We here at JPFmovies have consistently maintained that rarely is a sequel as good as the original. Smokey & the Bandit II only adds to the mounting evidence proving this unfortunate fact. Sure, once in a while you’ll get a sequel that is as good or better than its predecessor, however, never count on it, and certainly don’t count on it in this film.
We have already reviewed Smokey and the Bandit giving it high marks for Gleason’s outstanding portrayal of Sheriff Buford T Justice, Burt Reynold’s smart ass—even arrogant lines that don’t turn you off and of course, Sally Field as the frog.
While Gleason does the best he can to carry this film it sure isn’t enough. In fact, I’m shocked that director Hal Needham who sold more Trans Ams than all the dealerships combined could put his name in such a pathetic movie. Not only does most of the original cast appear in this film, but we also have the added “treat” of Dom DeLuise playing a gynecologist who takes care of an elephant.
Smokey and the Bandit II is a retread of the first film, while simultaneously completely ignoring it. Here we have the same situation: a proposition by the Enos’s, Bandit and Cledus hauling a load in a short amount of time, Bandit also having the bride ride along shotgun, Justice and his son-in-law in hot pursuit, a Trans Am, and country music galore (including a brief appearance by the Staler Brothers). Yet, the more it takes from the original masterpiece, the less it feels like a real movie. This is a film made for either little children or idiots, with some of the most tired gags and dopiest schmaltz ever injected in a chase flick.
Now that you know how I really feel about this movie, let’s look a little deeper at this monstrosity.
Big Enos Burdett (Pat McCormick) is running for Governor of Texas against another candidate, John Coen (David Huddleston). After a figurative and literal “mud and manure slinging” between the two, they are given a thorough tongue-lashing by the sitting governor. While Burdett is leaving the office he overhears the governor yelling at an assistant to take responsibility for transporting a crate from Miami to the Republican Party convention in Dallas. To try and win favoritism from the existing administration, he enlists the help of Bandit (Burt Reynolds) and Cledus (Jerry Reed) to carry out the task.
Cledus then attempts to convince the Bandit to “do it one last time.” Unfortunately, in the time since their previous challenge, the Bandit has split from his love interest Carrie aka “Frog” (Sally Field) and become an alcoholic. In fact, little Enos correctly describes Bandit as being in the shit house. Cledus is forced to seek the help of Frog to encourage the Bandit to sober up and regain his fitness, since Big Enos has raised the stakes of the game to $400,000, equal to $1,128,271 in today’s dollars. Once again, Frog abandons her wedding to Buford T. Justice’s (Jackie Gleason) son Junior (Mike Henry) to help by getting a phone call (long-distance of course) just before she is about to take her vows. She is initially persuaded more by the money than her love for Bandit. She buys him a 1980 Turbo Trans Am named “Son of Trigger,” powered by the Turbo 301, by trading in Junior’s car.
Unbeknownst to them what’s in the crate is a large pregnant elephant that they are supposed to get from Miami to Dallas in a short period of time. Of course, the mother elephant gives birth en route, causing a rift between Bandit and the rest of the team because he is obsessed with making the deadline.
Because Gleason is having problems catching Bandit he enlists the help of his two brothers (also played by him) to try and apprehend this scofflaw. Justice lures the Bandit into a valley, with a line of Mounties (in red police cars) on one hill side, Texas Rangers, in white cars, on the other. Bandit orders Cledus to continue delivering Charlotte to Dallas. Cledus later returns, with a convoy of trucks to help destroy all of the police cars. Charlotte and the doctor watch the action from afar. After the mass destruction of police cars, only Buford, Gaylord, and Reginald come out relatively unscathed. Bandit and Cledus escape the valley by driving across a bridge of tractor trailers. As the Justices follow, a trailer pulls out resulting in their cars falling down and being destroyed. However, Buford’s car is still operable, though folded up in the middle and missing its doors and roof. Justice and Junior are cut off by a farm tractor, and they drive off the road, hitting an embankment by a pond, throwing Junior into the pond. When asked what he was thinking about, Buford simply says, “Retiring.”
The only decent thing about the scene is that a world-record automobile jump was captured on film during the “roundup sequence,” when stuntman Buddy Joe Hooker jumped a 1974 Dodge Monaco over 150 feet. Hooker suffered compressed vertebra as a result of a hard landing. He is one lucky guy.
Of course, Bandit finds himself again and he and the Frog sail off into the sunset– so to speak.
Smokey and the Bandit II is a movie that could only result at the end of a bender mixed with some sort of hallucinogen. Attempts to be cute only lead to embarrassing corniness, in this egregiously annoying follow-up that has the same cast and character names, while no one plays the same person they were in the first film. The final insulting wad is eventually shot in a ludicrous showdown between the cops and a bunch of renegade semis, and the only real loser is us, the unfortunate fans viewing it. And unfortunately I remember seeing this movie in the theater so actually I had to pay for it.