There have been lots of dumb and unnecessary sequels throughout the history of Hollywood, but "Smokey and the Bandit Part 3" was sure a doozy. Really, a second "Bandit" movie was too much, but at least the sequel had the entire cast back and was funny at times. Neither can be said about this film.
Like with most bad movies, the whole central thesis of this film is wrong. Here, the crime is screwing around with story continuity. Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason) is entertaining as a foil for the Bandit, but making him the main character is just insane.
The "plot" to this little travesty is that Justice and his simpleminded son Junior (Mike Henry) must transport a plastic shark cross country that's going to be the mascot for Big and Little Enis Burdett's new fast food franchise in exchange for $250,000. However, the Enises intend to make his life miserable by impeding his progress at every turn, and even enlist the help of Cletus "The Snowman" Snow (Jerry Reed) to impersonate the Bandit and try to steal the fish away.
Along the way, Justice acquires a big, ugly female admirer, gets involved in motor hijinks, and tries to steal back the fish from Cletus and Dusty Trails (Colleen Camp),a former used car salesman who hooks up with the faux Bandit for no discernible reason other than it's in the script.
All right, at this point you're going "WTF?" and rightly so. This whole film is a mess. How can a movie filled with stunts and action scenes be so boring? Very, very easily. Just put together filmmakers with no talent or vision, give them a script that's hackneyed at best, and let 'er rip!
The movie is filled with stupid and pointless scenes. A long sequence feature Ku Klux Klan members attacking two black truck drivers is tasteless and poorly realized, and is indicative of the movie's general theme -- crude sequences thrown together with little rhyme or reason.
The only part of the movie that made me laugh was a brief sequence where Buford and Junior Justice are in a hotel room filled with sexual deviants, and each time they open door Buford comments on the situation. "Looks like a union meeting," he mentions, followed by "Get away from that or you'll get the herpes!" which are both just as stupid as anything else in this movie. An opening sequence spoofing "Patton" made me crack a smile, but that was all.
Reed is simply awful in the role of the Bandit, and plays the role like a third grader who got the part of a lifetime and can't stop gleaming. Maybe someone should have told him that being proxy to a legend isn't a compliment.
And of course, the big question is: WHERE IS BURT REYNOLDS? The answer? AS FAR AWAY FROM THIS MOVIE AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE! Heck, compared to this, "Cannonball Run 2" is a masterpiece. And yes, it did hurt to say that.
Gleason should have known better, but still, any moment he's on screen is a welcome relief in this turkey. His Southern-baked comments are old hat but this time, but at least they remind of you of a time when his character was actually entertaining. And he sure beats the endless amount of screen time eaten up by Paul Williams and Pat McCormick extra corny dialogue as the Enises. They're just bad. Really bad.
In the only inspired moment of the movie, Reynolds shows up in a brief cameo dream sequence near the end, almost like a bone being tossed to the audiences who stuck it out through the whole film. The scene isn't funny, but it shows that there is some sort of epic relationship between Smokey and the Bandit. The sequence belonged in a better movie, but sadly, that will never happen now.
What else? Oh yeah, what can you say about a race movie so bad that even Hal Needham won't direct it? His replacement, Dick Lowry, seems to have no particular talent of his own, and justly returned to directing television shortly after. Screenwriters Stuart Birnbaum and David Dashev worked on one more movie together, the 1987 comedy "Summer School" which is actually pretty good, but never wrote another script. I suppose it's best to bow out with something good on your resume.
One final note -- there is apparently a whole different version of this film where Gleason plays both Justice and the Bandit that test audiences were not very fond of. Reed was added for new footage to fill the gaps, which explains why he doesn't even show up until half an hour into the movie. I doubt the first version could have been worse than the finished product.
The first "Smokey and the Bandit" was at least a fun experience. This is just a third rate rip-off, even going so far as to shamelessly steal scenes from the first movie, only redoing them in horrible fashion. This whole movie is a lifeless, by-the-numbers effort, and completely devoid of any true redeeming qualities. Unless you really enjoyed the first two movies and have some sort of sick curiosity, I suggest you avoid this abortion of a movie at all costs.
Two out of ten stars. A sad waste of Gleason's talent in the final years of his life, and now thankfully a largely forgotten motion picture.
Smokey and the Bandit Part 3
Action / Comedy / Crime
Smokey and the Bandit Part 3
Action / Comedy / Crime
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Big Enos and Little Enos have opened a seafood restaurant and want to promote it in their usual fashion. The Bandit is unavailable this time, though, so they enlist Buford. "Trigger" is brought out of mothballs, a large fish is strapped to the roof of the car, and the new Bandit is on his way on another wild cross-country run. But where there is the Bandit, there is Sheriff Buford T. Justice.
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