The Cannonball Run Reviews
If you took "Death Race 2000", took out all of the blood, all of the nudity, made it unfunny, boring and only had the racing begin halfway through the film you would have a pretty awful movie. Well, 1981 brought us just that! "The Canonball Run", a lousy, offensive comedy that shows that just because the stars are having a good time, it doesn't mean that anyone else will. The film is about a cross-country car race across the United States, where teams of two or more racers compete for no prize at all besides bragging rights (how exciting!) The team we're supposed to be cheering for is J.J. McClure (Burt Reynolds) and the sidekick he has abused into submission, Victor Prinzim (Dom DeLuise). Every team has to have a strategy to avoid getting busted by the cops during this outlawed race so these guys come up with the actually pretty ingenious idea of empowering what looks like an ambulance with a powerful motor. To make the ruse more authentic, they hire an insane doctor, Dr. Nikolas Van Helsing (Jack Elam) to stay inside the ambulance if they get pulled over. Against the heroes are a slew of wacky racers, including Jackie Chan and Michael Hui as Japanese drivers with a high-tech car; Jamie Farr as an Arabian Sheik; Roger Moore as what is either himself, a Roger Moore impersonator, or a man named Seymour Goldfarb who is a secret agent, an assassin and a philanthropist who also acts in films under the pseudonym of Roger Moore; Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. as two drunks pretending to be catholic priests, two spandex-clad hotties who seduce their way through their speeding tickets (played by Adrienne Barbeau and Tara Buckman) and more. Because J.J. is a nearly psychopathic horn-dog, he and his team also kidnap an airhead tree hugger they brainwash into calling herself "Beauty" along for the ride (Farrah Fawcett).
This film was an absolute chore to watch. It's extremely predictable and further hindering the movie is the fact that we do not see our protagonists race until 42 minutes into the movie. I've forgiven films for starting up slowly before because they were setting up a big story or developing the characters but everyone here is a one-joke paper cut-out that isn't the least bit exciting. Burt Reynolds is a player who always has one eye on the finish line and the other peering down the shirt of every girl in the vicinity. Dom DeLuise is an idiot with a split personality that we're supposed to love because he was a kind heart and is the constant butt of jokes. I hated the both of them... almost as much as Farrah Fawcett's character Beauty. She literally gets kidnapped, drugged and dragged across the United States against her will and barely protests. When her character is introduced, she's a total ditz, meant to be sexually ogled by the audience and the people in the film and it gets really old really quickly. At first, the film threw me for a loop. When she is introduced, she comes off as the kind of person who would be against an illegal car race because she's hanging out with some hippy stereotypes with sticks up their butts. I figured she would be somehow roped into joining the race and would argue with J.J. constantly until they inevitably fell in love. "At least, (I thought to myself) she isn't a dumb, ditzy blonde that joined up with the level 3 vegan assembly without knowing what she was getting into. If that was the case, she would be too stupid to argue against J.J. and would, as the film goes along lose more and more clothing to make her an obvious sex object". Just a few scenes later and we can see her wearing a white sweatshirt and no bra underneath, ready to be fooled by the dumbest lies and convinced to abandon her name because of J.J.'s charms.
Forget that the characters are bland and that the film is boring, the least it could do is be either funny or charming. It's neither. It plays like an inside joke between this group of friends that are having a great time and don't care who they are alienating. It's like everyone was having such a good time they didn't realize how downright offensive the movie gets. Take for example the introduction of the "Japanese Team". They cast Jackie Chan, who is Chinese, as one of the racers. As for his girlfriend, "the top movie star of Japan", she's clearly Filipino and is described as appearing in many Godzilla movies. We've got the broadest stereotype of Arabs in the form of the Sheik, several jabs at Jews and we're supposed to let it slide because these actors were having a good time? I rolled my eyes at the endless Roger Moore-James Bond references. We get it! You played 007! Can we move on? Yeah, Adrienne Barbeau and Tara Buckman are attractive, but they don't do anything with these characters. I would have laughed hard at an obvious joke they SHOULD have done, which was see these two being held up for a half hour while a particularly frisky state trooper insisted on strip-searching them after they attempts at seducing him. That would have been clever though and there's nothing clever in this movie.
I didn't absolutely loathe this film as much as I did say... "Freddy Got Fingered" but I cannot think of a single thing that was good about this movie. Some people would say the stunts and yeah, a couple of them are good but the terrible fight choreography edges that out. I found it unimaginative, offensive and worst of all completely boring. I cannot think of anyone I would ever recommend the film to so I have to be honest and give this film a 0 / 5. Don't watch it and stay away from the sequels, which I hear are even worse. (On Dvd, May 8, 2014)
stars Burt Reynolds, Roger Moore, Dom DeLuise, Farrah Fawcett, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, Jamie Farr, Jack Elam, Adrienne Barbeau, Terry Bradshaw, Mel Tillis, Jackie Chan and Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder.
directed by Hal Needham.