Synopsis: Jump in and buckle up for a wild ride in the fast lane of laughter as Burt Reynolds and Sally Field team up again to take on Jackie Gleason in this sequel to one of the top action-adventure comedies ever! This time, the notorious Bandit (Reynolds) and his beautiful companion Carrie (Field) find themselves involved in a mission of epic proportions: transporting a pregnant elephant cross-country in 24 or less! Hot on their heels is archenemy Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Gleason), who vows to finally put the Bandit behind bars. The duo find themselves in a race against time, a battle of wits and a test of skills in this non-stop, high-octane comedy hit.
Two words: pregnant elephant
Not only does The Bandit have to drive a bloody elephant cross-country this time around, watering down his “outlaw” image to amuse the kiddies, but we also get to watch Burt Reynolds pretend to fall down drunk and try to remain sober. Comedy gold.
That set the tone very early on, and it only got worse as it went, eventually serving up three obnoxiously bad performances from Jackie Gleason – whom, I suppose, was considered a highlight of the previous film and was given a chance to play three characters in this one. Might as well jab an ice-pick under my toenails. While he was relatively amusing in the first one, gay and an RCMP equivalents to his Sheriff Justice were far too much cliché for me to stand.
Not only are Reynolds and Gleason blights on this film, but Sally Field jettisoned her natural, girl-next-door look for a more glamourous one in the sequel. I don’t really know why she did this – not only does it not suit the part, but it completely eradicated what made her appealing in the first place. Le sigh.
And they made her a numbskull to boot. Or maybe it’s just that the filmmakers treated the audience like numbskulls. It’s bad enough that Sally Field’s character is remarrying Junior, after having escaped him the first time, but there also happened to be a phone in the Church – so that the wedding could be interrupted by Cledus, looking to get her to help him get The Bandit back in shape. F-in’ hell.
The movie is so careless throughout, that I can’t even begin to recite a full list of its countless abominations, plot-wise and on a technical level. Just to give you an idea, though, there’s one scene in which The Bandit takes a jump and we see a massive wooden ramp behind him. MASSIVE. Obviously, it disappears immediately after when the next vehicle attempts the same jump; this ramp was not actually part of the story – it was seen clearly solely due to inept direction.
Basically, ‘Smokey and the Bandit II’ is to ‘Smokey and the Bandit’ as ‘Conan the Destroyer’ was to ‘Conan the Barbarian’. Neither were masterpieces (although I much prefer ‘Conan’ to ‘Smokey’), but their sequels managed to dumb things down to a degree that would have been unimaginable to the originals’ filmmakers. And audiences.
Seriously, the best part ‘Smokey and the Bandit II’ was the closing credits sequence, which features a bunch of outtakes. It’s not terrific, but after an hour and a half of nonstop roadkill, it’s like a breath of fresh air. Is it worth sitting through the whole picture for mere moments of quite average amusement, though? Not one bit.