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Smokey and the Bandit Part 3
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by Jack Sommersby

"The Third Time is Most Definitely Not the Charm"
1 stars

One of the all-time worst sequels ever made, it tempts one to give up on movies altogether and take up bird-watching as an alternate form of pleasure.

No sane-minded individual would ever accuse the 1977 Burt Reynolds action-packed star vehicle Smokey and the Bandit of even remotely being a piece of high art, but it was such colorful entertainment that it was downright irresistible for us non-priggish moviegoers. Set in the Deep South and geared to appeal to “six-pack” viewers, it served up Reynolds as Bo “Bandit” Darville, a truck-driving hot shot whose specialty was high-risk, high-speed showing-off; accepting the challenge of the multi-millionaire Big and Little Enos to bootleg four-hundred cases of beer from Texas to Georgia in twenty-eight hours, he enlisted the help of friend Cletus (Jerry Reed) to drive the truck while he drove a brand-new black Trans Am as a “blocker” to intercept the pesky police officers of the highway patrol. After picking up Sally Field’s hitchhiking Carrie, who had just walked away as the bride to a nearby wedding, Bandit became the target of Jackie Gleason’s Texas sheriff Buford T. Justice, whose dim-witted son Junior Carrie was to marry and who relentlessly chases the Bandit throughout. Chock-full of spectacular stunts, gut-funny lines, and a spectacular supporting performance from Gleason, the movie was consistently amusing and (at least to this viewer) preferable to Jonathan Demme’s overpraised, similar-CB-radio-centered Handle with Care of the same year. The debuting director Hal Needham, a top-flight stunt coordinator, did surprisingly adroit work, and he and the same cast members returned for the 1980 sequel, which lacked the original’s freshness but managed to provide a fair share of laughs. The same certainly can’t be said for the wretched Smokey and the Bandit Part 3, which no one associated with it will be putting on their highlight reel, believe me. (Interestingly, the initial title was Smokey IS the Bandit, with Gleason portraying both the Bandit and Buford, but when test audiences gagged, Reed was brought in to shoot new scenes with him as the Bandit, and it’s difficult to believe this stink-a-roo could possibly be superior to what it replaced). This time, the Enoses challenge a recently-retired Buford to drive a police car with a huge plastic dolphin on the roof from Miami to Austin for a quarter of a million dollars to advertise their upcoming franchise of fast-food seafood restaurants, with the full intention of thwarting Buford every step of the way just for the fun of it; and to add to their pleasure, they offer Cletus the same amount of money to disguise himself as the Bandit, drive a Trans-Am, and steal the dolphin and make it to Austin. And the result is an outright disaster, whose innate awfulness should’ve been detected by even the most coked-up studio executive detoxing at the nearest Betty Ford Clinic -- it should be affixed with the label “not fit for human consumption.” Wild dogs shouldn’t drag you to this one.

There’s little use in assigning blame to either of the screenwriters Stuart Birnbaum and David Dashev (both making their debuts) since we’ve no way of knowing who was responsible for the discarded project and who should warrant a life sentence for this dreadful re-shot movie for all unfortunate eyes to see. Rather than linking character with incident, Smokey and the Bandit Part 3 merely spews a miasma of desperate comic situations that wouldn’t pass muster in the most extreme of avant-garde productions -- it’s almost as if the shooting days consisted of drawing random stuff from a hat and getting all of an entire five minutes to derive anything humorous from them. Scatological language can sometimes tickle the fancy on a guilty-pleasure level (I’ll never tire of Buford forever calling his son a “tick turd”), but here it eventually borders on bottom-barrel; and with eye-rolling quips by the dubious likes of “You attract more bugs than a fat man’s navel” you know you’re not exactly in the presence of something perpetrated by geniuses. In what is surely the nadir, Buford and Junior find themselves in a sleazy hot-sheet motel taking notice of the penicillin machines and commenting that the place should be holding a crabs convention what with its “Sodom and Gonorrhea” clientele; and just in case we haven’t found ourselves laughing ourselves silly at all this, the Enoses show up in drag-queen garb without anything particularly coming of it. (Is there no limit as to actors’ willingness to disgrace themselves for easy paychecks?) Perhaps if the action sequences were up to snuff, the proceedings would be slightly improved, but the director, Dick Lowry, a television veteran (admittedly showing some occasional adeptness with the 2.35:1 widescreen frame) overdoses on slow-motion and can’t give a car chase either creative choreography or coherent spatial logistics -- it were as if a subpar second-unit director had been entrusted to these while Lowry was off taking his lunch breaks. Reed, a country-and-western singer and natural screen performer who was incorrigible in the previous two movies and gave a galvanizing performance as the small-time mobster in the Burt Reynolds-directed Gator, is not exactly one for broad physical comedy, and his uncouth overacting here is really embarrassing to watch. As Cletus’s love interest, that acquired-taste Colleen Camp is a poor substitute for Sally Field, with Reynolds himself making a very brief cameo that’s been shot with a weird type of lens and sepia-colored lighting that make him look strangely octogenarian. Luckily, Gleason and Mike Henry (as Junior) still make an oddly endearing screen couple, even if the lack of good material doesn’t allow for the riotous give-and-take from before; perhaps instead of another abysmal sequel, a thirty-minute sitcom built around these two guys could be just what the doctor ordered.

For the first time on home video, the movie is available in its original widescreen aspect ratio, even if the DVD transfer isn't anamorphic.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=6969&reviewer=327
originally posted: 02/12/15 11:35:24
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User Comments

7/07/05 Gray sad 1 stars
5/01/04 jesse total crap is to good for this movie 1 stars
1/11/04 Sugarfoot So amazingly awful, I don't know where to start. 1 stars
10/29/03 Moparman Gleason's dialog is the best part of the entire movie! See it just for that. 4 stars
10/12/03 JimmyC wow, im embarassed that I even watched this movie 2 stars
8/30/03 earl hoffert smokey IS the bandit? no thanks, chester. 1 stars
8/22/03 Double G sucks 1 stars
3/21/03 jeniffer beal fan bloody tastic 4 stars
2/02/03 Sommersby Only decent bit is when Gleason calls his nitwit son a "tick turd". 1 stars
2/02/03 Charles Tatum So awful you will want to die 1 stars
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  02-Feb-1983 (PG)



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