Moving Violations (1985) Poster

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4/10
John is no Bill
SnoopyStyle21 March 2015
It's Birch County, California. Deputy Halik (James Keach) is a brute that just got his promotion from the Chief. Judge Nedra Henderson (Sally Kellerman) orders a bunch of bad drivers to traffic school. Dana Cannon (John Murray) tricks Halik and Deputy Morris to smash up the Chief's car. They are reduced to teaching traffic school. Judge Henderson conspire with the two cops to fail the incompetent group and sell their impounded vehicles. The group includes Cannon, the ditsy NASA scientist Amy Hopkins (Jennifer Tilly), hypochondriac Joan Pudillo (Wendie Jo Sperber), puppeteer Scott Greeber (Brian Backer), Doc Williams (Fred Willard) and near-blind Loretta Houk (Nedra Volz) who drove Emma Jean (Where's the beef? Clara Peller) onto the airport runway.

John Murray is not funny enough and is a pale imitation of his brother Bill Murray. The movie may work marginally with Bill in the lead. Without him, the movie has limits and one can't help but notice that John's mannerisms are very alike to Bill. Of course, John doesn't quite have the same charisma or energy. The movie struggles to maintain group chemistry. The jokes struggle for laughs.
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9/10
One of the All-Time Great Comedies
gavin694222 May 2017
The goofy students of a remedial drivers education class find themselves butting heads with their abusive police instructors.

I had never heard of this film until 2017 when it was brought to my attention by Rue Morgue magazine. This is rather odd, because Rue Morgue is completely horror-themed, and "Moving Violations" is not, but they wanted to call attention to the horror fan who was in the traffic school.

Overall, this is a comedy much funnier than others that are better known. John Murray is as good as his older brother, for example. And Jennifer Tilly is great, despite my not really knowing who she was until long after this film came out. How was I not aware of her so much sooner?
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7/10
Wonderful
BandSAboutMovies5 May 2020
Warning: Spoilers
After Police Academy and Bachelor Party, Neal Israel and Pat Proft made this film, which has a great cast of 80's comedy folks. It's the ultimate hijinks ensue kind of movie, where a bunch of oddballs all lose their licenses and have to go to traffic school. Unbeknownst to them, Judge Nedra Henderson (Sally Kellerman) plans on selling their cars and keeping them from ever driving again.

Deputy Henry "Hank" Halik (John Keach, brother of Stacy) and Deputy Virginia Morris (Lisa Hart Carroll, Patsy from Terms of Endearment) are the tough cops running things.

They're up against Dana Cannon (instead of just getting anybody to be a Bill Murray ripoff, Moving Violations at least hires his brother John), NASA scientist Amy Hopkins (Jennifer Tilly), teen Scott Greeber (Brian Backer, Rat from Fast Times at Ridgemont High), Where's the Beef? lady Clara Peller, Wendie Jo Sperber as a hypochondriac, Lust in the Dust's Nedra Volz, Fred Willard as a card mechanic, Nadine van der Velde from Critters, Don Cheadle in one of his first movies and Dedee Pfieffer from House 3/The Horror Show.

I love that Robert Conrad is in this. He turned down the role of Lassard in the first Police Academy and did this movie because he regretted that decision. And I adore the scene where Willard asks Sperber to get her car up on the rack and she thinks that he means her. It's totally stupid, but isn't that why you're watching this?
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6/10
Moving Violations
Scarecrow-8818 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
A group of people, whose vehicles are held because of traffic violations, must pass the test of hardened, tight-wad Deputy Halik(James Keach)and his very butch lover Virginia(Lisa Hart Carroll). What weighs against them, other than their own ineptitude, is that crooked Judge Henderson(Sally Kellerman playing the usual sexpot slut)is in cahoots with Halik on failing them despite their chances of passing so that they can sell their cars and share the profit. Henderson also offers her bed to Halik. Will they be able to outwit Henderson and Halik? John Murray(who is indeed imitating his brother..but doing it very well because he's quite funny)plays Dana Cannon, the one responsible for costing Halik a big promotion. Halik and Virginia attacked a car believing it was Dana's but was indeed their chief's! So being busted down to traffic teaching really has Halik gunning for Dana. The cast has some recognizable faces such as a young frizzy-haired, bubble-headed Jennifer Tilly as Amy, Dana's love interest and an employee of NASA! Brian Backer, with his bulging eyes, plays Scott, a puppeteer in love with a 15-year old punk rocker(who pretends to be older and passes off as an ordinary clean-cut girl until the bad side comes out). Wendie Jo Sperber has a hilarious role as hypochondriac Joan who doesn't understand that Fred Willard's "Doc" Williams is an auto mechanic(she thinks he's a doctor, he thinks she's wanting her car worked on..the dialogue of the scene and when she comes to visit for a "check up" are priceless).

