Cannonball Run. Could a film more accurately encapsulate the competitive ass kickery that once consumed our culture? I think not. Let’s delve into the devolution of how us Americans interpret a race:
In today’s narcissistic, introspective society, metaphysical revelations tell us that in the end, the race is only with one’s self. There is no competition. We all run to the beat of a different auto-tuned song. It’s about the inner-journey, man.
Back in the early 2000’s, the winner of a race was anybody who had the guts to try. Everyone who dared step to the starting line was rewarded with a little trophy that said, “Participant!” The only way to lose a race…was to not enter one.
Back in the 1990’s, to even mention the word “race” was taboo, as hyper-sensitive honkeys were terrified some minority would take it the wrong way and sue them…or worse, accuse them of being a “racist.” Reginald Denny even stopped his truck for brick-wielding, rioting thugs in fear of being labeled a racist. He got his skull caved in, but proved that he was metaphorically color blind in the process… and became regular color blind after. I think America back then lost its since of humor (and Denny lost his sense of smell) because we ignored that we are a nation of diverse, beautiful people. Without getting too specific, some of us are great at math but can’t drive. Some of us are fantastic singers but go all bonkers when watching street magic. And some of us have all the money but age poorly and can’t dance. I think in the 90’s, we all tried to pretend these generalizations had no factual basis, and that made us a lame ass bland bunch of wusses.
But in the 1980’s, a race was exactly what it should be: One winner and a shit load of dust-eating losers. The title “honorable mention” carried the same weight as “Faggot,” and bronze and silver were relics of failure and shame. Back then, you didn’t race to learn about yourself. You didn’t race prove something to your daddy. You raced to win the fucking race, hello! It was done in the same vein as Oscar Wilde’s decadent bunch doing “art for art’s sake.” It was for the love of the action, nothing more. There was a level of purity in it. In the 80’s, there were winners, losers, and nothing in between. Gray area was for European poets and the morality of fucking your second cousin.
So that brings us to the movie, which is about a race, The Cannonball Run: an illegal street race from sea to shinning sea across this great nation of ours. There are no rules. Fastest time wins. Try not to die, get arrested, or lose. Those are the only suggestions. Now gentlemen, start your engines. But first, let’s take a look at our racers:
The Protagonists: Burt Reynolds and Dom Deloise team up to take on the world. Now I have to stop here to dissect their mustaches. Dom’s stach looks like Super Mario meets military dictator, and Burt’s is a cross between adolescent Mexican and latent homosexual mail carrier. That’s powerful. Put it this way, if their mustaches got together and had a baby, it would probably be a leather disco ball that grunts and has a 427 cubic inch V-8 that runs on after shave. They pick up two people along the way. One’s name is Dr. Van Helsig, a proctologist who got his credentials from taking night classes at the Knoxville Tennessee College of Faith Healing. When asked if he should bring his medical equipment, he extends his elongated 9 inch middle finger and says something to the effect of, “This is usually all I need!” He spends most of the film trying to fingerbang people up the ass and shooting himself up with morphine. Also joining them is Farrah Faucet, a tree-loving dingbat with a heart of gold and a brain of air. She’s a little seperated from reality, as evidenced by her constantly saying, “You know what I like most about trees…you can lie under them on a moonlit night with the breeze blowing…and then blow your brains out!” She spends a good chunk of the film fucked up on Dr. Van Helsig’s dope, which shouldn’t have been much of an acting stretch for her. It’s entirely possible that she never realized they were shooting a movie.
Car: This foursome parades around in an Ambulance, which is good because they can speed through towns under the guise of a medical emergency, free from judicial indictment. The downside is that this ride is a lot like a live Anna Nichole Smith: slow, top-heavy, and filled with meds.
The Rat Pack: Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin almost stole this film. This binge-drinking, fast-talking duo certainly stole my heart. Sammy, with the mannerisms of Izzy from “Miami Vice,” rambling like Bill Cosby high on pudding pops, and flaunting his giant Jew chain to claim that Yahweh is their co-pilot, provided constant yuks. Dean Martin, constantly on SDJ’s hip, playing a lush, crude pervert who slurred his way in and out of scenes with the slickness of a handsome fedoraed hipster at a drunk office party. Did I mention that they were both dressed as Catholic priests? Burt Reynolds at one point calls SDJ a “chocolate monk.” Rarely is a joke both racist and religiously offensive. We call that a two-fer.
Car: A red Ferrari! The pros are that it’s fast as fuck and will moisten panties; the cons are that multi-racial priests in a convertible Ferrari holding alcoholic drinks while speeding kind of sticks out.
007: Roger Moore playing himself, and doing it even better than Kareem did in Airplane. Whenever he was driving, the Bond music was playing, and he had a different random bimbo in his passenger seat every time. Classic Bond.
Car: Some shinny European ride; I think it was a Jag. The pros were that it was fast and filled with gadgets; the con is that the steering wheel is on the wrong side. Unless you’re delivering mail, get your ass back on your side of the pond with that slab you limey bastard.
The Nip Whip: This is the 80’s, you didn’t think the Japanese wouldn’t have a horse in this race did you? Our competitive capitalistic cohorts must be represented honorably. A young, horney, kung-fuing Jackie Chan takes the helm and puts his technologically superior country on his shoulders and drives with the discipline of an Asian and the balls of a roundeye. Occasionally, he gets in a situation more sticky than an anime body pillow on valentines day, but he always pushes a button and activates some gadget to get out somehow.
