Sunday, June 14, 2020

Smokey and the Bandit: Movie review

I watched this movie for the first time ever yesterday. First off, the leading lady (Sally Field) isn't attractive enough to be the female star of such a big-budget Hollywood blockbuster. Just my opinion.

The movie itself is entertaining for the full runtime: 96 minutes. If you ask me, 90-99 minutes is the perfect length for a movie. Any longer and I start to lose interest.

The film is surprisingly realistic. Disbelief is suspended while Reynolds does 130 mph in a Pontiac Trans Am for 90 minutes straight, whilst conducting conversations with the film's co-stars. It never seems fake. Re-releases of the film have inauthentic car sounds dubbed in. I watched an original version, with the real Trans Am sounds.

The movie is based around a car chase scene. While modern films rely on effects like super slow mo, and computer graphics to enhance scenes like this, "Smokey and The Bandit" shows you don't need all of that for a compelling story. There are a couple of major car "stunts," but these are more-so improbable than impossible. Most of the time it's quick-thinking from "The Bandit" when the police are eluded, rather than a major Hollywood stunt.

Anyone who has driven a similar route to the one "The Bandit" takes on during the movie can confirm the film is visually accurate. I recently drove through Mississippi, Alabama, Virginia, all the way down South, and several of the rest stops looked just as they do in the film, which was released in the late 70's.

As for what goes on inside the car, the interactions between Sally Field and Burt Reynolds are kind of strained. Field isn't much of a seductress, but rather, willing to give in to whatever "The Bandit" asks of her. I guess there is a touch of 'Girl Power' in the movie, when Field's bride-to-be character takes the wheel of the Trans Am. "The Bandit" does call his hitch-hiking lady-friend "Frog," though, which comes off as less-than-endearing. Reynolds isn't much of a looker, either, if you ask me. It's not quite James Bond and Twiggy on screen, and I guess that's supposed to add authenticity.

The Snowman, who is Burt Reynold's sidekick, has some good scenes by himself. At one point during the movie, he faces adversity at a truck stop. Why was this included in the film? Was it a message to the audience that not every truck stop is a friendly place to stop? Or was it a way to express that the "Snowman" isn't as quick-thinking as The Bandit?

The other major star of the movie is Jackie Gleason's sheriff character. His performance is both humorous and quotable. He never breaks character which is impressive considering how outrageous "The Sheriff" is as a fictional police chief.

Overall, the car scenes are great, and the rest stop scenes are just as interesting. The film moves at a rapid pace. It's both enjoyable and lighthearted. Definitely worth watching, and there's replay value for all of the one-liners.

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