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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Cannonball Run II (1984)



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The Cannonball Run was a bad movie whose badness was, at times, kind of fun. Cannonball Run II is just plain bad, period. The humor is in much the same spirit as the first film -- it's a retread in every negative connotation of the term -- but rather than being the kind of cheesy fun the actors and the audience can have together, it's a forced exercise in which nobody has any fun at all. Well, if the cast did, it doesn't show.

The star power in Cannonball Run II boggles the mind. Many are returning cast members from the first film -- Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise, Jack Elam, Jackie Chan, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr., for example -- and then there is Shirley MacLaine, Sid Caesar, Tony Danza, Ricardo Montalban, and Marilu Henner. (As if this cast was not star-studded enough, a pair of mobsters are played by actors that bear a distracting resemblance to Boris Karloff and Chevy Chase.) What could have attracted these people to this project? The waste of talent is astonishing.

The real race in this film isn't which car can travel from California to Connecticut first but which star can descend from respect to humiliation fastest. Few escape unscathed. Telly Savalas probably survives best; not coincidentally, he's one of the few allowed to play a straight character. Don Knotts elicits the film's only laugh in a scene with Tim Conway that dissolves into stupidity too quickly for the bright spot to last. The biggest tragedy, though he survives the brief role itself, is that this film contains Frank Sinatra's last film appearance.

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