Smokey and the Bandit ★★★

Truth: I had never watched this until Burt Reynolds died. Sometimes you just don't get around to stuff in time, you know?

Anyways, this one mostly gets by on charm, because it has to. I estimated that about fifteen to twenty minutes of its runtime are just driving montage scenes set to "Eastbound and Down" - and not even chase scenes for the most part. The editing is also pretty scattershot and even half a glance's worth of attention will have you noticing continuity gaps from shot-to-shot, and by the end you'll realize they were using different shots from different sequences to try and make the thing flow better (the status of Buford T. Justice's car is usually what gives it away, although sometimes it's whether Bandit or Carrie is driving the Trans Am).

But it's a pleasant diversion, is the thing, a throwback to when films could cheerfully present cops as foolish bullies without Fox News throwing a hissy that we weren't respecting Our Brave Heroes enough. (Granted, it's also an exercise in white privilege that Bandit gets to be a happy-go-lucky hero idolized by all and sundry, but that's a long essay I'm not going to get into here.) Reynolds was never more cool, Sally Field is adorable, Jerry Reed is a fun sidekick (and gets a great sequence wherein the moral might as well be "being the sidekick isn't as fun" - a very meta, 70s thing to throw into the movie) and Jackie Gleason completely irredeemable as the baddie (in a character sense I mean; in an actorly sense, he's hamming it up large).

It's never less than pleasant. On the other hand, it's rarely anything more than that. Still, sometimes that's enough.