Smokey and the Bandit - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Smokey and the Bandit Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ June 24, 2015
Twas this movie that helped along the creation of the popular cult TV show 'The Dukes of Hazzard'. Not solely of course, but these fast drivin' Southern cowboys really grabbed the public's attention back in the late 70's. In an odd way, now I think about it, this franchise could well be looked upon as the 'Fast and the Furious' of its day. A lot of the interest here focuses on the automobiles, well the Pontiac Trans Am, but if you have a thing for big American rigs then you'll enjoy this too.

The premise goes like this, two mega rich Texan cowboys want a driver to smuggle a load of Coors Beer from Texas (in the west), to Georgia (in the east), within a set time limit. No particular reason for this challenge I might add, this millionaire father and son duo merely want to see if a driver can succeed in the bet, for fun, because...reasons, don't question it. The snag is, Coors Beer was not allowed to be sold east of the Mississippi River, because...I don't know. The beer was also supposedly one of the finest beers in the USA at the time, but I still have no idea why it couldn't be sold in the east. So the Bandit steps up to the challenge with his sidekick the Snowman, they gotta collect the merchandise and haul it back east, if they manage it they stand to win $80,000!

Directed by Hal Needham and the first of his movies to feature fast cars and Burt Reynolds. Back in the late 70's, early 80's there was a definite splurge of these goofy fast car comedies, very loose plots about getting from A to B in a variety of vehicles, lots of slapstick, tomfoolery and sexy ladies. These movies were pure male fodder, for young lads, petrol heads and showboaters, Reynolds was (at the time) the epitome of the cool ladies man, not necessarily big and strong but rebellious, dashing and cocky, Errol Flynn in a fast car. In this movie we see him at his peak, the tash is dark and bushy, the attire is the stereotypical southern bar-hopping US cowboy, he's laid back but also on the ball, he smokes and he drives a slick black all American Pontiac Trans Am. Its like they made the Marlboro Man the main character...but in a fast car.

Everything about this movie is all American and that's what made it so popular around the world I believe, it was an insight into (southern) American life which many people (outside the US) had never seen before. The Bandit and his partner, one driving a badass muscle car and the other driving a typical all American big rig, tearing across the southern States with the law on their tail. Despite the fact this duo are breaking the law they are made out to be the good guys, Robin Hood types, just'a good ol' boys.

On the flip side you have the police which seems to consist of two people, the fat loud Buford T. Justice played by Jackie Gleason, and Junior Justice played by Mike Henry. Its quite clear to see the similarity between these two characters and the law enforcers of Hazzard County, especially the simple Junior Justice. However the whole angle for these two seems a bit far fetched, they are merely after the Bandit because he picked up Carrie (Sally Field) who was running away from her wedding with Junior. I don't believe Buford knows about the Bandits illegal cargo, he just wants to kidnap Sally Field's character and drag her back to get married against her will. To achieve this the Sheriff crosses numerous State lines and goes way out of his jurisdiction, seems ridiculous, but then again its not a sensible movie.

If you're expecting masses of car carnage then you might be disappointed, the only real devastation we see is to Buford's police car. The Bandit gets into various scraps and sticky situations along the journey from Texas to Georgia, but naturally evades most cleanly. The various police forces that try to nab the Trans Am of course end up flippin' over, crashing into each other or getting dunked into ditches. Along the route they are assisted by many other big rig drivers and locals that all believe the Bandit to be a local southern hero. This happens via everyone's CB radios which was also became very popular at the time, lots of rapid quickfire radio gibberish flying about that sounds cool but only truckers understand. Leaves you struggling to keep up with the dialog but its impressive sounding and actually authentic.

This is a very simple concept movie, there isn't really a lot to it. There aren't that many super duper stunts in all fairness, sure there's the obligatory 'Dukes of Hazzard' jump in the Trans Am and various bits of solid driving skills on show, but don't go expecting a 'Blues Brothers' riot of wreckage. Numerous drive-by shots of the now famous black Trans Am both near, far and wide, some in the rain, some in the gleaming sunshine, tyre spins, skids etc... Same again for the Kenworth rig and its iconic trailer art, lots of lovely wide shots and close-ups, and all vehicles with many interior shots of the cast as they speed along. Most of these sequences and shots are accompanied by a pretty good country soundtrack that's enough to get your foot tapping, overall it certainly delivers on open road auto porn that's for sure.