But, the real laughs come from Nedra Volz as Loretta Houk. She's blind as a bat and this provides some gut-busting moments of true silliness such as the scene where she mistakingly goes into the men's room and wonders why her back is all wet(..or how she wound up in the class to begin with;she actually drove her car onto an airstrip!!).
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1/10
Dumb
view_and_review11 February 2020
I guess writer/director Neal Israel didn't feel like stretching himself to create something too different from what he had already created in "Police Academy." This was a generic flea market version of Police Academy. The male traffic cop was a knock off of Lieutenant Harris while the lead character was this Steve Guttenberg/Chevy Chase hybrid without any of their good traits. I couldn't even finish this silly nonsense of a movie. The plot was dumb and the characters dumber.
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7/10
Take a lesser Murray and add to it a b talent class and you get a rather funny movie.
Aaron137516 March 2009
Yes, this movie is stupid and some of the jokes are rather crude, but I find it a lot more funny than most mainstream comedy movies released these days. The story and movie has the basic setup and premises of the Police Academy movies, however other than maybe the first police academy I found this movie better than that series. We have a group of people in this movie that have accumulated so many parking tickets that they must complete a training course to reclaim their licenses and even their cars. Granted I have to agree with the guy in the puppet show stand...why was he there? You have your usual ensemble cast for these types of movies, Bill Murray's brother is the headliner and he is somewhat good. Jennifer Tilly is also in this one, however I say that the guy teaching the cast played by Keech is the funniest character with the possible exception of that old lady when she is drunk. Plenty of funny scenes within as well as the scene of the woman following the "doctor's" advice was really funny as too was the scenes of the students watching the bloody asphalt movie. The movie gathers a lot of steam, but the ending just is not up to the rest of the film where we get the comedic chase scene. Still, for a movie with only minor stars and a by the numbers type story this movie was pretty funny.
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6/10
Fine premise, starts well, sadly drop on the final!!!!
elo-equipamentos14 November 2019
On early scenes everything seems perfect, a fine premise developed by odd characters, suggesting a promising comedy, John Murray starring the picture has a heavy shadows of his famous brother behind him, Jennifer Tilly is just an usual beauty girl, however James Keach was fantastic as the vindictive Deputy Halik, always committing silly mistakes, when he meets the rogue Judge Nedra (Sally Kellerman) he stays worst, the picture has good moments really, somehow drop in final on those chasing scenes on main street with Halik and Judge Nedra wearing masochistic clothes, among on the street parade, not convincing at all and not so funny!!!

Resume: First watch: 1988 / How many: 4 / Source: TV-DVD / Rating: 6.5
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1/10
this movie is a violation(but my cactus liked it)
disdressed1212 January 2007
i should have known what i was getting myself into as soon as i realized some of the same people behind Police Academy,were responsible for this thing.but,i thought i'd give it a shot.turns out,all copies of this movie should be shot into outer space,where it can do no harm,at least to us earthlings.i guess if i was 12.this movie might be funny,but i doubt it.the movie(and i use this term loosely)is basically about a bunch of odd characters who get sentenced to traffic school in order to get their licenses back.this movie is really bad,alright,but,believe it or not,there are much worse movies,which should also join this thing on its outer space voyage.it is awful, but there are varying degrees of awful.on the awful meter this thing ranks somewhere almost near the middle.i think my cactus liked it.i'm sure i heard it laugh a few times.as for my fellow human beings,however, if you are looking for a comedy-keep looking. a very weak 1/10
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4/10
Lame, moronic, stupid - and pleasant.
gridoon12 January 2003
Some of the supporting players get their laughs (the almost-blind old lady and the gore fan stand out). But John Murray is unfunny, unfunny, unfunny and unfunny. You WON'T wonder why he never got a starring vehicle again. As for the level of the humor, well, if the first exchange doesn't clue you in ("I got a promotion" - "Great, and I got my period"), then the second one surely will ("My doctor says I'm a hypochondriac. How can I be a hypochondriac when I'm sick all the time?"). Then again, what did you expect from the director of "Bachelor Party"? (*1/2)
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6/10
"I hit a casket with a puppet stage. What am I doing here?"
lost-in-limbo5 May 2010
After directing Tom Hanks in the comedy smash "Bachelor Party" the year before, Neal Israel would go to take on the traffic school comedy "Moving Violations" with the same fruity results. While I like "Bachelor Party" better, still it's not taking anything away from it, as it had loads of humorous instances consisting of visual gags and gaudy one-liners from a light-headed script. There are some misfires evident, but it's just too pleasant and how can you pass its catchy soundtrack.

