|Smokey and the Bandit
1977 - PG - 96 Mins.
|Director: Hal Needham
|Written By: Hal Needham
|Starring: Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jerry Reed, Mike Henry, Jackie Gleason
|Review by: John Ulmer
Cars are not funny. Speeding cars are not funny. Trucks are not funny. Speeding trucks are not funny. Cop cars are not funny. Speeding cop cars are not funny. It is not funny when a cop car loses a regular car in a chase and flies off a ramp into water. It is especially not funny when Jackie Gleason is the driver of this car. It is not funny when cop cars are chasing after one car, and all the cop cars are destroyed and the "hero's" car is left intact. It is not funny when a car slams through roadblocks. It is not funny when a car outmaneuvers cop cars and flies off of multiple objects in slow motion until it lands perfectly on the ground and the cop cars land upside down fifty feet away.
It just isn't.
But yet Hollywood continually shovels out this filth and plays it up as something it isn't: Funny.
Don't get me wrong, now. Perhaps the first one or two times it is at least amusing. But after the film does nothing but show cars fly through the air, I get to be a bit bored.
Now the case is different in a film where the car chase is part of the plot, like "The French Connection" or "The Bourne Identity." Then the car chase is something interesting, something there for a purpose other than cheap gags...then the scene is funny, or at least amusing.
But when a film is made up primarily of car chases and speeding trucks crashing into things, we have lack of funny. We actually have lack of humor. Because car chases and cars launching through the air is not funny, but rather boring, predictable, and a big pay check for stunt drivers out there. It's nothing else. And it's definitely not funny. Read my lips, Hollywood: IT IS NOT FUNNY. Whatever it is, it is not funny.
Somewhere along the line somebody thought it was funny, and boost-started the Burt Reynolds Era. Here we were introduced to millions of car chase films, and even millions more of countless spawns and rip-offs. Let me name just a few, most of which star Burt: "Smokey and the Bandit," "Smokey and the Bandit II," "Smokey and the Bandit III," "Cannonball Run," "Cannonball Run II," "Speed Zone! (a.k.a. "Cannonball Run III")."
Burt Reynolds starred in four of the six I named.
Of course, these are just a few films to name, but there are countless others. And none of them are remotely funny; especially the sequels. The sad thing is how much talent so many of the sequels (and originals) got: Dom Deluise, Eugene Levy, Jackie Chan, Sally Field, and John Candy.
So obviously people thought the general audience liked these movies. But they didn't, don't, and never have. I have never heard anyone say they miss car chase films from the seventies and eighties. And you know what?
I don't miss them, either.