The Cannonball Run Review

This review was originally posted for the Ultimate Decades Blogathon 2021, hosted by Tranquil Dreams and me.


The Cannonball Run movie posterSynopsis
An eclectic group of racers take part in The Cannonball Run, a race from Connecticut to California.

Review
Look, I know The Cannonball Run might not have the best reviews out there, but you know what? I enjoy the hell out of it. Maybe it’s because this was one of the first films I had available on DVD so I regularly watched when I was younger. As a result, I might be tainted by nostalgia but there’s something about this film that keeps me coming back to it and laughing all these years later.

There are quite a few characters in The Cannonball Run and the movie tries to focus on as many of them as possible. These characters are varied and entertaining but because the film tries to focus on all of them, the first half of the film’s breezy hour and a half run time is spent before the titular race even begins as it introduces them all. Also because of the large cast, they get barely any development. Now unfortunately, this also applies to the main core of JJ (Burt Reynolds), Victor (Dom DeLuise), and Pamela (Farrah Fawcett). We do get to know more about them than those around them but it’s still the bare minimum. Given the caliber of the cast list, many of the actors and actresses are wasted, providing little more than what feel like extended cameos.

Given that the film centers around racing, it’s odd (or should it be no surprise?) that the pace is disjointed. As I said before, about half of the film is consumed on the setup. Then the next portion is spent jumping from racer to racer as they make their way across the country. Some of these segments are fantastic while others can be removed completely and it wouldn’t change the film in any way. Then it really slows down before (spoiler alert) becoming a foot race towards the finish line. The movie was shot quickly (it was filmed in 36 days and many of the actors only worked for two or three days) and it feels like much around the production was rushed as well.

Now, so far I have given only criticisms of the film but now I’m going to contradict myself. I said earlier that one of the negatives of this film was that the main characters barely receive any development. The Cannonball Run isn’t about its characters, it’s about the race. The race is an excuse to have a diverse cast characters, played by a who’s who of actors and actresses of the time. This variety is one of the film’s aspects that I enjoy the most. Not all of the actors bring their A-game but regardless, nearly all of them are loads of fun and I find their humor entertaining. And when the characters are being introduced, there are some truly memorable setups.

The gags continue all through the film. Some land spectacularly while others spectacularly miss. As I’ve said before about comedies, humor is very subjective. Meaning that if this isn’t your style of humor, you aren’t going to enjoy The Cannonball Run very much, especially since it doesn’t offer much else. But for me, the slapstick and gags throughout the movie is the kind of humor I enjoy, especially from this era of comedies.

I thought The Cannonball Run was GREAT ๐Ÿ˜€ Although this film came out a little before my time, I usurped my dad’s DVD of the film into my own collection when I was younger and watched it often; I couldn’t get enough of it! As I have watched this film more and more without the lens of youth and blissful ignorance, the flaws have become more apparent over time. Nonetheless, I still find myself coming back to The Cannonball Run and finding it good for some quick, cheap entertainment. Because of my relationship with this movie , I have come to sincerely understand that sometimes it isn’t about the quality of the film but your experience with it that makes it meaningful to you.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Hal Needham โ€“ Director
Brock Yates โ€“ Writer
Al Capps โ€“ Composer

Burt Reynolds โ€“ JJ McClure
Dom DeLuise โ€“ Victor Prinzim
Farrah Fawcett โ€“ Pamela
Jack Elam โ€“ Doctor Nikolas Van Helsing
Roger Moore โ€“ Seymour
Dean Martin โ€“ Jamie Black
Sammy Davis Jr. โ€“ Fenderbaum
Adrienne Barbeau โ€“ Marcie
Tara Buckman โ€“ Jill
Terry Bradshaw โ€“ Terry
Mel Tillis โ€“ Mel
Bert Convy โ€“ Brad
Warren Berlinger โ€“ Shakey Finch
Jamie Farr โ€“ Sheik
Rick Aviles โ€“ Mad Dog
Alfie Wise โ€“ Batman
Jackie Chan โ€“ Subaru Driver #1
Michael Hui โ€“ Subaru Driver #2
Joe Klecko โ€“ Polish Racing Driver
Norman Grabowski โ€“ Petoski
George Furth โ€“ Arthur Foyt
Peter Fonda โ€“ Chief Biker

National Lampoon’s European Vacation Review

National Lampoon's European Vacation movie posterSynopsis
The Griswolds, Clark (Chevy Chase), Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo), Rusty (Jason Lively), and Audrey (Dana Hill), take a vacation across Europe.