Car: Subaru hatchback. The pros are that it looks like a space shuttle inside, and a has a TV/VCR combo which plays porno. While Jackie is on a boring stretch of New Mexico highway, he takes the opportunity to rub one out. I’ve been there brother, except I didn’t almost crash my ride. You never close your eyes! I guess that’s harder if your eyes are already halfway closed though, so I’ll give Jackie a pass on that one. It also has a GPS and a rocket attached. The only con: the noise this car makes! Cars aren’t supposed to sound like that; it reminded me of a vibrator left on a glass table.
The Hillbillies: Terry Bradshaw and his brother (equipt with a speech impediment) team up to pursue racing greatness. We find that Terry can look like a fool without Howie Long’s condescension or Frank Caliendo’s impressions. This duo bumbles their way around to eventual failure, but they at least get stinking drunk doing it. Their backseat is stacked to the roof with Budweiser, proving without of doubt, it’s the drink of incestuous, peckerwood 4th grade drop-outs everywhere.
Car: Yes a fucking racecar, sponsored by Hawaiian Tropic of all things. The pros are that it’s fast, the cons are that in an illegal race where camouflage is key, you shouldn’t actually use a racecar! Little known fact: “Racecar” spelled backwards is “racecar”, and Terry Bradshaw spelled backwards is 47 Chromosomes.
CEO and the Fatman: Yes, this adventure seeking wall-street type dude enlists the help of the tubby founder of Shakey’s Pizza, and they team up on a motorcycle to try and win the whole thing. Last time an affluent adventure seeker and his fat friend embarked on an intercontinental motorcycle journey, it lead to bloody revolutions and shitty iconic t-shirts.
Car: Motorcycle. It’s cool because you can weave in and out of traffic, but the downside is that spending over two days pressed against another dude is something I wouldn’t want to do, unless I was freezing to death in some airplane wreckage in the Andes Mountains or that dude’s name was Clive Owen. Seriously, he’s a handsome guy; don’t judge me. I didn’t say I’d fuck him, only that if he asked me to go on a two-day motorcycle ride with him, I’d probably do it. No big deal. Let’s change the subject.
The Sheik: Boy, don’t you miss the 80’s when Arabs weren’t always thought of as terrorists and camel-fuckers. They were known as pushy oil tycoons who dressed like rich Jesus and talked like Russian mobsters. It’s interesting: in a decade known for tackiness, Arabs were thought of as gaudy and kitsch. That’s saying something. The Sheik in this film drives like a maniac and only wants to show these infidels how to push a luxury ride across our interstate system. I loved him. While picking up some fast food, he hands this fine piece of underage waitress ass a handful of greenbacks and tells her she should be in his harem. As he sped off, you could tell she was thinking it over. That’s how the next episode of Law and Order SVU should open.
Car: Rolls Royce. It’s fast, luxurious, and a downright beast. It even comes equipt with a Zack Morris telephone and nerdy western w.a.s.p. assistant in the backseat! The cons: nothing at all, it’s a Rolls.
The Hot Chix: Two super-hot 80’s broads dressed in glossy unitards, like the kind pornstars wear in the Star Trek porno parodies. They use their bodies to get out of dozens of speeding tickets by unzipping a little and showing some cleavage. They got issued more “warnings” than a trust-funded eight year old acting up in a supermarket.
Car: The sweetest ride known to man, a black Lamborghini! And it was driven like a mother fucker. Peelouts, doughnuts, and skid-stops. And knowing that hot chix were driving it kind of increased the boner factor (even though in real life we know it was probably penis-having stunt men behind the wheel because nobody would put a car worth that much money in the hands of a woman. If you let a woman drive a lambo, she will decorate the nearest tree with it and then stumble out the heaping wreckage and ask why there are three gas pedals)
The Cops: Now the cops weren’t in the race, but they were trying like hell to catch our contestants. Most of the police were of the keystone variety who couldn’t locate their own nutsacks with a nutsack locator. Some are fumbling idiots. Some are trigger happy goons, but what they all have in common is general ineptitude and incompetence. My favorite was a local sheriff running for re-election, and his banner flung across town read, “Re-elect Sheriff Sean ‘Kill a Commie’ O’Scandlon: God, Guns, and Guts Keep Us Safe From Hippie Nuts” He was so tea party before you needed hypertension and a misspelled sign to join.
Novelty Awesomeness: This film is filled with it, and I’m not going to ruin any scenes for you guys. For those who haven’t seen this movie, and I recommend you see it. You should watch this on a night you just feel like laughing. Open a sixer, kick your feet up, and prepared to be taken back in time, to an era where we didn’t take ourselves or our film so seriously. Planes, boats, and automobiles are wrecked, abused, and pushed to their limits. Racism, religion, cleavage, and the rule of law are treated with irreverence. There are no social messages. There are no pretentious cinematic elements. It doesn’t aim to be quirky. There is no pedantic hyper-awareness. There is no shame. And best of all, there are no apologies. It’s meant to entertain. The film is as pure as the race itself; it’s simply art for art’s sake.