Street Machine - - Fanging Flick -

THE orig­i­nal Smokey and the Bandit from 1977 struck a real chord with the pub­lic, pop­u­lar­is­ing CB ra­dios, Pon­tiac Fire­birds and Burt Reynolds’s lux­u­ri­ous mous­tache in one fell swoop. Surely a sec­ond in­stal­ment could only be a win­ner? Well, er, yeah; you’d think. The win­ning in­gre­di­ents are all there – the car, the girl, the trucker friend, the an­tag­o­nist – but the spark just isn’t.

The Bur­dettes, those shonky boys from the first flick, are now cam­paign­ing to in­stall Big Enos as gov­er­nor of Texas. Af­ter a lit­eral mud-sling­ing match with their com­peti­tor, both can­di­dates are given a drub­bing by the cur­rent of­fice-holder: shape up or nei­ther will be en­dorsed.

Dis­cov­er­ing the out­go­ing gov­er­nor is hav­ing trou­bles get­ting a ‘present’ to the Repub­li­can Na­tional Con­ven­tion, the Bur­dettes con­spire to em­ploy Bandit and team to shift the crate of un­known con­tents. Trucker Cle­dus ‘Snow­man’ Snow (Reed) is all for the 1300-mile run from Mi­ami to Dal­las (a cut of the Bur­dettes’ $400,000 of­fer cer­tainly helps), but there’s one big is­sue: Bo ‘Bandit’ Darville is now out-of-shape and soaked in booze.

Snow­man finds Bandit wal­low­ing in his own filth in the skanky Gator Mo­tel, smarting from the loss of his girl­friend Car­rie, aka Frog (Field). A mirac­u­lously timed phone call sees Frog bounce out of her sec­ond at­tempt to wed the dim Ju­nior (Henry), rais­ing the ire of his fa­ther, Sher­iff Bu­ford T Jus­tice (Glea­son). Al­though there are only a few days to get the pack­age to Dal­las, we get a train­ing mon­tage where Bandit hits the weights, does some jog­ging and brushes up on his driving skills at the lo­cal go-kart track. Frog trades Ju­nior’s 1977 Pon­tiac Le­mans in on a brand-spankers 1980 Pon­tiac Fire­bird Trans Am Turbo, and the band is back to­gether.

It’s 35 min­utes into the film be­fore Bandit and the sher­iff face off; cue some south­ern ban­ter fol­lowed by a swee­t­arse jump, the kind that mes­merised you as a kid and now looks hi­lar­i­ous in high-def as the Trans Am flexes cat­a­stroph­i­cally upon land­ing and Sally Field is re­placed by a grin­ning man­nequin.

The crate, now dis­cov­ered to con­tain a preg­nant, full­sized ele­phant, causes the team to re­peat­edly pull over and stand around chat­ting, while Dom Deluise ap­pears from the back of an am­bu­lance to riff un­con­trol­lably in a faux-ital­ian ac­cent.

If you’re hang­ing for more car chases, for­get it; the truck­based fi­nale is ul­ti­mately un­ful­fill­ing, and the ex­trav­a­gant de­struc­tion of Dodge po­lice cars was han­dled so much bet­ter in The Blues Broth­ers, re­leased the same year.

But hold off on lob­bing the TV con­troller at Glea­son’s sweaty, over­sized head. The film holds a few note­wor­thy mo­ments; the di­a­logue between Bandit and Frog as he ar­gues his fad­ing sta­tus, de­scrib­ing him­self as “one of the most beloved grass­roots folk he­roes of Amer­ica”, is a stand­out, as is Bandit pre­sent­ing Frog with a copy of his seven-inch sin­gle, Let’s Do Some­thing Cheap &

Su­per­fi­cial, a record Reynolds re­leased in real life. And Burt’s red Trans Am jacket is wor­thy of the Smith­so­nian.


DON’T watch this solo; make sure there’s a six-pack for each viewer and start crack­ing the tin­nies. You’ll en­joy the odd un­der­car­riage-crush­ing jump, but don’t ex­pect non-stop ac­tion or a sen­si­ble sto­ry­line. We’ve upped it half a point since Burt’s pass­ing, based purely on the power of nos­tal­gia.

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