The Gumball Rally (1976)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Chase Movie, Ensemble Film, Road Movie  |   Release Date - Aug 20, 1976 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 106 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Although it has been eclipsed by the better-known The Cannonball Run, The Gumball Rally is a better version of the comedic car-race movie. Writer Leon Capetanos and director Chuck Bail wisely treat the film like a live-action cartoon; Capetanos punctuates his madcap storyline with plenty of sense-defying stunt set pieces and gives the characters colorful personalities to match the story's wild tone, while Bail conducts the onscreen mayhem with a fine sense of slapstick-comedy timing and an eye for color (both the comedic and visual kinds). It's also worth noting that the film boasts a catchy, jazz-inflected score by Dominic Frontiere that adds immensely to the film's "Looney Tunes" feel. However, the fun quotient of The Gumball Rally is truly sealed by engaging performances from a game cast: Raul Julia is the obvious standout as the amorous Italian driver, but Michael Sarrazin does a good job delivering icy cool as the race's leader, and Gary Busey fully indulges his wild-man persona as a demolition-derby driver. The end result is light entertainment, to be sure, but it never pretends to be anything else and goes about its business with a knowing wink toward the audience. As a result, The Gumball Rally remains a fun example of the action comedy.