Outposters, welcome back to Film Club. This week, Cannonball Run won and there was some controversy about the number of votes it received but we’ll address that at the end. For now, let’s have a squizz at the reviews.
Wow, 191 votes. That makes The Cannonball Run probably the most popular movie ever talked about on this site besides StarTrekWars (groooooooaaaaan). Just kidding nerds, take it easy. That said, it’s been controversial, to say the least. In the comments and behind the scenes among the staff. I blame the voters. The hoi polloi, especially the female ones, never know what’s best for them.
Anyway… since the movie apparently is more popular than The Beatles, I thought instead of us just doing reviews about it, I would offer up something different this week. Something from a real pro, and friend of Last Movie Outpost, our old pal Cecil at GoodBadFlicks.
Now all 191 of you Dom Deluise lovers can take a deep, deep dive into the film you love.
When I was young, The Cannonball Run had everything. A Lamborghini. The Bandit back on the road. Farah Fawcett. Jackie Chan. Adrienne Barbeau’s boobs. Captain Chaos. James Bond. A Greek Orthodox guy pretending to be an Arab. Miss Tessmacher in a police uniform. Cars. Lots and lots of cars.
It was like catnip to a seven-year-old me. The trouble is that when you revisit it today, you realize maybe it should have stayed in the past. It is, to be brutally honest, not good. It is also a complete mess.
Smokey And The Bandit director Hal Needham was just one year away from Megaforce and we should have heeded the warning. The only thing you can say with certainty about his career is that Smokey And The Bandit was a fluke, and benefitted from timing. This movie is nothing more than a loosely connected series of vignettes that seems just to be a great big party for the cast and crew, who are in on the joke, and the rest of us aren’t invited if we want something like quality from our movies, or even a script.
The lead character doesn’t help it, Burt Reynolds’ JJ, being perhaps the single most unlikeable headliner ever put to film. He’s a trash human and treats everybody like shit, yet everyone fawns over him like a hero. The disconnect is jarring. It even manages to make two members of the Rat Pack unlikeable, too!
One thing that sticks in my mind from when this movie was released is the type of person who wasn’t a child but was still a big fan of The Cannonball Run. Just a couple of years before, they would have fitted a CB radio to their saloon car, insisted their friends call them by their newly adopted “handle”, and had Convoy by C.W. McCall on rotation on cassette tape.
It’s all a bit tragic and embarrassing really, like this movie.
Cannonball Run is a movie in the barest sense of the word. It is an excuse to get a bunch of actors together to split a pot of money. In return, they act silly, follow a script that is a more loose suggestion than a roadmap, and drive around in cars that zoom real good. Some charm exists in the simplicity of it all, but it is pretty clear that no one particularly cares. This movie is about study hall on a Friday afternoon. I got a contact buzz from the smell of gin wafting off Dean Martin through a TV screen and forty years later I can only imagine what a professional like Jackie Chan thought of all of this. On the other hand, Jack Elam shooting a syringe into his mouth is pure cinema.
Something like Cannonball Run is basically review-proof. You’re either along for the ride or you aren’t. What is there to critique? The emotional range of Burt Reynolds’s giggles? The cinematography of the Hills of Bearbeau? The plot of gas pedals? This is live-action Looney Tunes. The best thing to do is give it a rating straight down the middle and let viewers take the high road or the low road themselves.
Well, I only recommended this movie because I’d just watched Used Cars and I loved the bombastic, carefree attitude of the 80s. The grand finale of watching a billion cars heading off to try and save the day regardless of the repercussions and not giving monkeys about who stood in their way whetted my appetite for more 80s capers.
Anyway, Cannonball Run won so I stepped up to watch this classic that I hadn’t seen since I was a wee lad, and oh boy, what a great time I had! The cast is something to behold and very likely something we are unlikely to see such a group of A-listers assembled again soon. Burt Reynolds leads the pack accompanied by legends such as Dom DeLuise, Jackie Chan, Roger Moore, Farrah Fawcett, Dean Martin, Peter Fonda, and Sammy Davis Jr. to name but a million!
Cannonball Run is ridiculous and equally fan-fucking-tastic at the same time. It’s a movie of its time and one we can only hope will come back again soon. It’s got alcoholism, smoking, schizophrenia, boobs, “racism”, and fighting. Jokes about the police and religion and everything else that the good old days gave us. And the best thing about it is that everyone looked like they were having an absolute blast while filming.
This movie looks like they just threw everything at it and see what worked, it’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but it’s some good old-fashioned escapism that once again leaves you longing for the 80s.
That’s All Folks
And with that, Cannon Run brings an end to Film Club. It’s been fun and personally speaking, I’ve watched movies that I wasn’t even aware existed, so thank you Outposters! I have also accumulated a list of movies to watch in the coming weeks that I’ve never seen before so maybe expect some Retro Reviews in the near future. Thanks again everyone, we hope you enjoyed the ride.
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