Review
Sequels are tricky to pull off but comedy sequels are even more so. The audience expects a certain sense of humor but that does not mean that the film can repeat the same jokes. Since the Griswold’s toured much of the United States in the last film, they are sent to Europe this time to give them a new playground to cause havoc in. This setting opens up plenty of new joke and gag possibilities while still maintaining the sense of humor that made Vacation so enjoyable. Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo return with the same fantastic chemistry they had in the previous film. John Hughes once again pens the script, this time with Robert Klane assisting with the screenplay, which highlights Chase’s and D’Angelo’s comedic talents. The two of them together makes the entire franchise so endearing and fun to return to.

The Griswold kids have been recast in this film due to Anthony Micheal Hall’s involvement with Weird Science, another Hughes movie filming around the same time. Jason Lively now plays Rusty and Dana Hill portrays Audrey. Lively does a good job picking up the reins of Rusty from Hall and Hill’s Audrey feels more relevant to the story but they don’t quite fill the shoes of Hall and Dana Barron from Vacation. The story takes place during a two week period and it tries to fit as many locations in as possible. As a result, the movie moves along pretty quickly and with a relatively short run time, around an hour and a half, European Vacation is over before you know it.

I thought National Lampoon’s European Vacation was GOOD ๐Ÿ™‚ Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo are yet again the shining stars. Expect much of the same type of humor as the last film but in a new setting. This film hits all the same notes that made Vacation entertaining and lovable but it doesn’t have the same highs and even has lower lows than its predecessor. It’s hard to catch lightning in a bottle twice but European Vacation tries its hardest.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Amy Heckerling โ€“ Director
John Hughes โ€“ Story / Screenplay
Robert Klane โ€“ Screenplay
Charles Fox โ€“ Composer

Chevy Chase โ€“ Clark Griswold
Beverly D’Angelo โ€“ Ellen Griswold
Jason Lively โ€“ Rusty Griswold
Dana Hill โ€“ Audrey Griswold

National Lampoon’s Vacation Review

National Lampoon's Vacation movie posterSynopsis
Desperate to spend time with his family, Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) takes his wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo), son Rusty (Anthony Michael Hall) and daughter Audrey (Dana Barron) and a cross country road trip to the theme park Walley World.

Review
The 80s was a great time for actor Chevy Chase and writer John Hughes. Given the long and storied careers these two would end up with, then of course it is no surprise that when these two collided almost 40 years ago, magic happened. Hughes based the script for National Lampoon’s Vacation on the short story “Vacation ’58” he wrote for an issue of the National Lampoon magazine. Chase, combined with an incredible cast around him and director Harold Ramis behind the camera, creates one of the most memorable films of the decade.

The first thing that makes this movie so entertaining are the actors; every one of the Griswolds is perfectly cast. Chevy Chase as the head of the family, Clark Griswold, never fails to elicit laughs. His deadpan delivery and slapstick comedy are timed perfectly. Beverly D’Angelo as Ellen, the Griswold matriarch, is fantastic opposite Chase; she plays off his comedy well and shines just as bright. The Griswold children, Anthony Michael Hall as the older sibling Rusty and Dana Barron as Audrey, the younger sibling, are just kind of there to go along for the ride. Hall seems to have the more stand-out moments than Barron but they both gel well with Chase and D’Angelo.

Chase, D’Angelo, and the rest of the cast wouldn’t stand out if it wasn’t for the excellent script they had to play with. This film is filled to the brim with wit and humor. I don’t think there was one scene that did not make me laugh, whether it was Clark’s antics or obliviousness, Ellen trying to keep her children and husband in line, or the Griswold children just going along with everything as best they can, there are jokes and gags galore. It gets even better when Randy Quaid as Cousin Eddie shows up, albeit too briefly. Hughes’ script is also very tight. Every scene has a purpose or sets up something that pays off down the line. It also keeps moving; with the amount of jokes and gags in each scene, the film never lingers on any one of them, constantly moving on to the next. This is what makes Chase such a wonderful fit because he expertly navigates from one gag to the next.

But what I really enjoy about this film is how it takes something simple, such as a family vacation, and turns it into a caricature. Something simple like asking for directions or visiting a cousin’s house is exaggerated and portrayed in a ridiculously over-the-top manner. Countless times I found myself laughing and saying to myself โ€œI can relate to that!โ€ The best movies find something for you to connect to, building an emotional bond between you and the film. Vacation finds those emotions and holds on tight, making sure you remember the film long after you’ve finished watching.

