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The 100




Smokey and the Bandit II
(1980)
Reviewed by Roger M. Wilcox
Rating: 5 Beans

ee-haw! You got your ears on, good buddy? This sequel to the movie that gave the 1970s its obsession with CB slang (and which inspired _The Dukes of Hazzard_ and therefore the entire existence of The Nashville Network) stars Burt Reynolds, returning as the only character he's going to be remembered for.

As you may recall, in the original _Smokey and the Bandit_, Reynolds was a hard-drinkin' fast-drivin' good ol' boy, carrying the dubious honor of being able to outrun state police better than anyone. He was down on his luck, as the business of police car dodging had hit an economic slump. Suddenly, two white-clad moonshine dealers (or drug dealers or black-market goods dealers) popped out of nowhere and offered the Bandit (Reynolds) a buttload of money if he'd be willing to break his previous speed records with their latest haul. So, teaming up with his good buddy the Snowman, the Bandit raced across the highways, dodging the wrath of Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason) and exchanging cutesie slang words over the citizens'-band radio. He also made several passes at Sally Field along the way.

In this sequel, however, Reynolds is a hard-drinkin' fast-drivin' good ol' boy, carrying the dubious honor of being able to outrun state police better than anyone. He's down on his luck, as the business of police car dodging had hit an economic slump. Suddenly, two white-clad moonshine dealers (or drug dealers or black-market goods dealers) pop out of nowhere and offer the Bandit (Reynolds) a buttload of money if he'd be willing to break his previous speed records with their latest haul. So, teaming up with his good buddy the Snowman, the Bandit races across the highways, dodging the wrath of Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason) and exchanging cutesie slang words over the citizens'-band radio. He also makes several passes at Sally Field along the way.

In other words, I could have saved myself some cash and just watched the original _Smokey and the Bandit_ twice.

Oh, wait, there ARE two things this sequel does differently. First off, the climactic battle between the heroic forces of the Bandit and the evil forces of Jackie Gleason involves a whole fleet of 18-wheeler trucks smashing into police cars that talk ("The door is ajar", "Your front wheels are out of alignment", "You have just been run over by a semi", etc.). Secondly, the big heroic crowd-pleasing ending is missing. The Bandit does NOT cross the finish line on time. We do not get a big fanfare of country music hailing his success. Instead, the Bandit purposefully quits in the middle of his drive to impress Sally Field, who was morally opposed to the Bandit's profession. Gah. So now the Bandit is hen-pecked, too. Some hero.

I'm not at all surprised that Burt Reynolds didn't come back for _Smokey Is the Bandit, Part III_. Ironically, the third movie in this "saga" actually isn't as bad as the second. However, none of these three films can truly be enjoyed without being either half-drunk on bathtub gin, or a lifelong fan of _Hee Haw_. 10-4, good buddy, over and out.






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