Saturday, February 21, 2015

Movie review -"The Cannonball Run" (1981) **1/2

Dopey early 80s car racing movie which I remember loving as a kid. It hasn't aged that well but it maintains a genuine good natured air of mischief and fun - you do feel everyone who worked on it got along, and just wanted to have a good time. It presumably helped everyone would have gotten paid a decent amount of money and Burt Reynolds and Hal Needham were friends.

The chief appeal of this is the cast - Burt Reynolds as the nominal hero (a relaxed and self-kiddying performance), and Dom de Luise as his sidekick (who turns into Captain Chaos, which is fun); Farrah Fawcett as the girl who gets dragged along (I always liked her theme song in this); Jack Elam as a crazy doctor; Roger Moore poking fun of his James Bond image (which he kind of did anyway playing James Bond but still entertaining); Jamie Farr playing up the stereotypes as an Arab; ditto Jackie Chan as a technology obsessed Asian; Burt Convy as a tycoon competing for fun doing a wheelie most of the way (this always cracked me up); Tara Buckman and Adrienne Barbeau as a female driver with massive boobs (at least she's allowed to win); Peter Fonda as the head of some bikies, the third act villains (how is that for times are a changin'); Dean Martin and Sammy David Jnr hilarious as priests.

The movie is ramshackle and silly but it works (despite the fact there's actually not that much driving). It has a spirit that is hard to repeat though - so when they did for Cannonball Run II (and also Stroker Ace) it didn't work. (Maybe a crucial element was also Brock Yates, who wrote this - he's a car journalist and added a lot of verisimilitude).

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