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Flashback Review: June 17th, 2014 Movie – Cannonball Run II

cannonball run 2

Yes, I know I am late with this one. Unfortunately, I had a long day at work yesterday and had started to watch the movie when I was asked to help on a service call that night in exchange for not having to go in today, which I accepted. Anyways, today’s movie is one of the numerous sequels that had come out in the 80’s. I remember seeing Cannonball Run II as a kid, and thinking it was really funny. After rewatching it, I realized that I was mixing parts of The Cannonball Run with this movie in my memory, which was kind of disappointing. Now let’s go through and sort out my memories.

The plot: One year after losing the Cannonball Run, Sheik Abdul ben Falafel is chastised by his father for bringing shame to their family, as they are known for having the fastest of everything. The king orders him to go back to America and win the Cannonball Run this year but when the Sheik says there isn’t a Cannonball Run this year, the king tells him to just buy one. In America, Jill Rivers and Marcie Thatcher are still racing along the highways in a Lamborghini, this time it starts off as white but after dodging a couple of cops, they have a construction crew spray off the white paint to reveal the car is actually red and continue heading on the highway towards the start of the Cannonball. Meanwhile, J.J. McClure and Victor Prinzim are working as stuntmen and Victor is set to act as a human bomb, with J.J. convincing him that everything will be fine but if he is scared, he can always have “Him” do the stunt. J.J. walks off but as he hears the newscaster talking about how famous Victor will be for pulling off the stunt, he decides to take Victor’s place, only to find Victor has changed into Captain Chaos. After convincing Captain Chaos to let him do the stunt, J.J. goes through with it but the bomb drops early and skips across the parking lot, through a Winnebago and a jet, before finally crashing through the target, the net, and into the hay behind them. Victor rushes over with the paramedics and as J.J. exits the bomb, Victor says they can do that 10 times a day and be billionaires quickly, then starts ripping up the Sheik’s invitation to the Cannonball but J.J. chastises him for the idea. As some of the other former Cannonballers head out to California to start the race, Morris Fenderbaum owes $30,000 to Don Don, the son of Mafia Kingpin Don Canneloni. Don Don’s men head to the hotel and confront Fenderbaum and JAmie King about the money and Fenderbaum tells them that they are in the Cannonball Run and the prize is $1 million. As the mobsters question who would sponsor such a race, the Sheik walks in and sees Fenderbaum and Jamie and greets them. Fenderbaum tries to point out the men with guns but the Sheik sees the men’s shoes and gives them a pile of cash, telling them to buy a shoe store to get some better shoes. Meanwhile, Don Don is visited by Hymie Kaplan, another gangster who is friends with Don Canneloni. Hymie is there to collect the money that Don Don owes him, which totals over $9 million, but Don Don doesn’t have that much money on him so Hymie tells him he has until tomorrow to get the money. As the race is getting ready to start, Mel and his cousin Tony head to their Uncle Cal’s auto dealership to get a car. He tells them that he will let them use his promotional limousine so long as they take his orangutan with them, which acts as the limo’s driver. Meanwhile, J.J. and Victor are at a diner talking about what they would do with the prize money when they are approached by Betty and Veronica, two women who are dressed as nuns as part of “The Sound Of Music” show that they are part of but have grown tired of working the small time and decided to try and latch onto them, thinking they are rich. Victor believes the ladies are really nuns and agrees to let them sit with them and they talk briefly before Betty and Veronica leave. At the race’s starting line, J.J. and Victor show up dressed as an Army General and Private respectively, driving a souped up car from a military motor pool. They are approached by Betty and Veronica, who ask them for a lift to New York and Victor convinces J.J. to let them come. As they head to the car, they run into Fenderbaum and Jamie, who are dressed as cops, and after taunting J.J. and Victor, they tell the nuns that their disguise won’t work, as they tried it last year as priests, but J.J. tells them that they are real nuns. The Sheik gives a speech and then starts the race and Victor, changing into Captain Chaos, tells J.J. he will get him the win, then tells Betty to sit up front with him and let Veronica sit with J.J. in the back. As the race commences, Don Don tells his men to kidnap the Shiek so they can use him to get the money he owes Hymie and they attempt to kidnap him during the race, first using a car with pincers to grab onto the Sheik’s bumper and then using a helicopter with a magnet underneath it, but both attempts