When is a film not a film? When it's an ensemble piece for a bunch of actors who just want to have fun. The Cannonball Run's plot - if you can call it that - is that multiple racers are tasked with getting from Connecticut to the finishing line in California the fastest. Apart from the representative from the Safety Enforcement Unit trying to shut the race down, that's about it. Over thirty years later, the question is how well has it stood up to the test of time? Well, let's just say that you couldn't make this film today!
In addition to Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise, Roger Moore, Dean Martin and Farrah Fawcett, there is Sammy Davis Jr., Jackie Chan and Adrienne Barbeau among others who are all game for a laugh, which is handy as the film is just set piece after set piece. Moore enjoys sending up Bond, Martin and Davis Jr. show their classic shtick was still relevant, and Reynolds gurns his way through as he was apt to do in this, which was part of a continuous partnership with the director, Hal Needham. Imagine Clooney's Ocean's Eleven without a plot and you'll be in the right vicinity.
It tries to be wheelie fun, but the comedy has aged. Drink driving is an included joke, as is the fact that Reynolds pretty much kidnaps Fawcett and keeps her drugged in the back of his ambulance. There is rampant racism and misogyny aplenty.
But, and this is a big but, this kind of comedy was acceptable in the early ‘80s, and so whereas we'd be exhausted due to putting the boot into this if it was a new film, it escapes with us only cringing on occasion; after all, when this reviewer was a young lad, the transmission of this film was entertaining due to the stunts and the lack of complicated plot; at no point do they put the brakes on.
With its crisp Blu-ray re-release, you can transport yourself back to the days of acceptable unacceptability. There are a lack of extras, which is a real shame as it'd be great to get a commentary or at least an interview with Reynolds. Instead, we're given a couple of trailers and a short interview with Moore.
The entrance of Captain Chaos is still fun, and although the ending makes little sense - the racers separately clock in when starting the race, so why are they all running to get clocked in first at the end? It's not first across the line, it's who is fastest - this is a microcosm of the term 'they don't make like they used to'.
That might not be a bad thing, but this is still a throwback to simpler times.
THE CANNONBALL RUN / CERT: PG / DIRECTOR: HAL NEEDHAM / SCREENPLAY: BROCK YATES / STARRING: BURT REYNOLDS, DOM DELUISE, ROGER MOORE, DEAN MARTIN, FARRAH FAWCETT / RELEASE DATE: NOVEMBER 30TH