After losing their licenses for repeated offences a group of drivers are sentenced to traffic school and their cars impounded, but their bitter driving instructors (once highly regarded officers) are making sure they won't easily pass.

It's the usual formula, as it has that chaotically nutty vein that flowed through "Police Academy (1984)". Sure it can be dumb and low-brow, but its mishap humour is enjoyably staged. Namely James Keach's uptight shtick as Deputy Halik was a complete hoot and an amusing Nedra Volz's blind as a bat turn as Mrs. Loretta Houk. The cast are committed to their misfit characters and made it more the merrier. A likable John Murray (brother of Bill) chips in with his self-knowing presence, throwing around snappy quips. When Keach and Murray came together is when it livened up. Jennifer Tilly keeps it perky and sincere in a role doesn't really ask a real lot from her. Brian Backer is in a usual dweeb role and a diverting Ned Eisenberg bloodshed happy turn is great (the sequence involving the class watching the tape; Blood flows red on the highway!" shows the slightly disturbing obsession). Which he's tagged obviously as a horror fan (referencing films like "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "Friday the 13th" films). Lisa Hart Carroll is marvellous as the cold-hearted deputy Virginia Morris and her cat-fight with Sally Kellerman's shrewish character is unforgettable. Also there's pleasurable support by Fred Willard, Wendie Jo Sperber, Willard E. Pugh and Nadine Van der Velde. Other familiar stars in nothing more than minor cameos are Don Cheadle and Dedee Pfeiffer.
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Violating the Laws of Good Movie-Making.
tfrizzell30 October 2003
Funny, but completely stupid and near worthless film has a group of oddballs being sentenced to traffic school by a crooked judge (Sally Kellerman). Naturally the teacher of the class ends up being motorcycle cop jerk James Keach (who was the one to ticket most of the miscreants). What no one counted on was trouble-maker John Murray (Bill's real-life younger brother) disrupting Keach and Kellerman's plans to sell confiscated vehicles illegally. Others in the class include Jennifer Tilly (in a very early role), Brian Backer and Fred Willard. Not much substance here stalls "Moving Violations" real quick. The thrill disappears within the first 10 minutes and what we are left with are "Police Academy"-styled routines. Watch for Don Cheadle (of "Traffic" fame) as a worker at a fast food restaurant drive-through window. 2 stars out of 5.
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8/10
One of the best comedies you've never heard of .............
merklekranz6 December 2013
If you would like to wow your friends with a 1980s comedy that they probably have never heard of, then look no further than "Moving Violations". This movie has a cast of pedigreed comedians, including Fred Willard, Jennifer Tilly, and Sally Kerrerman. The lead goes to John Murray, brother of Bill Murray. His performance is far from unique, as it clearly mimics Bill Murray and John Belushi. In fact "Moving Violations" has certain scenes that seem to have been influenced by "Animal House, and "The Blues Brothers". Overlook these minor annoyances and be mesmerized by the rapid fire gags which make time fly by with maximum laughs. If you admire any of the above films or actors, this is a must see. - MERK
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7/10
Very stupid but lots of giggles
helpless_dancer18 February 2004
I loved this silliness which didn't try to pass itself off as anything but a totally goofy spoof. I particularly enjoyed Keach's stiff backed, rule happy[exempting himself, of course]cop intent on breaking a group of citizens' while taking advantage of them. If you like super silly farces having no roots in reality this is the ticket.
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8/10
No violation, except for it's students, in a traffic school of laughs
videorama-759-85939121 August 2014
In a year that saw a trio of Police Academy type movies, here's one underscored comedy that's a potpouri of laughs and that's what makes good comedies. The script has a lot of awesome lines, in a story about a group of delinquent drivers who are assigned back to traffic school (we've all been there) where the two sour tutors cops (one of them James Keach) who Murray gets off on the wrong foot with at the start, just happen to be corrupt. Troublemaker and head delinquent, John Murray is the magic to the film, to be honest with ya, with an average performance. The others are better. I would of liked to see him in other films, though. His reason for getting thrown back into traffic school is a joke, as another repeating student, who hits a coffin with a puppet stage, propelling it into a freshly dug hole. A half blinded old woman creates side splitting laughter at the start ending up an airport tarmac instead of another road, and the hilarity goes on. The series of accidents, that explains their reasons for ending up at traffic school at the start, is formatted the same way as in that other comedy, Stewardess School, which I openly admit, was a bit funnier than this. All these students too have their cars impounded, by the way, where they have to pay a hefty fee, without a certain period or their cars get auctioned off, as quoted by a ruthless female judge, (Kellerman who's secretly doing Keach). What was great about this, when I first saw it and now, was just watching bitter rivals Murray and Keach go at each other. This movie is one of those infectious ones of cheap laughs, that really doesn't it's flavor or humor ratio. If a fan of these type films, this is an 85' one to see, where laughs are constant without. Jennifer Tilly, (Meg's sister0 not big back then, is cute as one of the students, who's scene with Murray in a gravity chamber is unforgettable, as is the last scene, which is I guess a kind of cruel de jav u of bad luck. Funny, funny, fuuuuu-ny.
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8/10
"If I were you, I'd get used to public transportation."
PredragReviews8 May 2016
A simple and funny plot where various people with multiple traffic violations are sentenced to traffic school and have their vehicles impounded until they pass traffic school. They then band together when they uncover a scam by the police officer (James Keach) giving the traffic school course, to sell the impounded vehicles. They have to stop and expose his plot to the authorities. The cast is perfect and captures the great witty but goofy comedy we all love. Fred Willard is as funny as ever in this film - a must see! John Murray's character is a rehash of all characters of the more famous and older sibling Bill, from his previous work in Stripes and Ghostbusters at that time. Absolute best part of this film is the casting of Nedra Volz as Mrs. Hoch. You'll remember Nedra as Adelaide on Different Strokes, and countless 70's and 80's TV shows. You just have to say to people "the little old lady with the bun" and they knew who she was right away. The story of "Moving Violations" is a fun one. They set up a pretty believable situation - drivers sentenced to traffic school. It starts off much better than it finishes. The last couple of sequences (including the lame collision course bit) don't really make an impact or leave things much better. But things end on a happy note as they all get their cars back and moments later, are arrested yet again for moving violations.

