action, comedy, movie, movie review, sports

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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action, comedy, movie, movie review, sports

Flashback Review: June 16th, 2014 Movie – The Cannonball Run

the cannonball run

I feel a little sad watching this movie right now, seeing as how Burt Reynolds has just recently passed away. However, this was actually the first Burt Reynolds movie I remember seeing as a kid so a happy memory kind of balances it out. Anyways, I remember seeing The Cannonball Run as a kid but I didn’t learn until years later that it was actually based on real events. That actually made it more fun for me to watch this movie a few years ago and just as fun to rewatch it today.

The plot: Two girls, Jill Rivers and Marcie Thatcher, are speeding down the highway in a black Lamborghini Countach, taunting a highway patrol officer that is trying to catch them before they cross the state lines. Meanwhile, J.J. McClure and his friend Victor Prinzim are discussing the upcoming Cannonball Run as J.J. works on getting their car ready. When Victor mentions “Him”. J.J. hits his head on the car’s trunk, then tells Victor he doesn’t want to see “Him”, or even talk about “Him”. Later, as they are test driving the car, they come across a police road block and swerve to avoid it but end up crashing their car. As the cops go to check on the drivers, Victor, wearing a cape and mask, emerges from the car and tells the cop that he is Captain Chaos and J.J. is his companion Kato. Later, J.J. and Victor are trying to come up with a new idea for a car to drive when they get into a boating accident and as they are being driven to the hospital in an ambulance, they realize that they can get away with speeding if they are in an ambulance. Elsewhere, Morris Fenderbaum is going to place a bet on himself winning the Cannonball Run and as the bookie laughs at him, Morris points out his driver, former Formula One racer Jamie Blake. Other competitors entering the Cannonball Run are Jill and Marcie, the two girls driving the Lamborghini, Seymour Goldfarb Jr., heir to the Goldfarb Girdles fortune who has begun to identify himself as actor Roger Moore from the James Bond films, Jackie Chan and Micheal Hui, two Japanese racers who are driving a high tech car filled with computerized controls, a Middle-Eastern Shiekh who wants to race against the infidels of America, and Terry and Mel, two good ol’ boys who want to race. Terry and Mel inadvertently crash their car into a pool while trying to avoid a police car and as they are re-tuning their engine, they inadvertently ruin an environmental meeting that Arthur J. Foyt is speaking at. Vowing to stop the Cannonballers from having their race, Foyt is talking with Pamela Glover, a photographer who was at the meeting because she loves trees, when two more Cannonballers, Mad Dog and Batman, crash into the front lobby and knock him out but J.J. and Victor arrive, disguised as Ambulance drivers, show up and revive him. Later, Foyt and Pamela are at the hotel bar when he realizes that most of the people there are Cannonballers and goes to make plans to stop them. Meanwhile, J.J. and Victor are discussing how to get a doctor and a patient to ride in the ambulance with them to complete their disguise. When they notice Jill and Marcie sitting at a table, they approach them about being their patient but are surprised to learn that they are Cannonballers as well. As J.J. turns away, he notices Pamela and goes to talk to her but as they are talking, he is interrupted by Victor and Pamela leaves the table. The next night, the Cannonballers are told the rules of the race, receiving a time card that they punch as they leave the hotel and must punch in at the finish line. Whoever has the fastest time wins the race. As the Cannonballers are all leaving, J.J. asks Victor where the doctor is and when Victor tells him that the doctor got sick, J.J. sends him out to get one. Meanwhile, Foyt and Pamela are watching the cars leave and trying to get all of their license plates but after Mad Dog drives through the woods as a short cut, he decides to try and stop the race now. Victor tells J.J. he has found a doctor but when J.J. opens the door, he is shocked at the appearance of Doctor Nikolas Van Helsing but is upset that they don’t have a patient. However, a little ways down the road, the see Pamela and Foyt in need of assistance and when they pull over, they grab Pamela but drive off before Foyt can get in the ambulance. As they make their way down the road, Pamela is upset about being kidnapped but Van Helsing gives her some laughing gas just as they are pulled over by police. J.J. tells the police that they are taking the Senator’s wife to UCLA Medical Center, and Van Helsing explains that her condition prevents her from flying and that they can’t even go to Denver because it is too high. As all of the Cannonballers make their way to L.A., they all use various means to try and get out of getting busted by the cops; such as Jill and Marcie using their sex appeal to get the cops to not write them tickets while Jackie and Michael turn off their headlights and use infrared to drive at night and not be seen. J.J. and Victor are still driving when Jamie and Morris, disguised as priests, pull up next to them and offer to bless them and their occupants. J.J. knows they are fakes but Victor falls for their trick and pulls over and as Jamie goes to bless them, especially Pamela, Morris lets the air out of one of their tires. J.J. and Victor fix the tire and get back on the road and as they stop for gas further down the road, J.J. sees Jamie and Morris coming and he alerts a nearby cop that they are disguised as priests and had flashed their patient earlier, causing them to be held up. Foyt is continuing his quest to stop the Cannonballers and has a roadblock set up to grab them but J.J. uses the CB in the ambulance to radio a flatbed truck in front of them and they are able to get past the roadblock under the truck and as they do so, Victor works on their transmission while J.J. and Pamela talk and get closer to each other. The race continues, with the Cannonballers encountering the police more and more, until they are stopped by road construction in the California desert. J.J., Victor, Pamela, Van Helsing, Jamie, Morris, Jill, Marcie, Mad Dog, Batman, Jackie, Michael, Seymour (with his latest girl) are waiting for the road to open up when Brad and Shakey Finch, disguised as a honeymoon couple on a motorcycle, pull up. Suddenly, a biker gang shows up and starts harassing Brad and Shakey and when Victor, dressed as Captain Chaos, rushes out and starts fighting the bikers, the other Cannonballers join in the fray. As the fighting continues, the construction crew lets Jamie know that the road is open and all of the Cannonballers race back to their cars. Victor had taken off his mask when he got back in the ambulance and as the ambulance falls behind the other cars, J.J. chastises him for it but Victor dons the Captain Chaos garb again and begins easily passing the other racers. When they reach the pier, Everyone starts racing to the clock and J.J. hands Captain Chaos their card, then tackles the other racers, leaving Captain Chaos and Marcie as the only runners. Captain Chaos is in the lead and about to win but when he hears a woman scream that her baby is drowning, he hesitates briefly before dashing off to rescue the baby, which turned out to be her dog. Marcie wins the race and as J.J. and approaches Captain Chaos, he chastises Victor and says that he cost them the race. He then rips off the mask and cape and tells Victor that he never wants to see Captain Chaos again but Victor says he doesn’t care, quickly donning a new cape and mask and says that he wanted to be Captain U.S.A. anyways, causing J.J. and the others to start laughing. As the Cannonballers celebrate, Foyt arrives and starts berating them for what they did on the highway. Seymour offers him a cigar and tells him to use the lighter in his car, as it is rigged as a button for an ejector seat but when nothing happens, Seymour tries it himself and ends up being launched into the bay.

