Smokey and the Bandit II (1980)

smokeyandthebandit2

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The gang is back and so is Buford T. Justice in this sequel to the 1977 original that is as good as its predecessor, especially with the climatic chase scene heard round the world.

Since his challenge was met in Atlanta, the legend known as the Bandit has now faced a dilemma. He’s gotten too good for everyone and as a result, he has shut everyone out, including now ex-girlfriend Carrie and best friend Cletus. However, when Big Enos and Little Enos Burdette convince Cletus to get the Bandit to deliver a package for $250,000 to Miami, Cletus can’t resist but to get his old friend back in the saddle. As for Carrie, despite her feelings, she decides to go for the run for part of the cut.

However, one person who will not take this lying down is Sheriff Buford T. Justice, who after Carrie ditches Junior at the altar once again, decides to finally get even with the Bandit. That’s the least of Bandit’s problems. When Bandit and the gang learn the package in question is an elephant and a pregnant one at that, Bandit will go to great lengths to make sure the job is done, even if it means risking the relationships he had just rekindled with both Carrie and Cletus. However, as for Justice, he is going to need some help this time around if he plans to stop the Bandit once and for all.

Just when you thought there would be a one-off involving that crazy Smokey, Buford T. Justice, and the Bandit, think again. And this time, director Hal Needham and crew have upped the ante. This sequel to the 1977 classic is like its predecessor as it is another instant classic. The comic gags still work and they have decided to up the ante a bit on some of the car chases.

Burt Reynolds once again takes center stage as the Bandit while the legendary Jackie Gleason once again plays his archrival Sheriff Buford T. Justice. What makes this rivalry interesting this time around is that both Smokey and the Bandit seek redemption. For Bandit, it is about getting his fame back and with a prize of $250,000, he is willing to do what it takes to make sure the challenge is met. As for Gleason, it is about doing what he couldn’t do in the first film: catch the Bandit.

Once again, it is Jerry Reed and Sally Field as best friend Cletus and love interest Carrie who must do their job and ensure not only Bandit stay grounded and face reality but even try to get him to make sure the challenge gets done. The duo do not always agree with Bandit’s extreme methods to get the challenge done, but eventually the power of friendship in times of need seems to be imminent in some cases. Add Dom DeLuise as a doctor who is willing to help the trio out and brings the news of the elephant being pregnant! Mike Henry brings more to the table as Junior, Buford’s dimwitted son who continues to be his daddy’s comic foil to a tee. As if that’s not funny enough, Gleason himself not only plays Buford but plays two of his brothers, Canadian Mountie Reginald Van justice and the effeminate Gaylord Justice.

Which leads to the action in form of the car chases.  Once again, the car chases bring more fun to the film and to bring something extremely exciting and to perhaps, boost up the action of the original, enter the climax that consists of the Justice Brothers and their band of merry men taking on the Bandit that soon becomes one of the biggest demolition derbies when Cletus helps his friend out by getting some help in the form of fellow truckers who pull off a Breaker! Breaker! style sequence but replace a small town for the Justice gang.

Smokey and the Bandit II is just as fun as its original film. The magic between the core cast is still there and the car chase turned demolition derby is just fun to watch.

WFG RATING: A

A Universal Pictures production. Director: Hal Needham. Producer: Hank Moonjean. Writers: Jerry Belson and Brock Yates; story by Michael Kane; based on the characters created by Hal Needham and Robert L. Levy. Cinematography: Michael C. Butler. Editing: Donn Cambern and William Gordean.

Cast: Burt Reynolds, Jackie Gleason, Jerry Reed, Sally Field, Mike Henry, Dom DeLuise, Paul Williams, Pat McCormick, David Huddleston, John Anderson, Brenda Lee, The Statler Brothers, Mel Tillis, Don Williams, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Klecko, Joe Greene.

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