Overall rating: 8 out of 10.
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7/10
For the seventh-grader in all of us.
TOMASBBloodhound10 September 2006
Too much fun! Even though this film would seem way too cheesy and juvenile on the surface, there are just too many laughs for it not to be an entertaining experience. From the makers of Police Academy and Bachelor Party, Moving Violations has enough one-liners and sight gags to more than make up for its lack of plot. Though some of the gags make Dumb and Dumber seem like an episode of Frazier, I guarantee you'll be laughing at it in spite of yourself.

The story concerns a group of perennial bad drivers who are sentenced to a strict traffic school in which they have to pass the course or forfeit their cars to the county. The class is run by two bad-ass motorcycle cops played by James Keach and Lisa Hart Carroll. They have their characters down so well, they'll even frighten you. Keach has a scheme going with the judge that sentenced the bad drivers to the course. Their plan is to make the class impossible and somehow split the profits from the impounded vehicles themselves. To detail this plot any further would be a dis-service to not only this review, but the film itself.

John Murray plays the ringleader of the traffic school bunch. He is certainly no Bill Murray, but he's very charismatic and funny. Most of the other students are made up of typically wacky characters you might expect to find in a movie like this. Most of them are thankfully more funny than annoying. The cast is made up of many familiar faces; some of which went on to better things, and some of them just disappeared. Look closely and you'll spot Don Cheadle working at a fast food drive up window for about five seconds! Since there is so little plot, the film must count on sight gags involving cars being destroyed, old people with diminished facilities, bondage, puppet stages rolling down hills and into funeral homes, you name it. Toward the end, there is as one might expect, a climatic chase scene involving parade floats, a group of marathon runners, and about a thousand cops chasing after our heroes while they're on their way to police headquarters to expose the scheme to sell their cars. By this point, you'll be either rolling with laughter or you will have shut the movie off long before then.

Maybe it's not quite a classic, but I'd say it's a cut above Police Academy and somewhere just below Airplane or Top Secret. The odds are you'll find more than a few things to laugh at.

7 of 10 stars.

