Directed by: Adam Collis
Starring: Octavia Spencer, George Lopez, Patrick J. Adams, Nia Vardalos, Chris Mulkey, Alessandra Torresani, Josh Hopkins and Wendy Crawford
Run Time: 1H, 44mins
Genre: Comedy, Drama
3 Frames out of 5
By Shari K. Green
Most of us have been through buying a car, am I right? What works so well about Car Dogs is the writer, Mark Edward King, used to work in a dealership and used his knowledge of the process and of what salesman do behind the scenes, to make the story more believable and more compelling. In Car Dogs, Malcolm, the dictatorial business owner of the car dealership which employees his son, Mark, takes advantage of him and his other employees by expecting them to do “Whatever It Takes” to meet a certain number of car sales by end of day, all to make himself look good as he closes a deal behind the scenes. He has promised Mark the next dealership and works him hard with very little reward. There’s a powerful struggle going on between father and son which at times gets very intense. Malcolm often pulls other salesmen into the situation which proves he’s even more ruthless than Mark ever thought. Mark is currently the sales manager at Chamberlain Auto but can Mark meet the demands of his father to get the prize he so deeply covets, the prize of having a dealership of his own? Will his ambitions lead him to delude his team and possibly cheat buyers who walk in, making him become more and more like his father? With his marriage on the rocks, he doesn’t have a lot of time to look for the answers to these questions.
Mark is played beautifully by Patrick Adams and Chris Mulkey is a very frightening Malcolm. Similar to the theme of Glengarry Glen Ross, the film gives us a rare glimpse at what happens behind the salesroom floor and from what I learned by interviewing director, Adam Collis, the sales motto of doing whatever it takes to sell a car makes me question whether or not to buy one at a dealership again. You will feel sorry for Mark to a degree as he tries to balance work life with home life but the film more focuses on the goings on in the store. It’s an exciting and often miserable place to be and looking back on it, it’s surprising we’re only seeing one day of it. Other characters, played by Octavia Spencer, George Lopez, and Nia Vardalos, move in and out during the film (not to mention all the local Arizona talent the filmmaker used), and they top off the story. One Local actor, in particular, Drew Moore, was hysterical as a buyer who wasn’t going to be taken advantage of. Some tricks of the trade are revealed by how the salesmen approach a difficult sale, but he was walking out of that dealership with a good deal and anything else he could get his hands on.
Outside of Moore, many other local actors provided depth to the narrative as the clock moves closer to closing time. Quick cuts and fast talking keep you in the story but it’s a treat watching Adams and Mulkey. They nail their characters as they spar, however, the real meat of the story is Mark. You’ll appreciate the closing shot when you see the boy become a man. His wife feels he’s choosing the store over their marriage. Is he and if he is, what can he do to change the situation? Watch Car Dogs at your nearest Harkins Theater, today, and let me know what you think he’s willing to do.