The Cannonball Run was panned by more recent critics, currently holding a 29% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, most of them felt that the movie felt like nothing more than Burt Reynolds hanging out with some of his pals and cracking inside jokes with each other. Director Hal Needham and writer Brock Yates were actual competitors in the real Cannonball Race, which Yates had created, and the ambulance used in the film was their actual car from the last race. It had been kept in storage for several years and after the movie, it was given to a church charity to auction off. The movie was a box office success, earning $72.1 million off of an $18 million budget and would spawn 1 official sequel and 1 unofficial sequel.

Yet another time where I have to disagree with the critics because I thought that this was a pretty funny movie. The acting was good, with Burt Reynolds (J.J.) and Dom DeLuise (Victor) making for a great comedy team, as did Dean Martin (Jamie) and Sammy Davis Jr. (Morris), while all of the other actors were pretty good as well. I personally thought that Roger Moore’s character of Seymour acting like Roger Moore as James Bond was really funny, especially all of the subtle nods to James Bond that were in the movie, such as the Aston Martin that he is driving as well as the rotating cast of girls he has in the car with him. The main plot of the movie was honestly a little boring, with the idea of a coast to coast race being a little too straight forward. Adding the various bits of comedy to it definitely made it more entertaining in my opinion. The comedy in the movie kind of went the gauntlet of styles. Most of it was play on words while they also had situational, like Jill and Marcie showing cleavage to get out of speeding tickets until they get pulled over by a female officer, and slap stick, which Dom Deluise usually got the brunt of. One of those classic 80’s comedies that sometimes gets overlooked but is worth watching if you get the chance.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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