The Hound.
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10/10
one of my favorite movies of all time!
jaws!18 April 1999
I have been watching Moving Violations since 1986 or 1987. It still is very funny,and one of my favorite movies of all time. I can't tell you how much I love this movie. It's very underrated. The movie is about a a bunch of people that go to traffic school for things they didn't mean to do while driving on the road. The people that go to the traffic school are a bunch of odd balls led by Dana Cannon,he's always throwing wise cracks at the police officers that are the teachers at the traffic school.One of the officers really hates Cannon well they both hate him,but one really hates him. It's just a great movie with very funny scenes. I love this movie and always will. I give this movie **** out of ****
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8/10
Another good laugh view, from the people behind Bachelor Party
PeterMitchell-506-56436417 February 2013
Another Police Academy clone type film, again this one a bag of laughs. A group of different aged dudes, misfits, who've created traffic chaos on our roads, are subjected to traffic school, led by troublemaker Murray, priceless. Some of these dudes, in real life, if creating these offenses, wouldn't end up doing this refresher course, much to the dislike of their hard ass mentor, a great James Keach, Stacey's brother, where him and Murray, go head to head, or one would say in one circumstance, cheek to cheek. Most of the cheek to this one, comes from Murray, a comedy revelation here. All of the actors, bring quite good performances to comedy of this calibre. Murray's minor crime, was while driving his ute, carrying fertilizer, an apple he was chewing on, fell out of his hand, while going over a bump. The cycle cop who pulls him over, suspects the fertilizer of being a white drug substance. When he tastes a dab of it, he wish to hell he didn't, where this circumstance earns Keach a one liner of the word S..t. MV is another film of laughs where Murray and his peers go all out to expose Keach, the worst of enemies and his girl cop, plus a female judge, Kellerman, he's also doing. The kissing scene in the gravity chamber with Murray and Tilly, (who disappeared off our screens after this flick, then came back in the late nineties, in a major f...in' way) is so cool, even their removed clothes get in on the act. The last scene of the film is a rib tickler, if ever I saw one, proving that some people don't belong on the road, but this movie deserves it's time of viewing.
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7/10
Decent comedy from Israel/Proft.
BlackJack_B16 December 2014
Many moons ago I reviewed Bachelor Party and said I hated it, calling it a waste of Tom Hanks' talent. After their success with Police Academy, the Israel/Proft team decided to attempt another one-off comedy called Moving Violations. While it has become a forgotten film, it doesn't deserve that fate. It's an above-average film with a likable cast and a fun premise. Its biggest weakness is having its main characters rip off other actors extensively.

John Murray (brother of Bill) plays Dana Cannon, a man who runs a nursery for plants. He and a number of other people have been ticketed for various driving violations from corrupt Birch County Deputy Hank Halik (James Keach) and forced to go to Traffic School. They later find out that Halik and equally corrupt Judge Nedra Henderson (Sally Kellerman) are running an illegal car selling scheme where they sell the cars of the people who have had their cars impounded for traffic violations. Of course, the headstrong Mr. Cannon isn't going to take this lying down.

Moving Violations, like a lot of 1980's comedies, has an intriguing cast of actors. A mix of one-hit wonders, siblings of major movie actors, T.V. stars and the debut of Don Cheadle make up the cast. John Murray portrays a character similar to his brother mixed with Michael J. Fox and does an excellent job, though it probably hurt his career as an actor because he couldn't come up with an original personality. James Keach's performance reminded me of his brother Stacy's performance as Sgt. Stedenko in Up In Smoke...maybe a little too similar. Jennifer Tilly delivers that sultry voice of hers in one of her early appearances. However, the one who steals the movie from everyone else is Nedra Volz. She plays the blind-as-a-bat Mrs. Loretta Houk who confidently goes about in the world as if she's got 20/20 vision with hilarious results. Seeing her and Clara "Where's the beef?" Peller together in the movie made me mark out. Seeing these senior icons of the 1980's in the same scene? Awesome.

