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Fox Home Entertainment presents
Mother, Jugs and Speed (1976)

"My name is Jennifer, and headlights are found on automobiles."
- Jennifer (Raquel Welch)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: March 16, 2004

Stars: Raquel Welch, Bill Cosby, Harvey Keitel
Other Stars: Allen Garfield, Bruce Davison, Dick Butkus, L.Q. Jones, Larry Hagman, Toni Basil, Valerie Curtin
Director: Peter Yates

Manufacturer: PDMC
MPAA Rating: PG for (language and violence)
Run Time: 01h:38m:41s
Release Date: March 09, 2004
UPC: 024543114925
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Director Peter Yates is probably best remembered for some of his more timeless efforts, like the groundbreaking car chase from the classic Bullitt, the bicylce-riding-as-life metaphors of Breaking Away, or even capturing the awe-inspiring splendor of Jacqueline Bisset's memorable wet t-shirt in The Deep. One of his least enduring works is this message-heavy 1976 comedy featuring the so-bizarre-it-almost-works casting of Harvey Keitel, Bill Cosby, Raquel Welch, and Larry Hagman (here playing a lecherous ambulance driver who at one point sexually assaults a drug-addled patient) in another of the era's endlessly chattering social/political comedies that have lost not just their luster, but their relevance.

Comedy doesn't always age well, and Mother, Jugs and Speed could be a poster child for time capsule social commentary humor that has been incessantly lapped over the preceding 25+ years by everything from sitcoms to commercials to music videos. Yates tells the story of a struggling private ambulance company in Los Angeles, run by the politically incorrect Mr. Fishbine (Alan Garfield), and his crew of wacky, one-note drivers who spend most of the film hauling their siren-wailing asses to beat out the competition for the coveted $42.50 fare to the hospital. Mother (Bill Cosby) is the de facto leader of the group, a smooth-talking, laid-back, drinking-and-driving free spirit, who is forced to team up with suspended cop Tony, aka Speed (a baby-faced Harvey Keitel), a new ambulance driver who is inadvertently wooing solidly proportioned and self-assured receptionist Jennifer, aka Jugs (Raquel Welch).

This collective triumvirate of the three title characters, all with their clever nicknames, should seem like a logical expectation, plot-wise, just based on the name of the film, but it meanders so slow that it takes an interminable amount of time for the three to actually come together in any kind of alignment. Instead of getting all three principals together quicker, and building the film on their interactions, Yates instead allows a number of side stories (including the deaths of a couple of pivotal secondary characters) to take precedence, and he relies on the quirky, sad drama/comedy of the various calls made by the ambulance crew to carry the flow of the comedy. It is the old chestnut of the underlings bucking the system and outsmarting their superiors, something that M*A*S*H (both the film and television series) did so effortlessly, and with more hard-hitting irreverence.

There are just too many colliding styles in Mother, Jugs and Speed that prevent this from coming across like anything more than a ham-handed mishmash, rather than just one mediocre one. Three Stooges slapstick, hokey romance, car chases, societal jabs, and sudden violence all flood together under Yates' hand, and the tone is so unbalanced that I never felt any kind of cohesion from one adventure to another. Keitel's tough guy romancing Welch is probably one of the lamest, unpolished parts of the entire film, and it relies on one of Hollywood's tiredest plot contrivances, which is where one character finds another character (in Los Angeles, no less) simply by walking down a street and looking in a restaurant window.

As a comedy, any laughs that were here in 1976 have evaporated.

Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: D


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Kudos to Fox on the clean 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, and the presentation here is a fairly good one, considering the film's age. The print itself is devoid of any significant flaws or blemishes, and no noticeable edge enhancement was evident. Colors remain consistent, though it does suffer from that unnatural mid-'70s hue that tends to strip any real depth out of the color palette.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoFrench, Spanishyes
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Audio is presented in 2.0 Dolby stereo, and if I was a betting man I would say that I could call this mono and not be called a liar. The lack of fidelity turns any dialogue uttered over a whisper into a crackly mess, and scenes like the prolonged ambulance chase are nothing short of excruciating, like having 10" needles jammed into your ear canal.

French and Spanish mono tracks are also included.

Audio Transfer Grade: C


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 32 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
2 Original Trailer(s)
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring Bandolero!, Myra Breckinridge, One Million Years B.C., Fathom, Fantastic Voyage
1 TV Spots/Teasers
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Hope you like trailers, because that's all that's here (including a Spanish teaser for the feature).

The disc is cut into 32 chapters, and features subtitles in English and Spanish.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

Back in the days when comedy had to have some kind of societal meaning, Mother, Jugs and Speed attempted to stick it to the man. In the decades following its initial release, the uneven humor has become less tolerable, and the pacing treacherously slow.

The extremely curious may find Toni ("Mickey") Basil as a shotgun-toting druggie worth a peek, but age (that great equalizer) has not been kind to this one.


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