The Cannonball Run-1981
Starring-Burt Reynolds, Farrah Fawcett, Roger Moore
Scott’s Review #1,204
Reviewed December 4, 2021
The Cannonball Run (1981) is someone’s idea of collecting big film and television stars of the time and throwing them into a film with a pointless plot about cross-country road racing.
Truth be told, it’s a pretty bad film. But, it’s a fun and entertaining way to spend ninety minutes just to see the multitude of celebrities in both cameos and leading roles. Otherwise, The Cannonball Run should be skipped.
Taking a glance at the list of players we have Burt Reynolds, Farrah Fawcett, Roger Moore, Sammy Davis Jr., Dom DeLuise, Peter Fonda, Dean Martin, Jamie Farr, Jackie Chan, Peter Fonda, Adrienne Barbeau, Bert Convoy, and Terry Bradshaw.
Hopefully, the actors had a good time making the film.
The acting is not stellar and one wonders if many of the cast simply phoned it in or even read much of the script. The out-takes look like everyone was having one grand old time. And whether some were even sober during the shooting is debatable.
The film is loosely based on the 1979 running of an actual cross-country outlaw road race in the United States, beginning in Connecticut and ending in California.
It was one of 1981’s most successful films at the box office which is a scary realization. It was followed by two forgettable sequels- Cannonball Run II (1984), and Speed Zone (1989).
Feeling very thrown together, director Hal Needham is most known for collaborations with Burt Reynolds involving cars and car chases so the plot, if one wants to call it that, is right up his alley.
Race teams gather in Connecticut to start a cross-country car race. One at a time, teams drive up to the starters’ stand, punch a time card to indicate their time of departure, then take off. The reward to be given to the winner is one million dollars. A representative of the “Safety Enforcement Unit” tries to stop the race because of its environmental effects and safety issues.
Various teams are shown either evading law enforcement, most of which deal with talking their way out of a possible ticket or concocting crazy schemes to outmaneuver their opponents.
The winner of the race is rather unimportant.
It’s all silly and not to be taken seriously. There are plenty of stereotypes like Jamie Farr’s Middle-Eastern wealthy sheik driving a Rolls Royce and the inevitable scantily clad females in tight wear.
Despite The Cannonball Run being riddled with enough negative aspects to make me hate the film, it’s kind of fun. The bevy of different vehicles like an ambulance, an Aston Martin DB5 (driven by Moore’s James Bond imitating the character of course), a Ferrari, and a Chevrolet Malibu are all entertaining.
There is no character development nor any characters with any depth so the only reason to see the film is for the speedy cars and the competition.
And to see which celebrity will appear next.
A slapstick film that makes even the similarly penned Smokey and the Bandit (1977) seem like high-art, The Cannonball Run (1981) is a must-see only for genre fans or those who are willing to watch and perhaps even be entertained by any type of movie.
I haven’t seen the film in eons but can imagine it’s a film only meant for its time and now would feel incredibly dated.