It's an 80's film so get ready for all the trappings of the decade but it's not too bad here. Some good sight gags, funny situations, good writing and an inventive place for lovemaking add up to a pretty good film. Certainly worth a look.
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9/10
John Murray + Traffic School = Tons Of Laughs
buckikris4 September 2014
Warning: Spoilers
The first time I saw this movie I was in 7th grade. I watched it at my cousins house back in 85 on cable. My cousin asked me who does the lead guy remind you of. I said I don't know should I? He looked at me with huge eyes "BILL MURRAY" DUH. It took me awhile, wow he does; John Murray has his moves down to a T. At the time I didn't know Bill Murray had brother's; my bad. This comedy is excellent, a group of repeat traffic offenders sentenced to traffic school, in order to get their license back. Dana Cannon(John Murray) leads this group, to the traffic school from hell. This movie is full of funny scenes, here are some. There is Wink( Ned Eisenberg) who is a horror fanatic/psycho. One of the scenes they have to watch When Blood Spills on The Highway. An older guy who is setting next to Dana is glued to this video. Dana checks his pulse and beats his chest to see if he is O.K.. The older man is fixated to the movie; and it does make you wonder if he's in a coma or worse. When they get out to drive in groups Dana is stuck with Mrs. Houlk, the older lady. When she blows the light and lands on the RR tracks the car stalls. A train is coming and the car won't start. Everybody gets out; and Dana realizes Houlk is still in the car. Dana comes to her aid and the rest follow except Deputy Halik. He is scared straight. The only thing that works is pushing the car off the tracks. Once off the tracks the car gets totaled by a semi. When they all come back they realize Deputy Halik was so scared he wet his pants. This last best laugh is when Judge Henderson(Sally Kellerman) and Deputy Halik are having fun at her place. Dana and Co. cook up a scheme to get the ledger back ;and fix Halik's car so it is so messed up he will not be able to catch them. They get the ledger take it to the chief where Halik and Henderson are arrested. They were going to milk the County and city of money, from the selling of the students vehicles. Dana and crew get their revenge, they all pass the class. No sooner did they get their license back they all get pulled over; and the chief is like OMG. In closing Dana Cannon is sentenced to traffic school 5 more times. The County eventually makes him the instructor out of desperation ; and nobody fails the class under him. This movie is full of laughs from beginning to end. The plot very simple, traffic school, instructors from hell, and a corrupt judge. I recommend it to anyone who loves classic comedies. They just don't make them like this anymore, usually if a Murray is involved you can't go wrong :).

THX, Kris L. CocKayne
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5/10
Not only amusing, this one is funny
There's many "classic" comedies that are not funny but amusing but this one is funny. There is one prophetic line in here though where the main character remarks, "this has put me off sex forever" paraphrased something like that as they're peeping through a window at the badguys doing it, as his love interest nods, and he sort of faces her but doesn't glance at her. You should mean that not even as actors but as people as the key to success and more fun movies. I have to admit the badguy officer, as instructor is actually level headed at points just trying to teach them how to drive. Other "classic" comedies also forget they're comedies and end up with way too much drama, I'm not here for that. They have won the toughest genre, Pass. Looney as heck, without any dramatic schmaltz, but not completely pointless and with some semblance of necessary plot.
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9/10
Funny Film
abbazabakyleman-9883410 October 2020
From the creators of Police Academy and Bachelor Party comes this hilarious and fun romp about a group of delinquent drivers who are sentenced to traffic school run by Hitler-esque police officer Halik (James Keach) and his equally unplesant partner Virginia Morris (Lisa Hart Carroll). The leader of the pack is wise-ass tree nursery owner Dana Cannon (John Murray, yep Bill Murray's younger brother). The group discover that the "school" is actually a car-scrapping front devised by Halik and corrupt judge Nedra Henderson (Sally Kellerman). Because Halik dislikes Cannon in the first place for getting him demoted (he was in line for a promotion), Halik is determined to fail everyone one of them and their cars impounded for good.

Neal Israel (who co-scripted along with Pat Proft) keeps the pace going with plenty of visual gags (one set piece involves a series of falling bowling balls from a car trunk going every which way) and a wacky, climatic car chase through a downtown parade. Ralph Burns supplies a wonderful comedic score and nice cinematography by Robert Elswit. Worth a look.
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Anyone old enough to drive is too old to enjoy this movie.
FeverDog2 August 2003
Ever love a movie when you were a kid, only to revisit it years later and realize it basically sucks? This was the feeling I had last night watching 1985's MOVING VIOLATIONS.

I hadn't seen it in about fifteen years, but have been looking for it for a while. I had the pleasure of recently meeting Brian Backer (he's very handsome in 40s now) and wanted to check out some of his films from his '80s heyday. I've seen FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH countless times, and I wasn't about to rent POLICE ACADEMY 4, so that left MOVING VIOLATIONS.

But I couldn't find it anywhere. It's not on DVD, and my excellent video rental store (which sells any video that hasn't been checked out in two years) didn't carry it any more. I was out of luck. But the movie gods shined down on me, and selected MOVING VIOLATIONS to be shown on the Fox Movie Channel. Excellent! Uncut and without commercials, it'd be a great opportunity to tape the movie off cable. I was jazzed. Sitting down to watch it last night, I was ready to bask in its silly gags and broad acting. But, jeez, what a mess this movie really is.

