A Broken Bandit
When I reviewed "Smokey and the Bandit" I called it a guilty pleasure because despite being devoid of so much I look for in a movie it was still entertaining. Unfortunately the same can't be said of the first sequel "Smokey and the Bandit II" or "Smokey and the Bandit Ride Again" as it is also known. This time around not only is it devoid of what I look for in a movie but it is also sparse on what few things that made the first movie so entertaining. Having said that "Smokey and the Bandit Ride Again" has strangely got better with age with a strange sort of poignancy about it when it comes to the relationship of Burt Reynolds and Sally Field.
With Big Enos (Pat McCormick) and Little Enos (Paul Williams) on the campaign trail to become Governor of Texas they persuade Cledus (Jerry Reed) and Bandit (Burt Reynolds - Hooper) to head to Miami to pick up a package for the existing Governor to get them on his right side. The trouble is that having blown it all Bandit is a lonely drunk and Cledus needs the help of Carrie (Sally Field - Beyond the Poseidon Adventure) to sober him up and get him in shape again, which means that Carrie leaves Junior (Mike Henry) at the alter again and his father Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason) angry again. To make matters worse when Bandit, Cledus and Carrie reach the docks they discover the package they are picking up is an Elephant and a pregnant one at that.
For the most "Smokey and the Bandit Ride Again" tries to recapture the magic of the first movie and that means quite a bit ends up feeling a rehash. We have Bandit, Cledus and Carrie on the road again trying to avoid Sheriff Buford T. Justice whilst also playing to Bandit being a bit of a Robin Hood style icon, popular with women and truckers. It is changed a bit and various stunts which escalate to a nicely comical western style ambush scene are good but it doesn't really spark in to life. Although there are some funny scenes featuring Bandit and Charlotte the elephant which end up quite cute.
But in a strange way "Smokey and the Bandit Ride Again" now works for a very different reason as it seems to also be making a statement about the relationship between Reynolds and Field. For anyone who has seen the interview that Burt Reynolds did with Piers Morgan will have heard him say that his failed relationship with Sally is his biggest regret and you sort of see that in this movie. You get a sense that Field's character of Carrie is speaking from the heart when she tells Bandit he is no longer the man she fell in love with and that he is no longer happy, addicted to the limelight. And at the same time you get a sense the looks between them are both of love and regret as in real life Reynolds and Field maybe knew it was over. It adds that extra almost poignant layer to things which wouldn't have been so apparent when first released.
Aside from that well to be honest "Smokey and the Bandit Ride Again" doesn't work as already mentioned it doesn't have the same spark as the first movie and much of that comes from restrained performances. The most entertaining performance comes from Dom DeLuise as an Italian doctor although most will remember it for Jackie Gleason giving us 3 characters. But the real star of the movie is the elephant which plays Charlotte who continually steals every scene she is in.
What this all boils down to is that "Smokey and the Bandit Ride Again" is a weak sequel which never recaptures the magic of the first movie. It is stil cute in places and watching it now it seems almost to be poignant as it plays out Reynolds & Field's troubled relationship but it doesn't make it any better.