Smokey and the Bandit Part 3 (1983) / Comedy-Action
MPAA Rated: PG for language, sexuality and nudity (PG-13 by today's standards -- possibly a mild R)
Running Time: 85 min.
Cast: Jackie Gleason, Jerry Reed, Mike Henry, Pat McCormick, Paul Williams, Colleen Camp, Faith Minton, Burt Reynolds
Director: Dick Lowry
Screenplay: Stuart Birnbaum, David Dashev
Review published August 22, 2004
Just when you thought things couldn't possibly be worse in the Smokey and the Bandit saga than Part II, along comes Part 3 to remind you that no matter how bad things can be, someone can always come along and screw it up more. Although the creative minds behind it are completely different, not a single one of them brings anything new to the table (save some gratuitous nudity) in what ends up being a rote exercise in by-the-numbers movie making.
Not even the Bandit himself, Burt Reynolds, wanted to come back for more, and considering the state of his career at the time of this release, that says quite a bit. All I could do was feel sorry. Sorry for Jackie Gleason and Jerry Reed for needing the money so badly that they were compelled to sign up for a film they knew has no merit whatsoever, and the only solace they probably enjoy after the finished product was released is that no one went to see it.
Just like the other two films, Smokey Part 3 kicks off its plot with Big Enos (McCormick, The Gong Show Movie) and Little Enos (Williams, Phantom of the Paradise) offering a wager to deliver a shipment across state lines. Here, they actually make the offer to Sheriff Justice (Gleason, The Toy) himself, who is to transport a large shark display for the Enis Eatery from Florida back to Texas. The wager is $250,000, or the loss of Justice's badge. This time, the Enoses don't want the package delivered, setting up many obstacles along the way, including hiring the Bandit to steal away the fish sign. Since the original Bandit is unavailable, they hire his partner, Cledus (Reed, WW and the Dixie Dancekings), to take his place behind the wheel of the Trans Am.
So, did I miss something? With Sheriff Buford retiring, what possible reason would the Enoses want him to wager giving up his badge? It just doesn't make sense, and neither does anything else in this horribly executed spit in the face of all fans of the original film. Justice gets detoured into the most obscure areas all along the way, and yet The Enoses are there at every turn with no apparent explanation as to why or how. And for goodness sake, why would you drive around in a car filled with milk without letting it out?!
I'll give the producers and director credit for only one thing: despite the differences all around in the crew, the movie does maintain the formula set about by the other two entries, with lots of stunts and sense of the characters. Sadly, this means that it feels like little more than a live-action cartoon, with the same tired jokes and now trite dialogue given to Justice.
However, as much as they keep things along the same lines, there is a crass element that has been introduced with Part 3 that just makes it seem even worse than it already is. Watch Justice get hooked in the groin by a fishing hook. Watch Justice have simulated sex with a transvestite. Watch Big and Little Enos dress up as women and hide out in a sex club. Yes, there's also quite a bit of nudity here (the PG rating predates PG-13), and although much of the humor might appeal to kids, the producers try mostly to entertain juvenile-minded adults.
To sum up by misquoting Buford T. Justice, what we're dealing with here is a complete lack of respect for the fans. There is no way that this sequel could have come from Smokey and the Bandit's loins.
©2004 Vince Leo