I thought National Lampoon’s Vacation was GREAT ๐Ÿ˜€ Really, what’s not to love in this film? Director Harold Ramis, aka Dr. Egon Spengler, brings writer John Hughes’ script to life with energy and nuance, highlighting the comedic talents of Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo. Randy Quaid is a hoot as Cousin Eddie, who has only a small role in this film but thankfully plays a bigger part later in the franchise. Vacation hits all the right emotional cords with its melodramatic take on the family road trip, drawing you in with its fun and relatable characters and keeping you engaged with Hughes’ trademark humor and heart.

Favorite Quote
Lasky: Has your father ever killed anyone before?
Rusty: Oh, just a dog. Oh, and my Aunt Edna.
Clark: Hey! You can’t prove that, Rusty.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Harold Ramis โ€“ Director
John Hughes โ€“ Writer
Ralph Burns โ€“ Composer

Chevy Chase โ€“ Clark Griswold
Beverly D’Angelo โ€“ Ellen Griswold
Anthony Michael Hall โ€“ Rusty Griswold
Dana Barron โ€“ Audrey Griswold
Imogene Coca โ€“ Aunt Edna
Randy Quaid โ€“ Cousin Eddie
Miriam Flynn โ€“ Cousin Catherine
John Navin โ€“ Cousin Dale
Jane Krakowski โ€“ Cousin Vicki
Christie Brinkley โ€“ The Girl in the Ferrari
John Candy โ€“ Lasky, Guard at Walleyworld
Eddie Bracken โ€“ Roy Walley

Ultimate 2000s Blogathon Kick-Off: EuroTrip (2004)

Hello, friends! Welcome to the fourth annual Ultimate Decades Blogathon! This year’s spotlight decade is the 2000s. Over the next few weeks, my wonderful co-host Kim from Tranquil Dreams and I will be posting reviews from our fellow bloggers highlighting their favorite films from the decade. Kim kicked off the blogathon on her site with her review of SPL: Kill Zone, which you should definitely go check out. Now it’s my turn to get things started! Here is my review of EuroTrip.


Synopsis
After Scott (Scott Mechlowicz) is dumped by his girlfriend at high school graduation, he decides to take a trip to Europe, accompanied by his best friend, Cooper (Jacob Pitts), to meet his pen pal, Mieke (Jessica Boehrs).

Review
As per usual for my opening entry of an Ultimate Decades Blogathon, here are several reasons why I think EuroTrip is an excellent snapshot of the first decade of the millennium:

  1. The technology. Early in the new century, everything was getting smaller and thinner. Cell phones were becoming more common and more pocket-sized even if still a little blocky compared to today’s smart phones. Also, computers were getting thinner, whether it was the monitors or laptops.
  2. The hairstyles. Many girls had shoulder-length hair and it wasn’t uncommon to see some highlights, especially in the bangs. Also at the time, it was popular for guys to use product to spike their hair or style it into a faux-hawk.
  3. The fashion. Throughout the film, you’ll find Jenny in many popular clothing choices of the time. She wears belly shirts, tube tops, capris, and boot-cut jeans. In terms of makeup, she also uses lip gloss pretty heavily.
  4. Meeting someone online. With more and more households getting access to the internet in the early 2000s, meeting someone online was becoming more widespread. Like today, there are many warnings about who the person is on the other side of the screen (as Cooper eloquently illustrated to Scott). While meeting someone online today is pretty common, given the popularity of dating apps and online video games, it was more of a novelty during the late 90s early 2000s. Because of the freshness of online communication during this time, many films that have this as a central part of the plot (You’ve Got Mail, EuroTrip, Sex Drive), can be found around this time period.

While EuroTrip was released in the height of films such as Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story or Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, it stands out by not utilizing the extreme slapstick humor popular at the time. It is most certainly irreverent, raunchy, and immature but what else would you expect from a movie about teens going on a road trip to get laid? As you might have guessed from the title, this movie is a road trip movie and the writers make excellent use of this format. Each scene is unique and filled with different gags and jokes. Different characters come and go, leaving their mark with what little time they have. Regardless of what extra characters are in the scene, Scott Mechlowicz, Jacob Pitts, Michelle Trachtenberg, and Travis Wester are absolutely hilarious. Their chemistry is what elevates this movie to pure comedy greatness, filling every scene to the brim with laughs. This film never takes itself too seriously, always letting the craziness and absurdity of the script flow. It knows it’s crude, it knows it’s vulgar. Why pretend otherwise?

