Cannonball Run II is a 1984 American comedy film starring Burt Reynolds and an all-star cast, released by Warner Bros. and Golden Harvest. Like the original Cannonball Run, it is a set around an illegal cross-country race.
This was the last of the "formula" comedies for Reynolds. It is also marked the final feature film appearances of Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. Their appearances, coupled with those of Sammy Davis, Jr. and Shirley MacLaine, marked the final on-screen appearance of the old Rat Pack team.
Having lost the first Cannonball Run race, Sheik Abdul ben Falafel (Jamie Farr) is ordered by his father (Ricardo Montalban) to go back to America and win another Cannonball Run in order to "emblazon the Falafel name as the fastest in the world." When Sheik Abdul points out that there is no Cannonball Run that year, his father simply tells him to "buy one."
To make sure his ulcer does not prevent him from winning, the Sheik hires Doctor Nikolas Van Helsing (Jack Elam), who teamed with JJ (Burt Reynolds) and Victor (Dom DeLuise) in the first race as his in-car physician. Most of the participants from the first race are lured back, including JJ and Victor, who have taken jobs working with a flying stunt crew.
In a subplot, Blake (Dean Martin) and Fenderbaum (Sammy Davis Jr.) are in financial trouble with Don Don Canneloni (Charles Nelson Reilly), who in turn is in financial trouble with mob enforcer Hymie Kaplan (Telly Savalas). After the Sheik manages to bail out Blake and Fenderbaum by handing one of Don Don's thugs a stack of cash, Don Don hatches a plot to kidnap the Sheik in an attempt to extort money from him.
The race begins with JJ and Victor dressed as a US Army general and his driver, a private. They catch the attention of Betty (Marilu Henner) and Veronica (Shirley MacLaine), who are dressed as nuns for a musical, but remain in character and hitch a ride with JJ and Victor when they think the guys could become overnight millionaires. They do not lose their habits until later.
Other racers include Mitsubishi engineer Jackie Chan, teamed with a giant behind the wheel (Richard Kiel) in a car—a Mitsubishi Starion—able to go under water. In a red Lamborghini (white at first) with "two great-looking chicks in it" (as the cops chasing them continually say) is the duo of Jill Rivers (Susan Anton) and Marcie Thatcher (Catherine Bach). Another team (Mel Tillis and Tony Danza) is accompanied by an orangutan, who at times appears to be the driver. They are pulled over at one point by traffic cops Tim Conway and Don Knotts.
JJ and Victor stop along the way to help a stranded soldier, Homer Lyle (Jim Nabors). They also get much better acquainted with their passengers, Betty and Veronica, who change into something a little more comfortable.
After Don Don's gang capture the Sheik, the racers band together to invade Don Don's "Pinto Ranch". JJ, Victor, and Fenderbaum infiltrate it in drag, dressed as belly dancers. Others barrel in by car and rescue the Sheik, who is reluctant to leave, since he has his pick of women there. The three "dancers" and Blake go to their Leader (Frank Sinatra) to seek help, only to have him jump into the race himself.
In the end, the Sheik bankrolls Don Don's Ranch and then declares that he is upping the stakes to $2 million for the winner. All jump into their vehicles and make a dash for the finish line, avoiding traffic patrollers on the way.
The Sheik, as it turns out, loses yet again, this time blaming the doctor who rode with him for injecting him with an unknown substance. But he convinces his father that he will win the return-trip race, having hired the winner of this one. It turns out to be the orangutan with a penchant for destructive behaviour and giving elderly ladies the middle finger.
- Burt Reynolds as J.J. McClure
- Dom DeLuise as Victor Prinzi/Captain Chaos. DeLuise also appears uncredited as Don Canneloni.
- Dean Martin as Jamie Blake.
- Sammy Davis, Jr. as Morris Fenderbaum
- Jamie Farr as Sheik Abdul ben Falafel
- Ricardo Montalbán as King Abdul ben Falafel
- Telly Savalas as Hymie Kaplan
- Marilu Henner as Betty
- Shirley MacLaine as Veronica
- Susan Anton as Jill Rivers
- Catherine Bach as Marcie Thatcher
- Foster Brooks, Sid Caesar and Louis Nye as the fishermen in the rowboat
- Jackie Chan as Jackie Chan, Mitsubishi engineer
- Richard Kiel as Arnold, Jackie's driver
- Tim Conway and Don Knotts as California Highway Patrol officers who pull over the driving monkey
- Mel Tillis as Mel (back from the first film) and Tony Danza as Tony, the limo drivers with the orangutan
- Jack Elam as Doctor Nikolas Van Helsing
- Charles Nelson Reilly as Don Don Canneloni
- Michael V. Gazzo as Sonny, Don Don's Henchman
- Alex Rocco as Tony, Don Don's Henchman
- Henry Silva as Slim, Don Don's Henchman
- Abe Vigoda as Caesar, Don Don's Henchman
- Jim Nabors as Private Homer Lyle, a parody of his popular character, Gomer Pyle
- Molly Picon reprises her role of Mrs. Goldfarb, Seymour's mother. In this film, Cannonballers drive into her house.
- Frank Sinatra as himself.
- Joe Theismann as Mack, the truck driver who helps out Jill and Marcie
- Shawn Weatherly as the girl in Jamie Blake's bed
- Dale Ishimoto as a Japanese businessman
- Arte Johnson as an "ace" pilot Victor says is "from World War 2," who speaks with a telltale German accent
- Fred Dryer as a California Highway Patrol sergeant (listed in the opening credits as "Fred Dreyer")
- Chris Lemmon as a young California Highway Patrol officer
- George Lindsey as Uncle Cal
- Doug McClure as The Sheik's servant, an out-of-work actor who hasn't had a series in nine years
- Jilly Rizzo as Jilly
- Dub Taylor as a sheriff
- Director Hal Needham appears uncredited as a Porsche 928 driver in a cowboy hat, whose car is crushed flat in the movie by the monster truck, Bigfoot (Driven by owner/creator Bob Chandler)
After the tenth highest 1984 opening weekend of $8.3 million Cannonball Run II slowed down, becoming the 32nd most popular 1984 film at the U.S.A. and Canada box office with a total lifetime gross of $28 million, less than half the takings of the first Cannonball Run.
Cannonball Run II was met with harsher reviews than its predecessor, with a 14% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on reviews from 14 critics. Roger Ebert gave the film half a star out of four, calling it "one of the laziest insults to the intelligence of moviegoers that I can remember. Sheer arrogance made this picture." Ebert's co-host of the TV show At the Movies Gene Siskel also gave a harsh review of this film, calling it "a total ripoff, a deceptive film - that gives movies a bad name." Siskel even named it his least favorite film he had seen during his time doing At the Movies with Ebert.
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- Movie stills