1 1/2 Stars
The wheels have finally fallen off of the car-themed pictures of one-time box office king Burt Reynolds. The Cannonball Run II is the fifth collaboration between Reynolds and director Hal Needham, while this sequel is a better product that the original Cannonball Run, the absence of any artistic intent, or comedic by-play ranks this as one of the worst in Reynolds’ vast trove of cinematic turkeys.
Still reeling from his loss in the cannonball run Sheik Falafel (Jaime Farr) is sent back to America by his disappointed father to once again put up one million dollars as a prize for an illegal cross-country road race. This time the Sheik plans to win his own race and gain the approval of his over-demanding parental figure (Ricardo Montalban). Competitive driver J.J. McLure (Burt Reynolds) and wingman Victor a.k.a. Captain Chaos (Dom DeLuise) enter the competition in hopes of claiming the title and cash prize. Meanwhile, the sheik becomes mixed up in the mafia’s pursuit of Jamie Blake (Dean Martin) and Morris Fenderbaum (Sammy Davis Jr.). But when the sheik is kidnapped by money-hungry gangsters, the contestants must come together to help him.
The main difference between parts I & II is that the first time Reynolds and DeLuise disguised themselves as paramedics in a souped-up ambulance, this outing the pair are costumed as Military personal and driving a hearse. The cast of stars from Sinatra to Jackie Chan make the best with the thin material presented to them. This picture may have been the last ‘hit’ of Reynolds’ career, but it actually cemented negative stereotypes that would haunt the screen idol for the next decade and a half. Rumors swirled that Cannon Pictures attempted to lure Burt back to the franchise with a big payday in the late 1980’s, shockingly the good ‘ol boy finally realized the ride was long over. An un-official sequel Speed Zone was released in 1989 featuring the Sheik. If you missed that one, count yourself 90 minutes richer.
Director: Hal Needham
Stars: Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise, Dean Martin