I thought EuroTrip was GREAT ๐Ÿ˜€ It is exactly what you would anticipate from a teen sex comedy, so don’t expect anything groundbreaking. However, the cast elevate a great, even if predictable, script. If you’re like me and enjoy similar movies, such as Old School or Accepted, you’ll enjoy EuroTrip.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Jeff Schaffer โ€“ Director / Writer
Alec Berg โ€“ Co-Director / Writer
David Mandel โ€“ Co-Director / Writer
James L. Venable โ€“ Composer

Scott Mechlowicz โ€“ Scott Thomas
Jacob Pitts โ€“ Cooper Harris
Michelle Trachtenberg โ€“ Jenny
Travis Wester โ€“ Jamie
Jeffery Tambor โ€“ Scott’s Dad
Cathy Meils โ€“ Mrs. Thomas
Mial Iskhakov โ€“ Bert
Kristen Kreuk โ€“ Fiona
Matt Damon โ€“ Donny
Jessica Boehrs โ€“ Mieke
Vinnie Jones โ€“ Mad Maynard
JP Manoux โ€“ Robot Man
Patrick Rapold โ€“ Christoph
Fred Armisen โ€“ Creepy Italian Guy
Lucy Lawless โ€“ Madame Vandersexxx
Rade Serbedzija โ€“ Tibor


Stop by our blogs daily to see who shows up next and what they consider to be the ultimate 2000s film. Use the tag #ultimate00sblogathon to share your comments or entries for the blogathon on twitter. If you miss any of the entries, Kim is keeping an aggregated list on her site, which you can check out here.

Lightning Review: Dumb and Dumber To

Dumb and Dumber To movie posterSynopsis
When Harry (Jeff Daniels) learns that he has a long lost daughter, he and Lloyd (Jim Carrey) head go on a road trip to Oxford, Maryland in search of her.

Review
Dumb and Dumber is one of my favorite road trip movies and normally I would be eager for a (actual) sequel to a film that I consider to be one of my โ€œfavorites.โ€ However, going into Dumb and Dumber To, I can’t say that I was exactly excited to see it. As a result, my expectations weren’t very high, which I supposed helped since while it didn’t reach the low of Dumb and Dumberer, it was nowhere near as enjoyable as the first film. Thankfully, this film completely ignores Dumb and Dumberer, actually completely contradicting it at times. But that’s really the most positive thing I can say about this film. Its main problem is that lacks the heart that made the first film so entertaining despite its absurd premise. Dumb and Dumber To just feels absurd for absurdity’s sake. Since it is a sequel, especially a comedy sequel, there are plenty of call backs to the original that fans will recognize. The film wasn’t entire devoid of a few good jokes and I did chuckle several times but I couldn’t tell you any of them since they weren’t that memorable.

I thought Dumb and Dumber To was OK ๐Ÿ˜ An improvement over Dumb and Dumberer but not by much. While it has its moments and I did laugh a few times, it doesn’t have the charm or endearing qualities of the first Dumb and Dumber. What we have here is just another case of a studio trying to make a sequel to a beloved film and falling short.

Also read my reviews for Dumb and Dumber and Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd.

Favorite Quote
Harry: Wow. That is the single most boring sentence I ever heard.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Bobby Farrelly โ€“ Director / Writer
Peter Farrelly โ€“ Director / Writer
Sean Anders โ€“ Writer
John Morris โ€“ Writer
Bennett Yellin โ€“ Writer
Mike Cerrone โ€“ Writer
Empire of the Sun โ€“ Composer

Jim Carrey โ€“ Lloyd Christmas
Jeff Daniels โ€“ Harry Dunne
Rob Riggle โ€“ Travis / Captain Lippincott
Laurie Holden โ€“ Adele
Rachel Melvin โ€“ Penny
Steve Tom โ€“ Dr. Pinchelow
Kathleen Turner โ€“ Fraida
Bill Murray โ€“ Ice Pick
Brady Bluhm โ€“ Billy
Michael Yama โ€“ Harry’s Dad
Nancy Yee โ€“ Harry’s Mom
Grant James โ€“ Mr. Stainer
Taylor St. Clair โ€“ Mrs. Stainern
Eddie Shin โ€“ Gordy
Tommy Snider โ€“ Tom
Atkins Estimond โ€“ Gus
Don Lake โ€“ Dr. Meldmann
Tembi Locke โ€“ Dr. Walcott
Patricia French โ€“ Ms. Sourpuss
Lindsay Ayliffe โ€“ Professor Garabedian
Elizabeth Cooper โ€“ Mrs. Julie James
Paul Blackthorne โ€“ Emergency Room Doctor

Dumb and Dumber Review

Dumb and Dumber movie posterSynopsis
Lloyd (Jim Carrey) and Harry (Jeff Daniels) go on a road trip to Aspen, Colorado to return Mary Swanson (Lauren Holly) her briefcase after they mistakenly believe she forgot it at the Providence, Rhode Island airport. Meanwhile, Harry and Lloyd are pursued by two kidnappers (Joe Starr and Karen Duffy) who are also looking for the briefcase.

