1984-A-Thon…Cannonball Run 2 Review


Westbound and Down…(Full Disclosure: I love both Director Hal Needham and Mr. Burt Reynolds). That said, “Cannonball Run 2” has to be one of the worst films of 1984 and most likely is responsible for destroying the careers of both Needham and Reynolds, two Hollywood power players responsible for the surprise hit “Smokey and the Bandit” and its highly lucrative sequel. I actually enjoyed 1981’s “Cannonball Run,” which was another big success in an industry where money is king and all else comes in second place, I just don’t understand what the hell anyone was thinking when they made this disaster. The biggest problem with C2 is that it is painfully unfunny and a pure mess in every possible way. On the surface C2 is essentially the same film as part one, and oddly enough, the film has even more star power than the first film. The original Rat Pack is even on board, sans Peter Lawford who passed away the year the film was made, probably his best ever career move. Yet even with Sinatra, Martin, Davis Jr., Shirley McLaine, Telly Savalas, Jackie Chan and dozens of other stars, the film falls flat. None of the sequences or set ups make any sense whatsoever. Burt Reynolds swaps his ambulance for a stupid, stupid, STUPID looking Army staff car, meanwhile wearing a General’s uniform that even a toddler would recognize as ridiculous, and he and Dom Deluise are supposed to zip across the country in this car to win the race which makes no sense. In any real world they would take a plane across country for crying out loud! This tone-deaf massacre goes nowhere but downhill from there. MacLain returns to fake nunnery gear ala’ “Two Mules For Sister Sara” but here to zero effect. Jamie Farr, horrible as usual, reprises his insanely racist sheik character who can supposedly buy his way into and out of anything except actually winning the Cannonball race, and adds nothing even remotely entertaining. Even sadder, Tony Danza and Bobby Berosini’s Orangutan (look it up), our eventual winners, repeat the same tired routine already done to effect in “Every Which Way Loose” with Clint Eastwood, that is, the Oragutan flips the middle finger a lot and kisses whoever he wants. Snooze. The ultimate low in a film full of valleys, is Charles Nelson Reilly as DonDon something who runs a brothel or something and Doug McClure who shows up and gets slapped a lot and Telly Savalas who wants something from Reilly but who knows or cares? There is some cross dressing and it is all just terrible and unfunny. Sadly, this is Sinatra’s last film, he is asleep at the wheel and someone (maybe his manservant Jilly Rizzo, who actually appears as well) should have steered him clear of this debacle. Don’t even get me started with poor Dom DeLouise and Captain Chaos…Just…no. Needham’s career, so promising after “Smokey” and “Hooper” could never regain footing after this crapfest and the even worse “Megaforce.” He made a few films later, but focused on other projects (The Shotmaker) and never made another film of any importance or interest ever again. Burt Reynolds was the biggest casualty. He was never a film headliner again. He had some success on television in “Evening Shade” but only ever had one more important film role: in the terrific “Boogie Nights” but even then he lost a deserved Oscar and few decent roles followed. Ultimately, this movie destroyed the good-old-boy American road comedy film. A venerable formula for so many years, “Cannonball Run 2” is the black widow that left a pileup of diminished careers in its wake…