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Revisiting the Madcap The Cannonball Run

Plot: Contestants in a cross-country car race from Connecticut to California include a speed-loving racing driver disguised as an ambulance driver and his dimwitted sidekick, a pair of Ferrari-driving priests, and a James Bond-type character kitted out with secret weapons. Jackie Chan appears in one of his first US film roles.

If ever there’s a movie that wouldn’t get made today it’s The Cannonball Run; it’s so refreshingly un-PC that I think modern audience members would likely have strokes while watching. There are racial stereotypes galore and I think the worst has to be Jackie Chan who plays a “Japanese” racer (despite being from Hong Kong) in this live-action Wacky Races.  Any time he and his racing partner (played by Michael Hui) come on screen it plays this “Asian” music which is totally offensive… but hilarious at the same time.

The Cannonball Run has one of the best casts you’ll ever see including Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise, Roger Moore, Farrah Fawcett, Sammy Davis Jr. , Dean Martin, Peter Fonda, Adrienne Barbeau and many more.

Jack Elam steals the movie as Doctor Nikolas Van Helsing, a (cross eyed) proctologist and graduate of the University of Rangoon, and the Knoxville, Tennessee College of Faith Healing. Any time he appears this huge pipe organ plays and he can’t seem to help himself giving people the finger.

Roger Moore mocks his James Bond persona and is just a joy to watch; I do miss him in movies. RIP, sir.

As a kid I always loved Dom DeLuise as Captain Chaos who was a creation of his character Victor Prinzi after he was fed up of being bullied when he was 9 years old.

So enough about the great cast, what about the action? Well this is one of those great car movies of old so we have some great chases but also spectacular stunts so if this did get made today it would likely be done using CG.

Jackie Chan does get one moment to shine during a mass brawl between our racers and some bikers where he kicks some ass and shows us his moves which is probably my favourite scene of the movie.

It has this Devil May Care attitude which never takes itself seriously and is pure harmless fun. I love how everyone is drinking beer while driving and everyone is distracted by hot women and their bewbz so yeah, there’s no way this would be made today.

Considering its age however, The Cannonball Run is still hilarious and we were laughing from beginning to end; it has some great outtakes during the credits which only adds to the entertainment value.

It’s all ridiculous stuff but I still love The Cannonball Run; it had been many years since I last watched it but it remains a firm family favourite of ours. The second movie has a lot of the main cast returning including Burt Reynolds and Jackie Chan (but is the inferior movie) and is the perfect drunken double bill.