Friday, June 1, 2007

Cannonball Run

I freely admit that Cannonball Run is a terrible movie. You don't need to tell me that, okay? We'll just take it as given. Unfortunately for all of us, it was also one of the only movies that HBO carried back in my formative years. We're just lucky I didn't imprint on Under the Rainbow.

So I know this movie really well. I don't know how many times I've seen it, but it's sunk deep into my DNA. I know it so well, I can cheerfully quote either the theatrical version or that censored version they show on networks. Right now, I'm actively wondering if the soundtrack is available somewhere. I even liked the USA reality show from 2001, and I think I'm the only person who even knows that show happened.

My point is that I'm not reliable in this matter. When Dom Deluise says "Been a cop long?" I'm on the floor. I actually worry about what happens to the motorcycle that Bert Convy rides out of the airplane. I say "Hold onto your lunchpail. This may get a little weird" all the time. Well, in my head.

The crazy thing is that this is actually one of the more accurate movies about racing coast-to-coast. The screenplay was written by Brock Yates, who created the Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash in the first place. In fact, you know that ambulance that Burt Reynolds and Dom Deluise drive? It's the same ambulance that Yates drove in the 1979 version of the race. The script was apparently goofied up a good deal, but it's got more authenticity than you think it does. Hey! Why don't you read Yates's book Cannonball!: World's Greatest Outlaw Road Race? It's prety entertaining. He's in the movie, too; he's the guy who gives the introductory speech before the race begins.

Anyway, the movie. I find it odd that all these secretive underground races have big, splashy finish lines. The hotel even welcomes them on their marquee, so I assume they have some sort of package deal.

The record in this movie is 32:51, by the way. I like the idea that the record from the previous movie got broken. Another record broken: toal alcohol consumed. The Gumball Rally doesn't make a big deal out of it, but a lot of people are throwing back beers while they're driving, and toward the end, there's some amp-popping. You know, to keep going. Cannonball Run ups the ante a bit, largely by adding Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. This is Dino's last film role and by this time, I don't think he knew how to act sober.

Okay! Things I like about this movie: almost everything, especially the things that are silly or irrelevant. Like Burt saying "Pumps one and two. Hit 'em!" on the theory that he has two gas tanks and it doesn't matter if one of the pumps is unleaded and one premium because "She goes both ways!" That's almost as random a line as "He's got the franchise!" from Kill and Kill Again. I also like Jackie Chan kicking Peter Fonda in the face. For that matter, I like almost all of the fight scene, because it shows that the racers can bond together. I even like the idea that Captain Chaos can make the ambulance go faster, and that doesn't even make sense!

It does kind of bug me that the girls in the Lamborghini left before everyone else, so Burt Reynolds could easily have run up there and punched his ticket for a shorter race time. That's right: I'm concerned about possible plot holes in Cannonball Run. Fear me.

One last note: isn't it nice of A.J. Foyt to bring the arrested racers to the finish line in a taxi? A lot of obsessed authority figures wouldn't do that.


Anonymous said...

Heh, I'm glad I'm not the only one who loves this really quite bad movie. I was also raised on it, probably watching it on HBO over and over. (I don't know what made my parents think it was appropriate viewing for me.)

My husband only looks at me strangely when I quote it from memory. Perhaps it is time to Netflix it and force him to watch it.

Tom the Dog said...

PREVIOUS movie?? Are you saying this was meant to be a sequel to that Gumball Rally movie you mention? I've never heard that before. Weird.

I talked about Cannonball Run a couple years ago and wondered why I ever liked such a dumb movie (and you defended it in the comments!). I still think it's dumb... but I still feel an odd affection for it, having grown up watching it repeatedly like you.

Now I have to go watch Cannonball Run 2 in honor of the passing of Charles Nelson Reilly.

Monty Ashley said...

It's not an official sequel, but it's pretty easy to see them both being in the same universe, about the same race a few years apart.

Tom the Dog said...

I understood your point when I read the next review down. I read them in the reverse order I should have. My bad!