How could a movie be so funny when you're 12 but so annoyingly stupid when you're pushing 30? The only time I laughed last night was the sequence between the hypochondriac Joan and the "Doctor" Terrence. The dialogue is rife with the classic "Three's Company"-style of humor in which the words being spoken are vague enough to mean one thing to one person but something else to the other. The scene is helped immensely by the skilled comedic timing and delivery of Wendie Jo Sperber and Fred Willard, who respectively play Joan and Doc and know how to make the gag work by staying true to their characters and playing the scene straight. Faintly recalling the exchange from my youth, I was laughing before the scene even started. Good stuff.

But that's about it. The rest of the movie consisted of the type of jokes I hate: When people do things simply for a joke, making the joke unfunny. Take a scene for example near the beginning with diminutive old lady picking her friend up at the airport. The one driving has poor vision, you see, and doesn't know that she's in the wrong car. She gets behind the wheel of the car next to hers by walking past hers. Does poor eyesight also negate accurate judgment of the distance to her own car? Wouldn't she know the width of her car in paces? She couldn't even see that the wrong car is dark blue while hers is beige? If not, how on earth did she drive to the airport unscathed? The scene ends with her driving on the runway with planes all around her, which she thinks are buses. This joke had whiskers back in Mr. Magoo's day, and it illustrates that comedies aren't funny when they're going out of their way trying to be funny. (Another example is when a woman is walking naked around an auto repair shop but no one notices her. It'd be funny if she were spotted by the employees, who then screw up whatever they're doing.) The characters in AIRPLANE play their roles with complete seriousness and never leave the viewer questioning their motivation, which is a big reason why that movie remains a classic.

As for the other characters, another one I still liked was the gorehound who tries to pick up chicks by asking them if which movie's violence they prefer. His reaction to the "Blood Flows Red on the Highway" Driver's Ed movie was priceless. His other decent joke, which cumulates with a string of cars being pushed though a drive-through window, is handicapped by the poor choice of the camera angle for the crucial shot. (Speaking of the camera work, I noticed that director Neal Israel ripped himself off my copying a shot from his previous movie BACHELOR PARTY. Way to go, Neal. Gee, I wonder why you're currently laboring on lesser television shows on the lesser networks. And, yeah, that "Brady Bunch" TV movie last year hasn't appeared to released you from Hollywood Jail, has it?)

Back to the cast. Jennifer Tilly as, yes, a rocket scientist wasn't as good as I remembered, but her bit with her love interest in the anti-gravity chamber was still cute, and the shot with their removed shirts groping each other was one of the few images that my memory had retained over all these years. Whodathunk then Tilly would become a terrific actress with wonderful comedic timing and be nominated for an Oscar?

Which brings me to said love interest, the lead character played by John Murray. If you're wondering if Murray is related to another, more famous (and talented) Murray, his performance leaves no doubt. John approaches his character like a cut-rate Bill Murray impersonator. It's unmistakable, and a little eerie and sad. I wonder if Bill was okay with his brother ripping off his persona, or if it created some rot in the family tree. John later had a role in SCROOGED, but has not worked since, which leaves this question open.

Every dumb comedy has its one-dimensional villains, and MOVING VIOLATIONS is no exception. This time it's James Keach, playing the crooked cop demoted to teach the class. Sneering at every sight of our "hero," Keach's performance is handcuffed by his clichéd character that is aggressively one-note. Keach would the next year play basically the same character in WILDCATS, but that comedy was marginally better and his character was allowed a shade or two of gray. In MOVING VIOLATIONS he was a jerk from beginning to end.

Or maybe not. Seeing this movie at a mature age reveals subtext that before had gone unnoticed. Now I wonder, is his character gay? The evidence: His female partner, whom he's supposedly sleeping with, is so butch other characters call her "sir." And later on, while in bed with his co-conspirator (another female), he's clad in leather chest straps, metal harnesses, and tight leather shorts - the preferred clothing of your average West Village daddy. They're making the usual noises people do when in the throes of passion but both of them still have their underwear on, leading me to assume they're dry humping before he jumps out of the bed in a clearly detumescent state. (During this scene, by the way, the old lady falls on top of them, and they don't even realize it. How am I supposed to be laughing while doubting that two people in bed wouldn't notice a third appearing out of nowhere? This breed of comedy needs to be based in truth to work.)

