Smokey and the Bandit II (1980) – A Review
The Bandit is back!
After the smash hit Smokey and the Bandit there just had to be a sequel. There just had to be! And audiences got one three years later.
Instead of hitting the gas this follow-up loses control, spins out and crashes on the side of the road becoming one of the worst sequels you could imagine.
This time the whole gang is back – Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jerry Reed, Jackie Gleason, Mike Henry, Paul Williams and Pat McCormick and director Hal Needham returns for a followup to the highway adventures and a new challenge for Reynolds’ Bandit.
Once getting back in shape the Bandit has a new task to perform with Snowman, which is trucking an elephant from Florida to Texas. You read that right – an elephant. Fields’ ‘Frog’ has again left an upcoming wedding to Junior and begrudgingly reunites with the Bandit to lend a hand for this latest road adventure even after their relationship went sour.
Gleason’s Sheriff Buford T. Justice is back in his squad car trying to catch that ‘som bitch’ Bandit. This time he has some help from some fellow law enforcement relations that look strikingly just like Jackie Gleason! And for added laughs Dom DeLuise plays an Italian doctor.
A lot goes wrong right from the start. The original movie ended with the Bandit accepting the double or nothing challenge of driving to Boston to pick up clam chowder and returning to Atlanta in eighteen hours. Ok, sure you could think of it as a cute little throwaway line to end the movie on. However, that idea would have been a lot better than the one they came up with here.
The Bandit is now a drunk, apparently from being heartbroken over Frog leaving him. So, there’s some really bad comedy with Reynolds burping and falling over. There’s a training montage of him getting back in shape that lasts all of three minutes. It feels all so pointless.
Plus, the Bandit now has become a much more arrogant folk hero who basks in the glow of being loved by everyone. If he meets someone who doesn’t like him he gets awfully angry and wants to punch them. This is going to be his arc here and when he is able to swallow his ego Frog will fall back in his arms.
The journey the Bandit takes is in the form of a job by the Enos’ where he’s tasked to transport an elephant. I’ll never figure out how Needham came up with this idea. An elephant of all things!
Instead of just being a beer cargo that sits in the back of Snowmans truck while the story unfolds and we can have fun watching the characters and the chases, this damn elephant by the name of Charlotte gets more attention than everything else in this movie! There’s bad comedy and eye-rolling melodrama as Charlotte’s health is at risk by this trip. Will the Bandit find it in his heart to give up the money for the sake of Charlotte’s well being?
I am not making this up!
Actually, the slow, lumbering dumbo that’s weighing Snowman’s truck down is a perfect metaphor for what happened to this movie. An elephant is not something a ‘hot pursuit’ movie needs.
This is a terrible sequel. Reynolds is not playing the charismatic character he was in the first. There is real awkward comedy with sight-gags between him and the elephant. It’s amazing how all this happened! Field looks like she’s embarrassed to be there and is trying her best to go unnoticed. This was afterall a year after Norma Rae, so she was already starting to move on to better roles.
Reed is almost non-existent in this. He’s there, but he doesn’t have much to do as Bandits buddy. His contributions to the soundtrack leave more of an impact than him returning to his role as Snowman. His ‘Texas Bound and Flyin’ song is pretty good.
Gleason making a return is probably the sole highlight. He does a lot of repeating the same jokes from the first. And I don’t mean, ‘oh they did a similar joke in the original’. No. In some instances he recites the same exact dialogue he had in the original, but he does have a few moments. Somehow Gleason in this role is always good for a few chuckles. Him playing multiple parts…..well some fans might find it amusing I guess.
Dom DeLuise is awfully unfunny with his Italian accent and that damn elephant, ugh! I’m sorry I’ll just never figure out how they went from a truckload of Corrs beer to a pregnant elephant! This is like one of those old mythic mysteries that impassioned amateur investigators devote their lives to in attempt to uncover an answer!
Oh for goodness sake the syrupy sentimentality with this thing….just thinking about it makes my pulse race like Gleason’s in this flick.
The ending is a demolition derby-type of climax where the whole idea was I guess make it bigger, louder and more, more, more! Lots of cars get smashed up. If you like old school car crashes that might do it for you. To me I found it increasingly boring.
They should have just done the clam chowder run. It was already set up for them and it could have been a lot more fun than this! An elephant….what were they thinking?