Its easy to see why this became such a hit, it was fresh, quirky, exhilarating stuff that kick started an entire genre. What's more it can be enjoyed by all ages as it offers thrills n spills for kids and adults, its one of those movies that was often shown on TV here in the UK. Looking back in retrospect I think it just about holds up, its stupid in places with the pratfall/slapstick comedy going overboard at times (Gleason's Buford and Henry's Junior mainly), but Needham keeps it together generally. Its basically one long real car chase interspersed with cheesy visual gags, cornball cult fun stuff, pure Americana.
Super Reviewer
June 1, 2014
"Smokey and the Bandit" is one of those fun movies that you can easily watch over and over again without ever getting tired. It's a movie to relax with a movie to party with, and a movie to just simply laugh with. I had a blast watching "Smokey and the Bandit," and for any country music fans out there, the soundtrack to this film is just awesome. As a man known as the Bandit is asked to import 400 cases of Coors Light Beer, the county sheriff is on a high speed chase for almost 900 miles to take him and his partner down. It is a hilarious film filled with jokes and surprisingly a few emotional/touching moments. I really really liked this film!
Super Reviewer
April 22, 2007
I can't even begin to sit here and defend this movie. Like a lot of people, I grew up watching this movie on TV and VHS. It's definitely not a masterpiece, but yet, it is on its own terms (especially when you look at the bile-inducing sequels). Smokey and the Bandit is, to me at least, the greatest guilty pleasure of all time. Anyone that says that they hate this movie and they mean it, well I don't try to continue having a conversation with them. This is just pure fun, and that's all there really is to it. The plot is full of holes, the sound work is full of obvious overdubs and the performances aren't all that great at times. The one performance that still stands out to this day is Jackie Gleason's Buford T. Justice, which he should've been nominated for an Oscar for. I'm not quite sure why this movie's appeal has lasted over the course of the last 35 years, but one thing's for sure: this will continue to be watched on late night TV until the end of the world.
Super Reviewer
½ August 5, 2011
This has proved to be one very popular film, especially where I come from. Even though I do kinda like this, I really don't think it's all that great, and I hope that people from back home don't find out, because I'd never hear the end of it.

This film, which doesn't really have a strong plot, is basically one long chase movie about a rebel who is tasked with going on an epic booklegging run from Texas to Georgia in 28 hours or less. On the way he picks up a runaway bride, and incurs the wrath of a Texas sheriff who is hell bent on stopping him. Unbeknownst to our hero is the main reason why the sheriff is after him: the runaway bride stood his son up at the altar.

Despite being a fun, funny, and entertaining chase movie, there's really no tension and suspense. Had Bandit known Sheriff Buford T. Justice's motive, then maybe there'd be a lot more to work with. Also, the audience could have used a better sense of how much time was left at various points during the movie. That also would have helped build up suspense.

Those are big flaws, but even then, there's something very likeable about this movie, even though it's pretty vacant. Burt Reynolds is charming and sly as Bandit, Jackie Gleason is an absolute riot as Justice. Sally Field may not be a supermodel or anything, but she's a good lookin' woman, and that's pretty evident her, especially since this was her in her (relatively) younger years.

