Cannonball Run II (1984) / Comedy-Action

MPAA Rated: PG for language, mild violence and some sexual humor
Running Time: 108 min.

Cast: Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise, Shirley MacLaine, Jamie Farr, Charles Nelson Reilly, Marilu Henner, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Jackie Chan, Susan Anton, Telly Savalas, Catherine Bach, Tony Danza, Jim Nabors, Mel Tillis, Frank Sinatra, Jack Elam, Ricardo Montalban, Abe Vigoda, Alex Rocco
Director: Hal Needham

Screenplay: Harvey Miller, Hal Needham, Albert S. Ruddy
Review published  March 20, 2004

Granted, the original Cannonball Run isn't exactly a critical masterpiece, but for what it is, it does work well.  The superfluous sequel, however, shows what can happen when all the fun is sucked out of the formula.  In hopes of cashing in on the successful first venture, many of the participants are called back for round two, only this time, the creative forces botched it big time.  Normally, sequels take what was successful from the first film and give you much more, but Cannonball Run II mystifyingly strips away all of the good stuff, then injects some of the dumbest, most unfunny, and completely unnecessary side plots to fill up most of the running time.  I'm not sure what they paid to get all of these stars, but it would have been a far better service to give the fans of the series the cash instead and forgo making a film altogether. 

The plot?  Well, let's just say that the most amazing thing about this movie about a coast-to-coast car race is that 90% of it is not about that at all.  I'm really hard-pressed to tell you the actual plot, as it never really makes a great deal of sense, but it has something to do with a bunch of mafia type guys out to get some cash from the Sammy Davis Jr. (The Trackers) character, and the turmoil they cause in meddling every step of the way in the overall race. 

The first problem with Cannonball Run II lies in the fact that Brock Yates, writer of the first film and one of the creators of the actual race, is out as screenwriter.  In his place are the screenwriters for a piece of movie mega-crap called Megaforce, Ruddy and director Needham, and they commit some of the most flagrant errors you can make in writing a film like this.  It's hard to believe that it take nearly half of the movie before the actual race is underway, and just when you finally think you are going to see some fun racing action, the idiotic plot re-emerges and the race angle is detoured.  Going from California to Connecticut, and the drivers never progress past Arizona or Nevada until the final scene!

Instead of the race, the film is merely an excuse for nonstop cameo appearances, cars crashing through buildings or fistfights in every other scene, and the silliest ideas for cheap laughs you'll ever see in a film.  Unless you absolutely think an orangutan slapping people and giving everyone the middle finger is hilarious, or want to see Marilu Henner (Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub-Zero) getting it on with Dom DeLuise (History of the World Part I), it's far more entertaining watching the second hand of your watch go around 108 times. 

When there finally is any action, it is noticeably sped up and completely uninspired.  The awful soundtrack doesn't help matters, All of the reasons to see the film are nowhere to be found -- not much racing plus almost no funny moments = a total waste of time, energy and money, especially for anyone who paid to see it.  Don't watch this unless you are inebriated, and if you are, keep on drinking -- maybe you can pass out before having to endure any more of this stomach-turning travesty!

 Qwipster's rating:

2004 Vince Leo