fail. Meanwhile, J.J. and Victor both find themselves attracted to Veronica and Betty respectively, while both “nuns” have been somewhat flirting with the men, but as Victor asks about their order again, Betty says it has been a long day and they should get some sleep now, pulling up a curtain between the front and back seats. The next day, they are pulled over and the sheriff doesn’t seem to buy the story J.J. and Victor are telling him. When the sheriff’s nephew, Pvt. Homer Lyle, shows up on his 3-day leave, J.J. tell him he is being drafted to drive their car to Connecticut and Lyle agrees. The sheriff wants to call it in but as he heads to his car, Betty and Veronica lean out the window and tell the sheriff that their mission is very important and he believes them. The sheriff offers them an escort to the county line and as they are getting in their cars, J.J. tells him to look out for two men dressed as cops driving a Corvette, telling him that they are Commies, and the sheriff puts the word out, but Fenderbaum and Jamie have a police scanner in their car and realize J.J. is trying to set them up again. They manage to cause the police chasing them to crash, then catch up to J.J.’s car and make them spin out. While Jill and Marcie continue burning out their cars and swindling people out of their sports cars, Mel and Tony take turns driving the car but when the orangutan ends up in the back with Tony and starts acting up, Tony goes up front with Mel, saying it is safer, leaving the orangutan to actually drive the car. Team Mitsubishi, the giant Arnold and his mechanic Jackie, stop at an open fruit/vegetable market, where Jackie proceeds to beat up the bikers that are harassing the owners. When the owners’ daughter invites Jackie to dinner, Jackie starts to accept but Arnold grabs him and says they have a race to finish. Elsewhere, J.J.’s group stop for gas and food and Betty and Veronica take the time to change out of their nun costumes, much to the surprise of J.J., Victor, and Homer. Realizing that they were played, J.J. smirks and tells Veronica to get in the car, where they proceed to start kissing, and a short while later they leave Homer on the side of the road, thanking him for his service. Jill and Marcie’s second car breaks down and when the tow truck operator keeps staring at them instead of the car, they end up taking his tow truck when he tells them the engine in it, and the driver as well. As more hijinks with the Cannonballers occur, Don Don’s men manage to capture the Sheik and take him to the Pinto Ranch. When the Cannonballers find out, Fenderbaum is forced to admit that they owe the Canneloni family money but suggests they go see the King for help. They head back to Las Vegas, where they meet with Frank Sinantra, and after explaining the situation to him, he helps them come up with a way to get into the ranch. J.J., Victor, and Fenderbaum disguise themselves as belly dancers, with Jamie as their agent, and they pass themselves off as a dance act. After the act, as Don Don is giving them contracts, Hymie enters and demands his money. Don Don hands him the $1 million prize money that the Sheik had, then tells Don Don he wants the rest in the morning. J.J., Victor, and Fenderbaum manage to get the money from Hymie and after meeting back with Jamie, they go to find the Sheik, only to find him being pampered by some of the women at the ranch. Hymie’s men capture them but the other Cannonballers crash through the doors and a fight breaks out. When the dust settles, all of Don Don’s and Hymie’s men are beaten but the Sheik tells everyone that he is now partners with Don Don, as he has decided to purchase the Pinto Ranch. When Hymie reminds Don Don about the money he owes him, Don Don speaks with the Sheik, who gives him $18 million. The Sheik then tells everyone that he is doubling the prize money and everyone gets back in their cars to finish the race, with Frank Sinatra deciding to join in. When the race finishes, the Sheik loses again and as his father berates him, he says that it is Doctor Van Helsing’s fault for injecting something in him for his ulcer. When his father says he has one last chance, with another Cannonball set to take place the next day, the Sheik tells his father he can’t lose, as he hired the winner of the race to be his co-driver. He then introduces his father to the winner, which turns out to be the orangutan, who proceeds to kiss the King.

Cannonball Run II met with poor results from the critics, currently holding a 13% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the critics felt that the movie was uninspired and the laughter felt forced. With the appearance of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Shirley MacLaine, many people feel that it is the last feature film of the Rat Pack, as this was Sinatra’s and Martin’s last film. Cannonball Run II barely made a profit, earning $28 million off of an estimated $20 million budget and when a third movie was announced, Jamie Farr was the only person to reprise his role in it.

