Friday, July 16, 2010

Smokey and the Bandit II

There are two reasons people want to watch Smokey and the Bandit. Reason 1, to see a man with a mustache drive a black Trans Am recklessly. Reason 2, to see Jackie Gleason swear and play a jerk cop. Smokey and the Bandit II, unfortunately, decides that the main reason people want to watch a Smokey and the Bandit movie is to watch some bad comedy. This is an erroneous assumption.

The story must be a meta commentary on the production. Jerry Reed is eager to do a silly run like in the first movie for muchos dineros. Burt Reynolds is a washed up drunk coaxed into another race in order to further his fame and fortune. Sally Field - who is introduced in a way that must have been commentating on her contract negotiations - also wants money. And Jackie Gleason plays so broad that he has to play three different characters. There's also a literal elephant in the room, perhaps referencing the metaphorical one, that nobody besides Jerry Reed wanted to be there.

It's a retread, and a bad one. There's a dearth of car stunts - no black Trans Am until 25 minutes in, not even a stunt until 47. Everyone is visibly annoyed and wanting to be somewhere else - with the exception of Reed, who actually seems to be enjoying himself, as though he just likes to be on camera. There's really only one notable stunt sequence - though it's a biggie, with what looks like hundreds of cars destroyed - but until we get there we've got a lot of pointless elephant-based drama, bad comedy.

I liked that the relationship between the Field and Reynolds characters collapsed between films, that was believable. It seemed like the natural conclusion, as they had nothing in common and a relationship forged in high stress circumstances. I also like that it made fun of Reynolds' ego a lot, since it's clear he's got a big one. I didn't like how even with a pointless story it didn't really have an ending - it seemed like they just ran out of movie - I didn't like how it tried to setup an even more awful sequel, but more than anything, I didn't like that it didn't do what it says on the box.

Nobody cares about anything but the stunts with this kind of movie, and the first one realized it. This either didn't have the budget or the effort needed to do what it says on the box. If you're going to do an unnecessary sequel, at least keep doing what made the first one so... decent. Don't turn it into a bad comedy, that's forgetting why people watch in the first place.

Good lord, there's another one of these things?