I like silly, stupid, bonehead movies, but I was expecting more from this, especially since it seems to be so revered. It doesn't quite live up to its reputation, but I didn't totally hate it, and I'm glad I finally saw it. It is funny, and the cars and trucks are awesome, but this seems to take the easy way out and isn't what it could have been.
Super Reviewer
May 26, 2008
Also known as the movie that got every wannabe redneck to speak almost solely in CB slang. The film has it's moments in both the action and comedy realms, but falls short of being a classic. Still, Burt's charisma makes it seen that few others could have carried this film the way he did. Well, him and Ralph Cramden.
Super Reviewer
February 13, 2011
The parts I always liked best in "The Dukes of Hazzard" (the TV show, not the horrid film) were the car action and chase scenes. But after FINALLY seeing "Smokey and the Bandit," though the Trans Am may not be as classic as the General Lee, both the action and the comedy is a lot better in this film than in the aforementioned popular TV series. It was also interesting watching Reynolds and Field star together while keeping in mind that they dated several years. Classic stuff here! I liked it so much I immediately watched its sequel.
Super Reviewer
December 26, 2010
I half liked it, but I half didn't too. I didn't like the plot, it's pretty stupid. I hated the music too, they kept playing the same country song over and over. I did like the comedy and the car crashes though. Overall, it's okay.
Super Reviewer
December 13, 2009
Sometimes awesome is the only way to describe something, because it has no legs to stand on except that it's awesome. This is one of those times.
Super Reviewer
½ January 6, 2007
This has some good stunts and car chases but looking a little old now.
Super Reviewer
September 4, 2008
What can I say about this film that hasn't been said already? One of my favorites as a kid and I watched it anytime it was on HBO ( which was alot) but really how can you not love a movie that even Alfred Hitchcock called 'a guilty pleasure'? Smokey and the Bandit may not be Burt Reynolds, Sally Fields or Jackie Gleason's best movie - but it certainly will be one that they will be remembered for. The plot breakdown is fairly simple: Burt Reynolds and Jerry Reed are trucking partners that are bet they can't deliver 400 cases of beer across two states in under 24 hours. Since that type of delivery is illegal (and incidentally, so is how Jerry Reed drives) Burt Reynolds distracts the "Smokies" by breaking every traffic law in sight with his '76 Trans Am. Add to that Sally Field as the runaway bride who tags along and Jackie Gleason as the jilted-father-in-law/'Smokey' and you can see why this movie was second-highest grossing movie in 1977 (beaten out by Star Wars).

This is not an intelligent movie. There are no Oscar-caliber performances and no brilliant direction. It doesn't change the fact that Smokey and the Bandit remains fun to watch and the lines are still funny after the fifth time you've seen it or the fifteenth. The car chases are filmed well; you'll notice that the car crashes are surpassed only a few years later by John Landis' The Blues Brothers.

Smokey and the Bandit is one of the best Southern Rock/muscle car/beer and pizza movies you can rent or catch on TBS (although you miss most of Jackie Gleason's dialogue if you catch it on cable.) Check it out!
Super Reviewer
½ May 5, 2007
A funny romp across the highways of the South. The music and Gleason are a hoot!
Super Reviewer
September 1, 2007
Wild car chases. Good cast.
Super Reviewer
½ May 11, 2007
Don't let the revisionist critics fool you. This movie was HUGE when it first came out. Played for months. Anyone who said they didn't like it is lying. A fast, fun and funny movie.
Super Reviewer
March 25, 2007
One of the original red neck comedys, full of good 'ole boys, bar room brawls and smashed up police cars. Reynolds displays his usual charm, but it's pretty vacuous and dim-witted stuff. One for the kids.
Super Reviewer
January 26, 2007
Come on. You have to like this flick.
Super Reviewer
January 25, 2007
classic and fun
Super Reviewer
November 20, 2006
Jackie Gleason makes this movie. And Fred. So does Fred.
Super Reviewer
March 10, 2008
It was time for my annual Sherriff Buford T. Justice dose! Thought i would jump on here and actually review a few of the oldie but goodies as i rewatch them. What can't I say about this film? One of the best 70's Trucker themed movies of all time, a movie that actually gets me in the mood to listen to Jerry Reed's cd's, or country music in general for that fact, and last but not least the ever so excellent Jackie Gleason as the aforementioned sheriff. The movie in a whole was funny however its Buford's scenes with his son junior, that after all these years still provides me with that" I cant breathe " laugh. For the youngsters who have never heard of this let alone seen it in any form or capability, such as my 10 year old son...who mind you had to be coaxed with the "humour me" or the "do it for dad" pleas. He did seem to like the scene where Snowman after getting the shit kicked out of him at the bar repays them before leaving by running over their motorcycles, however is in a way diffrent genre then i was a kid...oh well whatta you gonna do? A great classic in my books!
Super Reviewer
July 5, 2008
Great fun. Burt Reynolds is wonderful as the bandit and Jackie Gleason is hilarious as his nemesis.
Super Reviewer
½ January 14, 2007
Burt Reynold vs. Jackie Gleason in this Bandit vs. Smokie tale that is just fun.
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