Yeh, this was rather disappointing of a sequel. The acting was ok but a lot of the interactions felt a little forced, even with the pairings of Burt Reynolds (J.J.) and Dom DeLuise (Victor) and Dean Martin (Jamie) and Sammy Davis Jr. (Fenderbaum). The story was incredibly weak, both with the premise for the new race and the side plot with Don Don and Hymie. The comedy felt like it was just a rehash of everything from the first movie but all of the timing for the jokes felt off and watered down in some cases. This really is a bad attempt to copy off the success of the first film.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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Flashback Review: April 6th, 2014 Movie – Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero

batman & mr freeze subzero

1998 was some fun times for me. Nerf Wars, invading a friends house and ambushing him when he got home, having all my friends work with me at Dairy Queen and all the antics we had there. One of the things we used to do all the time was gather at one friend or another’s house and watch movies TV, especially during the summer. One day, we decided to watch this movie, as two of my friends are huge Batman fans, and besides, who doesn’t like watching a cartoon movie. Anyways, years later, when I decided to go out and get some of the animated Batman movies on DVD, I made sure to pick up a copy of today’s movie, Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero, so I can enjoy both the movie and the memories it invokes.

The plot: Mr. Freeze, after his last encounter with Batman, has escaped up to the Arctic and made a new home for himself; living there with his cyogenically frozen wife Nora, Koonak (an Inuit boy that he has adopted), and Hotchka and Shaka, two polar bears he has trained. After diving into the water with Hotchka and Shaka to get some fish for dinner, Freeze heads to the portion of his lair where his wife’s containment unit stands and stares at her, with Koonak joining him. Suddenly, a submarine surfaces through the floor of the lair, causing Nora’s containment unit to break open while Freeze is buried in the ice. Unaware of what has happened, a research team emerges from the sub and heads out into the ice and when they return, they find the sub and the entire crew completely frozen, just before they end up frozen themselves. Some time later, in Gotham, Batman and Robin manage to capture a pair of jewel thieves before Alfred picks them up so they can attend a charity fundraiser as Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson. While there, they run into Commissioner Gordon, who teases Dick about his relationship with his daughter Barbara, unaware that at that moment, Barbara, as Batgirl, is stopping some would-be rapists. When Barbara finally arrives at the party, Dick sees her and invites her out to the dance floor. Meanwhile, Dr. Gregory Belson is at the party and talks to his stockbroker, who had warned him about trading on the futures market and says he can’t help him now that he is almost financially ruined. Belson leaves the fundraiser but as he is leaving, the road and area are suddenly covered in snow and ice, causing him to lose control of his car. As he recovers from the wreck, he is approached by Freeze, who was an old colleague of his, and Freeze forces him to come with him. Some time later, Bruce leaves the party only to have his car stall in a massive puddle of water, next to Belson’s abandoned car. Meanwhile, Dick and Barbara head out onto the balcony to talk and Dick invites her out to attend a Jazz festival for the weekend, which Barbara accepts. Elsewhere, Belson examines Nora’s body and tells Freeze that she only has a few weeks to live due to the broken containment unit and the only way to save her life now is with a heart transplant. They head to the hospital but when there is no available organ, due to Nora’s rare blood type, Freeze tells him to find a live donor and they choose Barbara Gordon off of the list. Belson calls Barbara’s dorm room, saying there is an emergency, and her roommate tells him that she is at a restaurant before going out of town. Freeze and his two polar bears show up at the restaurant looking for Barbara, who surrenders so nobody gets hurt. Dick tries to stop Freeze but Freeze is able to get away with Barbara and Dick grabs a motorcycle and chases after them but Freeze uses his cold gun to cause Dick to wreck. Dick calls Bruce and Gordon, who meet him at the hospital where his injuries are being tended too. As Gordon organizes a search for Freeze and Barbara, Bruce waits until the nurse leaves to access the medical records and finds out the connection between Barbara and Freeze. Meanwhile, Barbara comes too and asks what they plan on doing with her. Belson attempts to give her a sedative but she attacks him and Belson chooses to wait and sedate her later but when they come back, they find that Barbara has managed to escape into the air ducts. Freeze and Belson go after her, and when Barbara finds herself in the room with Nora, they explain why she is there. Barbara attempts to escape but finds herself on an oil derrick in the middle of the