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Cannonball Run

December 27, 2015

Cannonball Run (1981)
Director: Hal Needham
Actors: Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise, Farrah Fawcett

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Synopsis: A group of assorted crazies take part in the clandestine car race across the US known as ‘The Cannonball Run’.

Review: For some obscure reason, Cannonball Run became a seminal part of my childhood eighties movie-watching alongside the more obvious nostalgia candidates of Beverly Hills Cop, The Goonies and Back to the Future. So when my brother brought along a DVD of the film this Christmas time, I was immediately curious to compare the film’s actuality from its hazy, refracted collage of associations and recollections in my mind.

Not that the film has an especially exalted reputation anyway, but I can see how it irked more earnest critics back when the film was released. It is unquestionably lazy, conceited, and even it’s own plot hook of a coast-to-coast illicit road race is somehow thrill-free and half-hearted; I guess its closest contemporary relation is the strangely anaemic Soderbergh-Clooney neo-Rat Pack endeavours of the Ocean’s trilogy from Ocean’s Twelve on.

Cannonball Run exists somewhere in-between being a last bastion of an ‘old boys’ Hollywood comedy, versus offering a wry send-up of those values. It is at various times sexist, racist, irreverent and full of stars looking like they’re having an awful lot of fun – more, ironically, than any intended audience is likely to! If one can relax into the laconic mood of the piece, it has its charms. Roger Moore spoofing his Bond persona is far funnier than Moore’s turns in the actual Bond movies, and you’d have to have a very sour disposition not to enjoy Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr’s hilarious, booze-sozzled turn as ageing playboys dressed as priests and riding a ferrari. (December 2015)

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