Smokey and the Bandit II (1980)
"The Bandit is back and better than ever!"
All the crew from the original is back in town for this sequel. The nice part about this is there are a lot of familiar faces, and characters that we get to see some new tidbits about. Will the road runner (Bandit) escape that devoted coyote (Justice) yet again, or will the law finally have it's day? Either way, it ought to be a real hoot.
Plot takes off some time after the original. Seems Bandit and Carrie have had a falling out, with Carrie going back to her dancing career for a bit and then going back to Texas to marry Junior (lawman Justice's son) again (guess what, it get's interrupted again!). Cledus is doing quite a number racing his rig and winning himself some prize money, when he becomes approached by the Enos duo again for a big job should he know where Bandit is. The gang gets back in town and ready to go, thanks to a bunch of montage, and whisks off to get the package with which they are to deliver.
When they arrive, that's when the trouble starts - the package is in quarantine for weeks (and they have days to get it to it's destination). Sneaking in later, they decide to steal the package, only to find out that the package happens to be an elephant . Thus begins their journey anew, after it turns out that the lady elephant has taken a liking to Bandit and listens to him rather well. Along the way, more hijinx happen between the crew and the elephant, as well as more cop appearances. Will the crew arrive on time, or will continual setbacks spell the end of a successful legend? I could tell you, but then you wouldn't have much of a reason to watch it for plot would you?
Characters here feel a bit deeper in some instances, particularly around Bandit who gets a bit deeper fleshed out thanks to his relationship and interactions with the rest of the crew. It's not necessary for the enjoyment of the movie, but it's also something that's appreciated considering how the original didn't really focus nearly as much on any real show of character outside of face value. The main cast is increased by a few characters (if you include the elephant) although the trade off seems to be that less unique truckers appear to balance it out. Overall, it really makes it feel that its a story more focused on Bandit this time, instead of the actions of Bandit and his crew.
Audio here is still predominantly country, with some influences of the Bandits legend although not nearly as much so as the first. Lines are still delivered as well as the first, without any sounds really overriding dialogue you may want to hear, and it does a good job of still capturing the energy and excitement of what's happening onscreen. Of note, there is also a few other styles of music involved, such as one of Justice's Canadian relatives who shows up to help out (in Texas, yeah I was a bit confused) to a fancy little opera piece between him and his female ride-along (wife?). It's incredibly goofy, but if nothing else the soundtrack makes no misleading queues as to how goofy this movie is supposed to be (especially at the end).
Which of course leads me to the biggest thing about this sequel : It is way more silly than the original. I'm not sure if it was intended (it had to be though, this kind of goofy doesn't generally happen on accident) or not, but from the audio to the action on screen, it just feels that all they really want is to go over the top and silly. It starts with some prank-warring between the Enos' and their rivals for governorship, keeps rolling with the elephant, escalates with a super-stereotyped Italian doctor, and by the time it hits the end it might as well be a live-action cartoon. Now, this isn't necessarily a bad thing, as the original wasn't always serious by any means, but that level of silliness (cars driving while in half and the likes) could potentially turn some folks off to it.
All in all, I did enjoy watching the movie. The cast certainly seemed to have fun with the film, and the energy of things going on are enough to get you to feel appropriately (mostly laughing) for what it wants. If you only had the option to watch one of them, I would say go with the first (I mean, it obviously sets up the characters) because personally I find that Bandit is much more likeable in the first. Either way, if you are looking to just sit back and have some straight stupid fun, it's a rather good candidate to fill that spot.