May 20, 2014
How to Sink a Career in Six Easy Steps: A Tribute to the Films of Burt Reynolds and Hal Needham (part 4 of 8)
With a lot of help from my friends: The Cannonball Run (1981)
After the terrible sequel to Smokey and the Bandit, Reynolds and Needham teamed up for this comedy about a real-life illegal cross-country race from Connecticut to California. That’s basically all the plot there is, as the movie is primarily all of Burt’s friends getting screen time and being stiflingly unfunny. It’s a goddamn shame, because the cast assembled is simply astonishing. Not as astonishing as the sheer waste of talent on display, not to mention that this was actually a hit, but astonishing nonetheless.
Compounding the badness of the film is the fact that by the time this film came around, folks were starting to tire of Burt. Contrast with Clint Eastwood, who by this point had cemented a reputation as a reliable actor on-screen, and a man in complete control behind the scenes.
Clint even took a chunk out of Burt’s redneck comedy territory with Every Which Way But Loose and Any Which Way You Can, both of which not only brought in shitloads of money, but are also better than anything Burt ever did in the genre. Yes, this does mean that not one but two movies featuring Clint Eastwood horsing around with an orangutan easily trump this movie. And the second one isn’t even that great, apart from the last ten minutes!