Movie Review:
cadillac man (1990)

cadillac man (1990)

TITLE: Cadillac Man

RELEASE DATE: May 18, 1990




Joey O'Brien, a fast-talking, charming car salesman is having both personal and professional troubles. He is dealing with multiple ex-wives, girlfriends, an upset daughter, and a sales quota he must reach to keep his job.

Just when things seem to reach their breaking point, an armed and desperate husband crashes into the dealership, taking everybody hostage. Joey must now use his exceptional negotiation skills to keep everyone calm and manage to survive this chaos.


Let’s start with capitalism and consumerist society. Success is measured by money, things we own, economic status, the youth and beauty of the women men are having affairs with, what car you drive, etc. Never mind that Joey is constantly in debt, his hookups are causing him more money woes, and he’s about to lose his job… it’s all about image, baby! His lifestyle is unsustainable and unhealthy. But it’s the only way for him to feel like he’s a man (as evidenced by his conversation with Larry). Larry, in turn, feels betrayed by his wife. He feels powerless, angry, and emasculated.

This alienation and frustration is representative not just of one man at a time, but of society as a whole. Larry’s anger leads to him resorting to violence, as humans often do when they see no other answer. But it comes back to that alienation, isolation, loneliness, and anger. Joey is also feeling these things and relies on his material possessions and his hook-ups to fill the voids.  The reason the ending where he probably reunites with his ex-wife works so well is that we see his hook-ups were a result of the loneliness he feels without her. With the need met, Joey no longer needs other women. His newfound friendship with Larry also adds to the healing of his feelings of being alone. This leads us to my next point, as this film basically teaches us that communication and empathy are the the only way to overcome loneliness and alienation.

The role of communication and empathy in resolving conflicts is shown through Larry and Joey’s relationship, but it also comes through with each of the other relationships, whether it’s the girlfriends, the wives, their husbands, even Joey’s relationship with his daughter Lisa. Opening these lines of communication, trust, and empathy allows everyone in this film to heal. The film suggests that discussion and compassion are more effective than force, violence, and arguing.


Robin’s performance. Fast-talking, manipulative, womanizing, but you understand the charm that gets him what he wants.  

Tim Robbins as unhinged Larry. The chemistry between them.


The women were way undervalued and could’ve been explored as people more. I know that’s part of the times or whatever, but I’m watching it today and knowing it could’ve been a better movie with more spent on the side characters.


“You got a lot of girls. It’s easy for you?”

“It ain’t easy. It’s never easy.”

Tina yelling at Larry about how Joey needs to be out looking for his daughter. LOL And the Joey’s mom talking to him. Fantastic.


This is another role that feels made for Robin. The longer I watch his movies, the more I see an almost cohesive thread examining real humans with real flaws who also want to (for the most part) be better men.


This was movie 10/59.  We still have a long way to go. :)