Abe Vigoda, Alex Rocco, Burt Reynolds, Catherine Bach, Charles Nelson Reilly, Dean Martin, Dom DeLuise, Hal Needham, Henry Silva, Jackie Chan, Jim Nabors, Marilu Henner, Mel Tillis, Richard Kiel, Sammy Davis Jr., Shirley MacLaine, some driving orangutan, Telly Savalas, Tony Danza
Erin: Cannonball Run 2 is one of those awful movies I loved as a child because I had no idea that it was not a good movie. It was playing on HBO every day at 10, 2, and 6, how bad could it be? Although you could argue that, seeing as how I was ten years old by the time Cannonball Run 2 played on cable, I should have known better, the fact is that I grew up in a town that didn’t get a movie theater until 1988. So whatever was playing nonstop on cable was a blockbuster to my dumb small town ass. I actually didn’t realize just how stupid a movie this is until I watched it with Dan last week. As it turned out, literally the only elements of the movie I remembered were Abe Vigoda landing a helicopter equipped with a big magnet on Jamie Farr’s car, and Dom DeLuise saying “Fricken chickasee. Chicken fricasee.” I wish I could say that I remembered Jackie Chan’s involvement, but I wasn’t that cool.
Supposedly about a cross-country race, Cannonball Run 2 is actually both an excuse for a bunch of friends to get together and make an ensemble comedy, and a two hour setup for a punchline that isn’t fucking funny. Burt Reynolds stars as a cowardly daredevil who decides that he’d rather drive in this race than keep on doing his current job as a stunt flyer. DeLuise is his sidekick. For some reason they pretend to be in the army, which gives them the opportunity to pick up Jim Nabors along the way for a little while. Nabors’s character’s name rhymes with Gomer Pyle, natch. Before that, though, they pick up Shirley MacLaine and the hot redhead from Taxi, who are pretending to be nuns because they want a ride to New York. Because that makes all kinds of sense. No one is mad when all the pretending is found out, because everyone has the promise of sex. Even if it has to be with Don DeLuise. Oh, and Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin pretend to be priests, and Frank Sinatra hops into the race at the end in a Dodge Daytona, which was very disappointing to me. Frank Sinatra could have been driving something cooler than a dang Dodge Daytona, like a Fiero! Even Reynolds, the Bandit himself, spends the race in some kind of big old stupid slow Chrysler sedan. Everyone’s character seems to be a reference to some other, better role they played.
But Erin, aren’t you supposed to be writing a synopsis? OK. The actual “plot” is that Jamie Farr is a sheik whose dad is about to cut him off if he doesn’t win this race, which their country is bankrolling, and a bunch of guys who were literally the cast of The Godfather are trying to kidnap Farr with the help of everyone’s favorite tough guy Charles Nelson Reilly. In this film’s defense, I did get pretty fired up during this most recent viewing whenever Jackie Chan started kicking people, but that’s just because there’s nothing else going for Cannonball Run 2, and Jackie Chan in 1984 was pretty sexy.
Dan: Well shoot, I don’t think there’s anything else to say. *packs it in*
I keed. I only remembered bits and pieces of this film, like the orangutan that pretends to drive Tony Danza and Mel Tillis and Jackie Chan and Richard “Jaws” Kiel driving a Mitsubishi that could go underwater. Man I wanted one of those cars, at least until I realize that I ran out of gas underwater and can’t swim.
This movie is a hot mess. A fun mess, yes, but a hot one nonetheless. I know it’s stupid to complain about the plot in a Burt Reynolds/Hal Needham get together car chase movie, but couldn’t you make the actual winner of the race more than an afterthought (Spoiler, I think Danza, Tillis, and Right Turn Clyde wins it)? Although I did enjoy seeing Burt look like a scared fool for half of this movie.
Erin: I don’t even know if Tony Danza and Mel Tillis were still in the car, but I know the orangutan won. And that part, the race, you know, the focus of the film? It was extra stupid because the whole film only made it to a whorehouse outside Vegas, and then bam, suddenly they’re in New York and the ape won. For a 108 minute movie about a race, there is very little about any progress or actual competition. I mean, there are people pulling dirty tricks, but that’s it. I don’t know why I bother complaining, because this is just a series of jokes strung together, but I would have liked to have seen a cross country race actually taking place across the country. I mean, in 108 minutes, they had time. I bet the movie was even longer to begin with, though, before it was edited. I bet they didn’t even have to go out and film most of it; I bet Burt Reynolds’s fiery hot ego just burned the scenes directly onto the film like some mustachioed Sadako from The Ring.
I did like the running joke that only Richard Kiel and Dom DeLuise could understand Jackie when he spoke Chinese, though, and it’s always a positive thing when a movie features a theme song with lyrics about the movie. Bonus points if the chorus of the song is the title of the movie! But it’s safe to say that Cannonball Run 2 is no longer one of my favorite “let’s go on a wacky road trip” movies. Honky Tonk Freeway, another 80s cable hit, is still safe in my heart, though. What’s your favorite road movie, Dan?
Dan: I’m still trying to get the image of Burt Reynolds crawling out of a Trans Am out of my head. I bet this movie was like 12 hours long, with many different stops and adventures for Burt, Dom, and the gang. But no, we got stuck with a lame kidnapping plot that was only there so we could see Burt, Dom and Sammy Davis Junior play the ugliest women imaginable. Well maybe not Sammy…he was kinda cute.
There were some things I liked about this movie though, and two very good reasons belong on Catherine Bach. Hey, any young boy in the early eighties who didn’t have a crush on Daisy Duke…probably had a crush on Bo or Luke. That’s OK, as long as it wasn’t Boss Hogg. Then I’d worry about you. I also liked that they cast the gangsters with guys like Alex Rocco, Abe Vigoda, that one dude from Godfather 2 who turns traitor (not Fredo), and everyone’s favorite low rent gangster name, Henry Silva.
As for your question, I’d probably would have to say Smokey and the Bandit 2. Why part 2? Well because of the elephant, duh.