Review
Just by the name, Dumb and Dumber sounds like it is going to be a very outlandish film, with two bumbling idiots doing stupid and absurd stuff to create laughs that lack any actual comedy. That is partially correct. Yes, Dumb and Dumber follows two bumbling idiots who do stupid and absurd stuff to create laughs. However, what sets this film up for success is it is able to create characters that you can care about, root for and get behind, creating a film that is genuinely funny.

From the first introductions of Lloyd (Jim Carrey) and Harry (Jeff Daniels), the movie sets up exactly what you should be expecting from these characters, as well as the movie itself. When Lloyd asks a woman where she is from, and she tells him she is from Austria, he does an Australian accent and says some stereotypical Australian phrases. Harry is a dog groomer and decides the dogs should eat before going to their pageant, not realizing the drive would upset their stomachs. They are set up as dim-witted but good-natured characters. This is perfect for the movie because if they were simply dim-witted, there wouldn’t be any way or reason to really connect with the them.

Since this is a buddy movie, how well the film works rests solely on the shoulders of Carrey and Daniels. If there is any kind of kink in their chemistry, the film would fail. Thankfully, Carrey and Daniels are an absolute blast together. They play very well off each other. Carrey is exactly what you would expect out from him, especially from one of his earlier films. Daniels isn’t as much of a comedy actor as Carrey, especially around the time of Dumb and Dumber‘s release, but he manages to go comedy toe-to-toe with Carrey and they are both the better for it.

What I like most about Harry and Lloyd is their stupidity seems so nonchalant. Like I said before, they are set up as dim-witted, but they don’t realize they are that way. From the small things like misunderstanding what words mean, like Austrian versus Australian, to having the opportunity to be oil boys on a bikini bus tour but instead they direct them to somebody else. The script has all sorts of gags like that and there are many of them. It reminds me of films like Airplane! where the movie throws as many jokes out as possible with the expectation that the ones that miss their mark are forgotten quickly because the next one is already there.

I thought Dumb and Dumber was GREAT ๐Ÿ˜€ Despite being dumb, for lack of a better term, the two main characters are extremely likable. Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels play extremely well off each other, leading to some very quotable lines and memorable moments. If you like any of Carrey’s other films, especially his earlier ones like The Mask or Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, then you find a lot to love here.

Also read my reviews for Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd and Dumb and Dumber To.

Favorite Quote
Harry: Nice set of hooters you got there.
Mary: I beg your pardon.
Harry: The owls. They’re beautiful.
Mary: Oh, yeah. Are you a bird lover?
Harry: Me? Oh, no. Well I used to have a parakeet but now my main area of expertise is canines. Dogs to the layperson.
Mary: Thanks. I love dogs, too. So how are you involved with them?
Harry: Oh, you know, I’ve trained them, bathed them, clipped them. I’ve even bred them.
Mary: Oh, really? Any unusual breeding?
Harry: No, mostly just doggy style. One time, we successfully mated a bulldog with a shih tzu.
Mary: Really? That’s weird.
Harry: Yeah. We called it a bullshit.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Peter Farrelly โ€“ Director / Writer
Bobby Farrelly โ€“ Director / Writer
Bennett Yellin โ€“ Writer
Todd Rundgren โ€“ Composer

Jim Carrey โ€“ Lloyd Christmas
Jeff Daniels โ€“ Harry Dunne
Lauren Holly โ€“ Mary Swanson
Mike Starr โ€“ Joe Mentalino
Karen Duffy โ€“ JP Shay
Charles Rocket โ€“ Nicholas Andre
Victoria Rowell โ€“ Athletic Beauty
Joe Baker โ€“ Bernard
Hank Brandt โ€“ Karl Swanson
Teri Garr โ€“ Helen Swanson
Brady Bluhm โ€“ Billy
Cam Neely โ€“ Sea Bass
Felton Perry โ€“ Detective Dale
Brad Lockerman โ€“ Bobby
Rob Moran โ€“ Bartender