The Cannonball Run (1981)

Genres - Action, Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Action Comedy, Adventure Comedy, Buddy Film, Chase Movie, Road Movie  |   Release Date - Jun 19, 1981 (USA)  |   Run Time - 95 min.  |   Countries - Hong Kong, United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Donald Guarisco

After enjoying a pair of car-crashing hits with Smokey and the Bandit and Smokey and the Bandit II, Burt Reynolds continued to milk this reliable trend with The Cannonball Run. This time, Reynolds beefed up the film's box-office potential by working with a diverse array of guest stars to flesh out the film's tale of a transcontinental race. However, the film fails to live up to its promising setup and stellar cast due to a disjointed and uninspired script. The thin characterizations never rise above a basic cartoon level and the film is content to rely on cameos and stunts in place of a carefully constructed plot line. The Cannonball Run is further hurt by its often-indifferent performances. Reynold and Deluise seem more interested in amusing themselves than the audience and Jamie Farr's grotesque turn as the sheik is squirm-inducing even by politically incorrect standards. However, a few performances manage to make a comedic impact. Dean Martin and Sammy Davis lend a bit of "rat pack" charm to the film as a pair of gamblers posing as priests and Jack Elam steals every scene he's in as a demented doctor. Patient viewers will also be rewarded with the occasional inspired moment; the best of these is an all-star brawl where the cast takes on a group of bikers in slapstick fashion. However, moments like these are few and far between and even diehard Burt Reynolds fans may lose their patience before the credits roll.