We've all been there; Browsing in Blockbuster, the HMV sale or the bargain-DVD section in Sainsbury's, and we come across a plastic case which gives us an involuntary tingle of excitement. Someone's made a sequel to that movie we like! How did this slip under our radar? Why wasn't this on at our local cinema? Why are we only hearing about this now? Well, there's only one way to answer that question; it involves spending the requisite £3 and usually ends with the question 'Why did this get made, never mind how?'.
The rules for selection are as follows: 1) The film needs to be a poorly received sequel to a generally successful film (so no crap sequels to crap originals, and no crap remakes of originals), 2) Films from longer series are fine, but the choice needs to be part two of that line, 3) I'm not intending to watch any of the associated part-ones as part of this run (whether I'm familiar with them or not), so there'll be extra pressure on the crap sequel to work on its own terms. So join me as I delve into some of the crappest, most unwarranted follow-ups of all time (hopefully with a couple of underrated, misunderstood gems thrown in).
How bad can it be, right? I mean, the original was good…
#CrapSequels: Cannonball Run 2
Cert: PG / 106 mins / Dir. Hal Needham
Year: 1984 (3 years after the first movie)
The general feeling: RT Score: 13% / IMDB Score: 4.7
This film was released in the same year as Ghostbusters. Think about that for a second.
Apparently the first Cannonball Run film was so groundbreaking, so unprecedented, so genre-redefiningly successful that a sequel was commissioned forthwith, reuniting the very best of the cast of the original whilst drafting in fresh new talent on both sides of the camera to keep things bitingly dynamic throughout. I imagine so, anyway, since I haven't seen the first movie. It can't have been as shit as this one, otherwise only an imbecile would want to draw attention to it by following it up.
The film spends 45 tedious minutes (re-)setting up the Cannonball Run race and its comedically disparate contestants, before finally becoming a live-action version of The Wacky Races re-imagined by the SNL writing team (which I assume is the point, to be fair). Hal Needham's cinematic disaster features the mannerisms and timing of jokes, but with none of the actual jokes. I know that comedy is subjective of course, but the phantom-punchlines to each setup here seem to have been pencilled-in with a side note reading "Come back to that one in next draft". The cast look bewildered and embarrassed in equal turn, with the exception of Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise, who (to their eternal credit) are actually playing the roles as if they're in a proper comedy film. But still without the actual jokes, of course.
With glib generalisations and sarcasm at the expense of Arabian, German and Chinese characters, it's the most casually xenophobic film I've seen for quite some time. Although caucasian Americans don't exactly come out of it smelling of roses, either. That said, I'm probably taking the whole thing far too seriously, on account of it consuming just under two hours of my actual life. I will never get that time back.
Cannonball Run II is a remarkable achievement, being a racing-comedy sequel that won't satisfy fans of racing, comedy or sequels.
Loses a point for having the sheer fucking audacity to show an out-take reel during the end credits. Like comedy films do.
Warning: features an ongoing lazily-written pastiche of The Godfather, starring actors who were actually in The Godfather. Do not watch if you like The Godfather.
Well it's not rocket-science, but I imagine the shit-ness of this sequel would be lessened slightly if you'd already sat through the first installment.
Reynolds and DeLuise return, as do Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, and various others old, wise and ugly enough to know better.
A third film (Speed Zone aka Cannonball Fever) was made in 1989, featuring none of the cast of this or the previous film (from what I can tell). It was critically loathed on largely the same level as its predecessor(s).
What kind of state would your life need to be in, where you'd consider watching this film now?
Not that I heard.
Was Dean Martin always this an atrocious an actor, or was he in a particularly difficult place in 1984? He looks like he's about to start crying in every scene he's in...
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
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