I don't think I've ever seen Speed Zone before. It just seems so incredibly unnecessary to make a second sequel to Cannonball Run, especially if it's not even called "Cannonball Run 3". Hey, speaking of "unnecessary", did you know there was a TV pilot made for a Cannonball Run spinoff television show that would star Terry Bradshaw and Mel Tillis? It was called "The Stockers" according to IMDB. What an odd idea.
It's a little strange that I don't like this movie better. The "star-studded cast" is studded with people I actually like: John Candy, Joe Flaherty, Peter Boyle, Matt Frewer, Eugene Levy, and the Smothers Brothers are all people I actively enjoy. Unfortunately, I do not enjoy them in this movie, which believes shouting and unpleasantness is funny. The weird thing is, normally I agree with this. But they found a way to make Joe Flaherty trying to kill Matt Frewer unamusing. That's not easy.
It's interesting the number of ways Speed Zone! finds to be worse than Cannonball Run. The first movie is obviously sexist, but this one somehow makes it worse by being so leering about it. Like, I'm not sure Cannonball Run understood what it was doing, but Speed Zone! takes a positive delight in making its female characters the subjects of leering jokes by all the other characters. I think the first movie mostly assumed that once you have Farrah Fawcett and Adrienne Barbeau, the audience can take care of the leering. I guess Jack Elam did some leering, but the that joke was about how creepy Elam was, not about how funny it is to speculate about whether women are wearing bras.
Movies like this tend to have cars doing enormously unlikely jumps, which are edited together to make it look like the car lands safely. The one in this one, where Flaherty and Frewer jump over a lake, has one of the worst jumps I've ever seen, because they left in way too much of the actual jump. The car they flung over the lake clearly lands on its back bumper with the rest of the car straight up in the air. It's great. You'd think a movie like this could at least get the crash scenes right.
This movie marks a high point in the field of "police wildly overreacting to speeders" when Peter Boyle shuts down every highway in the country to funnel everyone onto I-70 so he can set up a roadblock at Baker, CA. Personally, I think he'll have trouble with that, what with all the road scenes clearly taking place in Canada. It would have helped to maybe cover up the signs saying how many kilometres away things were. And making sure all the visible road signs were in English would have been a nice touch, too.
One of the things that makes Vanishing Point so good is that it was actually shot where the action was supposed to be taking place. You don't really get the feel of "driving cross-country" when you're just watching two hours of people driving around the plains just outside of Quebec.
Special note: Both this and Cannonball! feature a team using an airplane to cheat. If you're thinking of operating a coast-to-coast race, I recommend checking the odometers.