Last night, I gathered with some close friends to view the awesome splendor of Cannonball Run II.
It’s not often in life when you experience an evening that forever changes the way you feel about your place in the universe, but Cannonball Run II was the catalyst for just such an experience. I left the evening a changed man, and all thanks to that movie, which allowed me to behold the wonderousness of cars driving fast (and sometimes cars driving at a normal speed with the film footage sped up – the experience of watching this particular phenomenon is akin to the mind-bending journey through time and space at the conclusion of 2001: A Space Odyssey).
The man I have to thank for this life-changing event is a man named Hal Needham – a schlocky, third-rate stuntman-turned-director. He is close friends with a Mr. Burt Reynolds, having directed six movies with Burt as the star. All six movies were movies in which Burt drove a fast car, outfoxed the police, and had a mustache. The high point was probably Smokey & The Bandit (note: in no way should this be considered a high point in any person’s career) and the low was Cannonball Run II. Along the way Needham produced such gems as Stroker Ace, and Smokey & The Bandit II. I have viewed many of these movies, and it would be impossible to discern one film from another if it weren’t for the cars.
My own personal favorite element of Cannonball Run II was the degree to which Burt Reynolds mailed it in. Now, bear in mind the Burn Reynolds never had much of an intense screen persona to begin with, but here it giggles and chews gum throughout the entire film. He barely even drives the car – he just sits in back in a goofy outfit making out with a girl and lets Dom DeLouise do all the work. This was likely because Burt didn’t care to actually act, instead spending his time sucking down peppermint schnapps and groping Shirley McLaine.
Burt really didn’t look too good by this point either – his skin was a disconcerting shade of orange, and his hair (plugs?) looked like the hair from a defective Cabbage Patch Kid. He was looked like he was a few years past his expiration date as a movie star, to say the least.
So this morning, life feels different for me. I’ve now seen Cannonball Run II, and I’m emerged a changed man. Shortly, I will boast a fast car and a mustache. I will outrun the police until their cars comically overturn in the ditch. I will laugh at jokes that don’t exist. I will drive across the United States of America while never leaving the deserts of northern Arizona.
In short, I will live the American dream of the early 1980’s.