Joan mistakes Doc for an actual doctor and asks for advice on how to deal with her medical issues, but asks about them in such an ambiguous way (for example, exclusively using "rear end" to describe her butt) that Doc thinks she's describing mechanical problems her car is having and advises her on what to do while using ambiguous terminology that Joan thinks are referring to her medical issues. This leads to Joan flushing all water out of her system, chugging a bottle of cooking oil, greasing up her butt and then running as fast as she can alongside the highway for ten miles.
    • Gets exaggerated when Doc has her come by The Clinic, Doc's hospital-themed auto repair shop, where she thinks it's an actual clinic and ends up butt-naked on a car lift.
  • "Take That!" Kiss: After Hank challenge Dana to a wrestling arms' match, the latter take this way, and won.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Played for laughs; In the PSA Blood Flows Red on the Highway that the class watches, not a single one of the kids attempts to get out of the path of the drunk driver barrelling towards them.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: The lady cop who was also sentenced to traffic school is initially onboard with Halik's scheme and they have an active sex life together... until she catches him exchanging kisses with the corrupt judge. She still goes along with the scheme but acts very coldly towards Halik. Once she actually catches them in bed together, she reveals the entire scheme to our heroes and actively helps reveal the scheme and gets Halik and the Judge locked up.
  • Unwinnable Training Simulation: The corrupt judge and policeman set up an unwinnable driving course to ensure the traffic-school students will all fail, allowing the pair to sell off their cars and keep the money.
  • Vandalism Backfire: The two bully cops hassle John Murray's character and smash the tail light of the car he is standing next to so they can give him a ticket. They get carried away and start breaking other parts of the car only for him to say it's not his car. It turns out to belong to their commanding officer.
    • And he's not happy. Cue getting sent to teach traffic school, indefinitely.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: One of the people attending the driving school vomits into a coffee mug while watching Blood Flows Red on the Highway but no vomit is actually shown.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The movie ends with the police commissioner driving past one cast member after another, all of them having been pulled over for yet another traffic violation. An on-screen caption proclaims that the lead character was sentenced to traffic school so many times that the county made him the instructor in desperation. Who now passes everybody who takes the course.
  • Zero-G Spot: John Murray and Jennifer Tilly's characters have an intimate encounter in a weightlessness simulator.