ocean, with nowhere to go and is eventually recaptured. Back in Gotham, Batman and Robin continue trying to track Freeze and are pointed in the direction of Belson, and Batman remembers Belson’s car being abandoned in the puddle, which he now realizes was melted ice. They search his house, and then pay a visit to his broker for more information when Belson calls his broker. Batman and Robin record the conversation and after returning to the Batcave, Batman realizes where Freeze is holding Barbara. As the prepare to leave, Alfred tells them that the supplies Batman had given him to check on are for an organ transplant, and Batman realizes that the situation is more serious than they first thought. Back on the oil rig, Freeze and Belson go to take Barbara to the lab and prepare her for the surgery but Koonak, who had befriended Barbara, tries to stop them. As Belson shoves Koonak away, Barbara knocks Freeze into the bed holding Nora and is able to escape while he repairs the instruments keeping Nora alive. Belson chases after her and begins firing at her, puncturing some of the oil tanks on the rig. Suddenly, the Batwing appears and Robin jumps down to stop Belson but as he is knocked out, he reflexively fires another shot, which ignites the oil. As the oil rig starts to catch fire and explosions occur, Batman and Robin are forced to deal with Hotchka and Shaka, managing to lure them into jumping over the edge of the oil rig into the water below, and then attempt to rescue Barbara but Freeze shows up and traps them in the control room for the crane. Freeze attempts to recapture Barbara but an explosion pins him under some debris, breaking his leg. Belson attempts to escape as Barbara tries to help freeze, joined by Batman and Robin after they get free. Batman says they have to leave and Freeze says they have to save Nora, with Barbara saying they also need to save Koonak. Freeze uses his freeze gun to put out the fires in the stair well so Barbara can lead Batman to where Nora and Koonak are while Robin gets the Batwing ready for take off, barely managing to get airborne before the landing pad breaks apart, which crashes onto the escaping Belson. Batman and Barbara make it to the lab and rescue Nora and Koonak and try to make it out the stairs but the fires have started burning again and Freeze is unable to help as the fires are starting to overcome him. They head to the elevator and use it to get back onto the deck, with Freeze managing to help them. escape. Batman moves to help him up but Freeze tells him to rescue Nora and Koonak first, then come back for him. Batman does so and they manage to get onto the Batwing before the portion of the rig collapses beneath them, then Batman leaps down to try and rescue Freeze but Freeze ends up falling into the burning water below. As the fire consumes the oil rig, Batman uses a grapple to snag onto the Batwing and Robin flies them to safety, not noticing Hotchka and Shaka swimmign away, with Freeze clinging to their fur. Some time later, at a weather station in the Arctic, the researchers are watching a news story about Nora Fries successful heart transplant, which was funded by Wayne Enterprises. Unnoticed by the researchers, Freeze, with his leg in a ice cast, is watching the report and smiles as he cries tears of joy that his wife is alive, then he walks off to resume his solitary life with Hotchka and Shaka.

Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero met with positive reviews from the critics, holding a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, most of the critics felt that the animation and story were both good and did a better job with the characters than the live action movie. The movie was actually supposed to be released in July of 1997 as a tie-in to Batman & Robin but due to the poor reception of the live action movie, the movie ended up being pushed back and released in March of 1998. With the success of this movie in video sales and rentals, Warner Bros. green lit a third movie titled Batman: Arkham, where Batman and Robin would face off against a collection of escapees from Arkham Asylum, but the movie ended up being cancelled in favor of Batman Beyond: Return Of The Joker but the concept would later be turned into a series of successful video games.

This is a pretty fun movie to watch but I admit that it probably would have been better as a 2-part episode on the cartoon. The acting was good, with the voice actors from the show doing a good job reprising their roles. The story was decent but the plot was so compact and streamlined that made it feel more like a television episode rather than a movie. I know that sometimes less is more but in this case, I feel like a little more with the story could have made this a better movie. The animation was really good and did show some improvements at times from the TV show, especially in a lot of the background animation where they didn’t have to have a lot of action going around. A fun little diversion, and definitely better than Batman & Robin, but there was potential for it to be better.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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