The Adventures of Ford Fairlane [Retro Review]

“I’m so terrifical, I even had my own toll-free number: 1-800-UNBELIEVABLE.”

The Scoop: 1990 R directed by Renny Harlin and starring Andrew Dice Clay, Wayne Newton, Lauren Holly and Robert England

Tagline: Kojak. Columbo. Dirty Harry. Wimps.

Summary Capsule: A rock and roll detective goes up against Wayne Newton, a dead koala bear, and the dumbest blonde alive to solve his case.

Justin’s Rating: These cigs better not be menthol…

Justin’s Review: I never thought I’d find a movie in the same vein as Hudson Hawk, but, to the shock of my insulin-overdosed system, I have! Presenting The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, starring Andrew Dice Clay as a very outrageous, sexist, smoking kinda guy with hair that would make Ace Ventura jealous.

I was drawn to this movie by its (in)famous one-liners, most of which are pulled from Ford’s ever-present narration. This guy’s no saint. He’s a crude sonuvagun who smokes like there’s no tomorrow, treats women like disposable odor-eaters, and has a really annoying Brooklin-like “Ho!” that he zings on to the end of sentences. That being, he’s freakin’ hilarious. It’s like they took Elvis Presley from the 50’s, overloaded him with testosterone, and put him in a movie where nothing is sacred, not even koala bears. Ford Fairlane might be a shoe-in for a classic cult film if you can ignore the thick blanket of sexism that’s thrown over this flick.

You think you’ve seen dumb blondes? You haven’t — meet Zuzu Petals. You think you’ve seen car chases in a cemetery at night during a rock ‘n roll funeral involving a rolling body, two hearses, and automatic machine gun fire? Well, buddy, this one takes the cake. Roles by Ed O’Neill as the insecure police jerk and Robert Englund as a seriously disturbed baddy are precious. And I will heartily endorse any film where Wayne Newton gets the shaft. See it, smoke it, live it.

Although I do wish to throw in a disclaimer: this movie is much harsher in language than Hudson Hawk. The F-word abounds and several sexual innuendos fly like those bugs that hit your windshield on a very long road trip. Just a warning.


  •     The list of bands from Grendel’s bogus “Fred’s Condom Factory” company is: Ellen Aim and the Attackers, Brain of the Scarecrow, Alba Varden, Heather, Corey, Heather Cory and Young, Todd Times Two, Black Plague, 5000 Schizophrenics, Hot Tub Johnny and his Feline Friends, Hamma Waters Sings the Blues, Nine Sisters, Horses on Fire, The Silver Belles, Fred and Ethyl, The Professor and Mary-Ann, The Nakatomi Boys Choir,The Doctor Bellows Funk Machine
  • Maddy Corman’s character is named “Zuzu Petals”, a reference to It’s a Wonderful Life. In that movie, George Bailey’s daughter, Zuzu, had brought home a flower she had gotten at school. She show’s it to her father, and complains that some of the petals are falling off. He puts these in his pocket. Later, when he “has never been born”, he reaches into his pocket, and Clarence, the Angel, says, “They’re not there.” “What?” asks George “Zuzu’s petals.”
  • Okay, so while I compare this film to Hudson Hawk (the two are remarkable in their style and off-beat humor), there are a couple points to… point out. Fairlane came out a year before the ill-fated Hawk did, and made $21 million to Hawk’s $13. It’s an odd, odd world.
  • After many letters of protest from classic-car enthusiasts, the film’s production company said that an actual ’57 Ford Fairlane was not blown up in the explosion; it was a fiberglass replica body placed on a newer Ford chassis.

Groovy Quotes:

Jazz: Well, that weekend was a mistake!
Ford Fairlane: Hey, look. I’m sorry I made you clean the toilets and the bathtubs, I mean, who did all the work in bed?

Ford Fairlane: You’re 10 seconds away from the most embarrassing moment in your life!

Ford Fairlane: I’m so terrifical, I even had my own toll-free number: 1-800-UNBELIEVABLE.

Ford Fairlane: Johnny was the only guy who could out-disgust me. When we were kids we had gross-out contests. I coughed a pile of phlegm on a table, he said “Nice try!” and pulled out a straw…

Ford Fairlane: Have a twinkie, snapperhead!

Ford Fairlane: Come on, down boy. Down Stanley. Roseanne Barr naked. Gone!

Ford Fairlane: [to women running from his bed] Do my dishes!

Lt. Amos: You think you are so hot ‘cos you get in all the clubs, heh? Just because you have sex with great looking women…
Ford Fairlane: You got to admit those are pretty good reasons…

Ford Fairlane: Some people play hard to get. I play hard to want.

Lt. Amos: See, that’s the difference between a great investigator like me, and a piece of spam like you.
Ford Fairlane: Spam? You’re a piece of spam. That’s what I think of you.
Lt. Amos: No, I call you a piece of spam, ‘cos that’s what you are.
Ford Fairlane: Spam!

Ford Fairlane: Conversation with Zuzu Petals was like masturbating with a cheese grater: slightly amusing, but mostly

Ford Fairlane: I could’ve been a rock singer, if only I hadn’t been banned from MTV. Long story. But anyway, I only know that one song. Well, I do a mean “Puff the Magic Dragon,” but only in the nude. Longer story.

If you liked this movie, try these:

  • Hudson Hawk
  • Pretty In Pink
  • Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid


  1. When I saw this movie years ago, it left me feeling blah and rather unpleasantly fuzzy. Hmm. Does that make it count as a stoner film? Anyways, having read “You think you’ve seen car chases in a cemetery at night during a rock ‘n roll funeral involving a rolling body, two hearses, and automatic machine gun fire?” just now, I have decided that I MUST rewatch it.
    Plus, I would definitely check out any band named Black Plague.

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