Car Wash uses gritty humor to polish clean the souls of a lot of likeable street people.
The setting is Sully Boyar’s downtown car wash, where the colorful ethnic crew contends as much with oddball customers as with themselves.
Perhaps the best known of the players is Richard Pryor, shining it on as a fancy-dressed preacher, complete with flashy car and retinue that includes The Pointer Sisters. Pryor’s license plate spells out ‘tithe’, a sure evocation of the real-life character he suggests.
Woven into the main proceedings is the lonely sidewalk vigil of a streetwalker, Lauren Jones, which, combined with Bill Duke’s equally sensitive portrayal of a frightened black militant, keeps the film in fine balance of humanism.