Smokey and the Bandit II (1980) – Review

1/2 Star

People often ask, “What’s the best movie you’ve ever seen?”. They never ask, “What’s the worst movie you’ve ever seen?”. That is a lot easier to name check, on that short list of terrible cinematic experiences is Smokey and the Bandit II, arguably the worst sequel of all time. This anemic follow-up to the smash hit of 1977, has virtually the same plot, gags, and stunts as its well-liked predecessor. It’s easy to shrug off the criticism and suggest this movie is a product of its time, but even in 1980 audiences deserved better writing, directing, and acting from a blockbuster sequel.

Bandit (Burt Reynolds) is rescued from the depths of drunken despair by his ol’ buddy, Snowman (Jerry Reed). The pair is enlisted by the Ennis brothers to deliver a crate from Miami to Texas in 3 days time. Once again they are accompanied by Bandit’s ex-girlfriend, Carrie (Sally Field). As in the first movie, Carrie leaves Junior at the altar to hitch up with Snowman and Bandit. Enraged at the continual betrayal, Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason) vows to track down the rascal Bandit and retrieve Junior’s runaway bride. On the road from the Big Orange to the Lone Star State, the trio outwit the dim Sheriff and encounter a variety of real-life celebrities.

Smokey and the Bandit II plays similar to the Cannonball Run movies, Reynolds’ breaking the fourth wall and Dom DeLuise’s riffing are hallmarks of that lesser series. The movie is so thinly plotted that the specifics are fuzzy even while its playing out. I recall some chatter about the animal being a present for the Republican National Convention. This is the kind of lazy, unfunny farce that is the definition of a cash-grab. It may have grossed untold Millions, but tripe like Smokey II helped topple the one-time box-office king from his perch.

Director: Hal Needham
Stars: Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jackie Gleason

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