Smokey and the Bandit - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Smokey and the Bandit Reviews

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July 23, 2015
Jackie Gleason carries this funny and entertaining film
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.
May 25, 2015
A lot of work for shitty beer. Eeeeeaastbound and down...
April 27, 2015
This movie is all kinds of fun. It's like a Roadrunner cartoon with every cop in Texas playing the Coyote. Jackie Gleason is the best. Towards the end he breaks character a little and just goes crazy with it. I'm guessing some of his scenes he improvised on the spot. Burt Reynolds doesn't have a lot going on, but that's a good thing. All you know is he's a legend and you want to help him get where he's got to go and flip some cop cars along the way. These guys are crazy. The CB radio banter is another highlight. I found Sally Field a little annoying, but she's very pretty so I wasn't complaining. She's joins Burt Reynolds because she's afraid of rejection so she rejects everything, like her wedding. It's really the story of one self-destructive person being lead by another self-destructive person. If the writers of the script were in a bad mood when they wrote the story this could have easily been a much darker movie. I'm glad the sun was shining that day because this movie is comedy gold.
½ March 16, 2015
I really wanted to like this movie more than I do. It's not that I dislike it ... I think it's very difficult to dislike. The leads are all very appealling and it's light and it's fun. I think it ends up being too light for me. It just kind of floated away from me and I remember very little of it just a few days later. It strikes me as the glossy Hollywood version of some grittier, better films that are just a bit more substantial. This film single-handedly created 1980s Burt Reynolds ... I prefer 1970s Burt all thoings considered.
February 7, 2015
This is a funny movie for a Saturday afternoon that just makes you feel good.
½ February 6, 2015
The classic original is the best of 3 and has memorable crashes and one-liners. Never a dull moment.
February 6, 2015
hilarious for multiple generations. I think this movie may last forever.
January 4, 2015
I dont know what it is but there's something weirdly likeable about this film. The premise is terrible and there's like 10 pages of dialogue but it's so cartoonish and enthusiastic it's hard not to enjoy. I dig the music too.
October 3, 2014
This is THE redneck drivin' fantasy of all time, darn tootin..
Adventurous, engaging, silly, guffaw-worthy at times - especially Jackie Gleason's ever bigger take as a "Ralph Kramden from Texas" doofus ignoramus with his usual brilliant comic timing and slyly hilarious quips.
A perfect match for Burt Reynolds quick witted, fun-loving redneck with a heart.
Low budget all the way, this surprise hit helped put cb slang on the map, and made it cool - a snapshot of 70s rough-n-tumble, good-ol'-boy pop culture.
The edited tv version made this movie even more accessible to adults and children alike.
A great memory of mine.
Only the 80's tv show Dukes of Hazzard seemed able to carry some of the magic from this film.
The other sequels and spin offs never quite got off the ground.
No matter - the enthusiasm and sheer joyful fun here is still infectious and not to be missed, including the handlebar mustache, flair leg jeans and all the YeeHaws you can stand.
10-4 good buddy.

4 out of 5 Boy Howdys
September 19, 2014
Jackie Gleason was definitely at his funniest in this series of movies. Jerry Reed was enjoyable in his role of Snowman and definitely helped make the Trans-Am a popular car with teens and men alike.
August 11, 2014
(First viewing - Late teen years)
July 27, 2014
a light fun action movie
July 22, 2014
One of my all time favourite comedies, this one brings me to tears every time
July 16, 2014
The best summer comedy ever
June 27, 2014
What this film lacks in plot and character development, it more than makes up for in just how much fun this movie is. It knows what it is and runs with it. Many plot conveniences, but this simply charming outlaw is impossible to hate.
½ June 25, 2014
I loved it When that Black with Gold 6.6 Litre, T-top Pontiac Trans Am rolls out..
Jackie Gleason was a funny sumbitch
June 7, 2014
The quintessential car guy's movie. It still makes me want to buy a black 77 Trans-Am.
June 2, 2014
This is old-fashion fun at one of its finest.
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!
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