What's going on here? Am I reading too much into things? I've been known to do so. Anyway, let's jump ahead to the climax. Act 3 ends with a Big Chase, which is the ultimate act of creative desperation from a hack screenwriter. How does a comedy about traffic school degenerate to a mad dash with an incriminating ledger in hand? There's so many things wrong with this sequence that I don't know if I can include them all here. For instance, what's the probability that a city would simultaneously hold a marathon, a parade, and a police convention? How does the Brian Backer character conveniently appear on the scene, running from his girlfriend's father in what appears to be from the suburbs? How does a trooper on a motorcycle expect to catch a fleeing Mercedes by riding slow enough for a corp of deputies on foot to keep pace? And wouldn't the police chief be a) at the convention, and b) less easily accessible in his office to the recently-arrested hero and the mob chasing him?

Should I not consider such questions in a dumb comedy? Probably. I should just shut off my brain, right? I wish I could but I can't. Maybe if the movie were funnier, if more of the jokes worked, if the plot were more focused, I could forgive such a nonsensical ending. But after a while my brain rebelled, and wouldn't let me ignore the inconsistencies and failed humor. Sorry. I should have never returned to MOVING VIOLATIONS, because I'm now wondering what other movies from my childhood wouldn't hold up to near-middle-age scrutiny.
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6/10
Underrated, goofy '80s style romp
MetalGeek25 January 2010
"Moving Violations" came from the same group of producers that brought us such '80s mega-hit comedies as "Police Academy" and "Bachelor Party," though for one reason or another "M.V." didn't achieve the same level of box office success and has been mostly forgotten today. I loved it as a teenager, though. I must've seen this one at least a dozen times on HBO back in the mid-'80s and cracked up every time. I hadn't seen it in a good 20 years at least but when it suddenly turned up on Fox Movie Channel a couple of weeks ago I felt I had to check it out and see how well (or not) it had aged. Surprisingly enough, I still got a decent amount of chuckles from the film. I guess it still appeals to my inner 14 year old. For those who've never seen it, "Moving Violations" is a pretty standard "slobs vs. the snobs" story, with the "slobs" being a group of terrible drivers sentenced to traffic school and "the snobs" being the tight-assed traffic cops in charge of the class and a crooked judge who has her own designs for the impounded vehicles belonging to the students. The cast is made up of an impressive group including John Murray (youngest brother of Bill Murray, in his first and perhaps only leading role), Jennifer Tilly, Fred Willard, the late Wendy Jo Sperber, Brian Backer (of "Fast Times"), James Keach (brother of Stacy Keach and current husband of Jane Seymour) and Sally Kellerman. We even get a cameo by the legendary Clara Peller (a.k.a. the "Where's The Beef?" lady from the then-current Wendy's commercials). How can you NOT want to watch this? John Murray's "Dana" is the ringleader of the wrongfully-sentenced traffic schoolers and he mugs for all he's worth and gets all the best lines as he and his fellow misfits fight back against Keach's Cop From Hell. When these two match wits it's like watching Bugs Bunny (Murray) vs. Elmer Fudd (Keach). OK, so maybe this isn't a great film, but it is a wonderfully silly one. You gotta love a movie that features a puppet-theatre-on-wheels crashing into a funeral home (sending a casket sailing out the window and directly into its grave), a hypochondriac Wendy Jo chugging a bottle of cooking oil, plugging her orifices with Vaseline and going for a jog, and the sight of Sally Kellerman running down the street in bondage gear (meow!). Oh, and this movie has the single best line of dialogue ever in Hollywood history, when Fred Willard tells a confused Sperber, "We even have some celebrity clients... why, just last week I completely reamed out Roger Moore. He was totally satisfied, in fact he's coming back next week for a full rear-end job."

I would rather sit through "Moving Violations" again than any of the "Police Academy" sequels, and I wonder why John Murray never starred in another movie, as he was hilarious throughout this one and seemed to be heading in the same direction as his brother Bill. Perhaps this wasn't the right "vehicle" (pun not intended) for him? Either way, "Moving Violations" is an unjustly forgotten slice of goofball '80s comedy. They really don't make'em like this anymore.
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8/10
Funny and entertaining film from the best decade...the 80's!
whammy66628 February 2005
This is much better than Police Academy...I find it a LOT funnier. Now my sister wathed this over and over and over again, got me sick of it however it IS a very FUNNY film. The characters are completely unforgettable. Dana Cannon, a wise, smart cool guy. Loretta an annoying blind old lady. Other characters include: a hypochondriac, a puppeteer, a crazy girl, a rocket scientist and much more. THese characters combined make one funny film. And lets not forget this awesome police force I wish I had. The jokes are still funny today, it is something anyone with a fairly good sense of humor can laugh at. DOn't expect a stong storyline, or message or anything like that...basic mindless fun. Get some popcorn and enjoy!
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