• Cannonball Run II

    Released by: Umbrella Entertainment
    Released on: November 1st, 2017.
    Director: Hal Needham
    Cast: Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Marilu Henner, Shirley MacLaine, Jamie Farr, Frank Sinatra, Jackie Chan, Henry Silva, Richard Kiel, Charles Nelson Reilly, Tony Danza
    Year: 1984
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    The Movie:

    When 1981’s Cannonball Run proved a hit, it was only a matter of time before a sequel was made, and so it was in 1984 when director Hal Needham got back behind the camera with most of the key cast members along for a second ride.

    The story this time? There’s not much to it, honestly, but it involves the son of a mobster, Don Don Canneloni (Charles Nelson Reilly), needing to collect on a debt owed to him by Jamie Blake (Dean Martin) and Morris Fenderbaum (Sammy Davis Jr.) so that he can pay off a different mobster named Hymie Kaplan (Telly Savalas). Blake and Fenderbaum decide they’ll come up with the money and then some by entering another Cannonball Run once again hosted by Sheik Falafel (Jamie Farr), who is out to win this time, given that he shamed his family when he didn’t win the first time around.

    And of course, J.J. McClure (Burt Reynolds) and Victor Prinzim (Dom DeLouise) are out to win the race for themselves, disguised as military men escorting a pair of nuns (Shirley MacLaine and Marilu Henner) to the east coast. It won’t be easy though, because there’s lots of competition – Arnold (Richard Kiel) and Jackie (Jackie Chan), the two Lamborghini babes (Catharine Bach and Susan Anton), two dudes (Tony Danza being one of them) and their orangutan, and quite a few others. And of course, there’s the usual threats along the way – cops (Don Knotts and Tim Conway), hitmen (Henry Silva and Alex Rocco) and plenty more.

    Plotless? Pretty much. But when I saw this as a kid at the drive-in it made me laugh a lot. It was rated PG but it was dirtier than it should have been. Not too dirtier, but dirtier than a nine year old kid expected. And that made it all the more fun to watch. As an adult, it more or less holds up. Again, story is not a strong point here, this is all about the cast and seeing that cast put through a series of dopey gags. As this is a Hal Needham movie there are some chase scenes and there is some stunt driving but this all comes second place to the goofy joys of watching Reynolds and DeLouise lead the rest of the stars on a cross-country misadventure.

    As to how much humor you’ll get out of it, well, that’s obviously subjective but if the first movie tickled your funny-bone this sequel stands a very good chance of doing the same, because it works on the exact same level. Creativity is obvious only in the execution of some of the sight gags, not in the characterizations or basic plot. But hey, it works and it works well. Turn of your brain, grab a bowl of popcorn and enjoy this one for what it is.


    Umbrella Entertainment presents Cannonball Run II on a 25GB Blu-ray disc using what would appear to be a master created by Fortune Star in 2010. Presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and framed at 1.78.1 widescreen, it looks good – but it never hits reference quality levels. Colors look okay, if sometimes a little flat, while detail is decent but rarely outstanding. The source used for the transfer was clearly in nice shape – there’s only the occasional small white speck, no serious print damage. It’s on the soft side for sure, a new scan would have helped, but this looks alright – definitely better than the old DVD.

    The only audio option for the disc is an English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track, there’s no lossless option here, unfortunately. It sounds fine for what it is, but it hardly takes advantage of the format. Regardless, dialogue is clean enough and there are no problems with any hiss or distortion. The music and effects might have received a boost from a DTS-HD or even LPCM option, but that didn’t happen.

    No extras at all – not even a menu!

    The Final Word:

    Cannonball Run II is plotless, but it’s also a whole lot of fun. Worth seeing for the cast alone, there are a lot of good gags here, enough to keep you laughing throughout, as corny as they might be. Umbrella’s disc is barebones and it’s hardly demo material, but it does offer a modest upgrade in the transfer department over the old DVD edition.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!