The Cannonball Run (1981) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Cannonball Run (1981)



Critic Consensus: Cannonball Run casts a bevy of famous faces as its wacky racers but forgets to give them characters to play, resulting in 90 dull minutes that feel like a marathon.

The Cannonball Run Photos

Movie Info

A group of oddballs compete in a wild and illegal cross-country car race.


Burt Reynolds
as J.J. McClure
Roger Moore
as Seymour Goldfarb, Jr.
Dom DeLuise
as Victor Prinzim / Captain Chaos
Farrah Fawcett
as Pamela Glover
Dean Martin
as Jamie Blake
Sammy Davis Jr.
as Fenderbaum
Jack Elam
as Doctor
Jackie Chan
as Subaru Driver No. 1
Peter Fonda
as Chief Biker
George Furth
as A.F. Foyt
Michael Hui
as Subaru Driver No. 2
Bianca Jagger
as Sheik's Sister
Molly Picon
as Mom Goldfarb
Rick Aviles
as Mad Dog
Warren Berlinger
as Shakey Finch
Joe KJecko
as Racing Driver
Joe Klecko
as Racing Driver
Grayce Spence
as Chairperson
Alfie Wise
as Barman
Lois Areno
as Seymour's Girl
Johnny Yune
as TV Talk Show Host
Ben Rogers
as Pennsylvania Cop
Susan McDonald
as Seymour's Girl
James C. Lewis
as Missouri Cop
Jimmy Lewis
as Missouri Patrolman 1
Fred Smith
as California Cop
Bob Stenner
as California Cop
Ken Squier
as California Cop
Roy Tatum
as Connecticut Cop
Dudley Remus
as New Jersey Cop
Hal Carter
as New Jersey Cop
Brock Yates
as Organizer
Kathleen M. Shea
as Starting Girl
Nancy Austin
as Phone Booth Lady
Lois Hamilton
as Seymour's Girl (Spike)
Samir Kamour
as Bedouin
John Megna
as Arthur
Linda McClure
as Dour Lady
Laura Lizer Sommers
as Lady in Distress
Richard Losee
as Trans-Am Driver
View All

Critic Reviews for The Cannonball Run

All Critics (33) | Top Critics (6)

Nonsense but fun nevertheless with a crazy ensemble cast of celebrities of the era.

May 5, 2008 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Full of terribly inside showbiz jokes and populated by what could be called Burt and Hal's Rat Pack, film takes place in that redneck never-never land where most of the guys are beer-guzzling good ole boys and all the gals are fabulously built tootsies.

May 5, 2008 | Full Review…

The last five minutes, when they show out-takes of flubbed lines, etc, are hysterical. The rest is strictly for those willing to pay for a series of TV chat show performances.

February 9, 2006 | Full Review…
Top Critic

The Cannonball Run is an abdication of artistic responsibility at the lowest possible level of ambition. In other words, they didn't even care enough to make a good lousy movie.

October 23, 2004 | Rating: 0.5/4 | Full Review…

Inoffensive and sometimes funny.

August 30, 2004 | Rating: 3/5

The movie doesn't go beyond repeating a formula of parallel stories. [Full Review in Spanish]

August 21, 2019 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Cannonball Run

This movie opens with a black Lamborghini Countach tearing down an empty highway, a sun-kissed highway at dawn, the sound of the engine thundering. Instantly the movies main soundtrack kicks in with its toe tapping beat, the bold stark red credits role, instantly you know this song is cool and you're gonna like it. The jet black Lambo sweeps over the horizon (now set against a clear blue sky), behind it, following closely is a blue Pontiac Firebird/Firebird Trans Am police car, both cars are ripping up the tarmac. By this point if you're attention has not been snagged, or you're not impressed by the sheer sex on wheels, then you're clearly not a petrolhead. Based entirely on an actual unofficial, unsanctioned street race during the 70's, this movie is just that, a long street race from one side of the country to the other. There really is nothing more to this movie than that, a long running chase sequence filled with stunts, crashes and lots of inside jokes. The various characters are always trying to screw each other over, desperately trying to gain the advantage both time and distance wise, whilst avoiding smokey (highway patrols). The collection of racers are basically a bunch of misfits and eccentrics all driving the vehicle of their choice. The characters and the cast that play them are the carrot on the stick for the movie, its a big ensemble of cult and classic stars of the time. Next to that its all about the vehicles, the plot...what plot? Of course this being a Hal Needham car flick he utilises his two main stars from his previous fast car flick (amongst others). There isn't any particular protagonist in this movie but the duo of Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise tend to be the pack leaders obviously. They both drive a souped-up ambulance with Jack Elam on-board as the good doctor Nikolas Van Helsing (could of used a bit more imagination with that name). The sporadic moments of DeLuise as Captain Chaos are easily a guilty pleasure, even though you know its infantile nonsense. The legendary pairing of Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. as a dunken, gambling obsessed duo dressed up as Catholic priests in a red Ferrari, was (and is) pretty fresh. These two serve up much of the comedy as they bumble their way across the country, a surprisingly solid little Laurel and Hardy act. Tara Buckman and John Carpenter movie regular Adrienne Barbeau are the sexy catsuit wearing Lambo drivers. The stereotypical bimbos in a fast car that use their assets to get out of trouble. This was Jackie Chan's second western movie, playing a sort of nerdy high-tec wizard who could of course kick ass. Chan and his partner Michael Hui race in a Subaru GL 4WD that has been kitted out with all sorts of computer gadgetry including radar, a rocket boosted engine, infrared sensors etc...Clearly playing on the old stereotype that people from Orient (China and Japan) are geeky techno geniuses with in depth martial arts knowledge...kinda true though. Did I mention Hal Needham is the director here? Well if the 'Smokey and the Bandit' in-jokes , the casting of Reynolds and DeLuise and the fact this movie is kinda the same as said movie, didn't tip you off, then surely the inclusion of some good ol' redneck boys will. Can't not have some Confederate flag waving southern boys racing, a staple ingredient of Needham car flicks...along with Reynolds. In one of the more amusing and intriguing character roles is Roger Moore...playing himself...kinda. Moore actually plays a character called Seymour Goldfarb Jr. yet this character goes by the name Roger Moore in the film. So...this character, played by Roger Moore, thinks he is the real Roger Moore, when he isn't. Not only that but this confused character drives a silver Aston Martin DB5 which is laden with all the expected gadgets and tricks. Whenever he is on screen a familiar little soundtrack plays, he does refer to his past playing a certain famous character, and he's always got a different beautiful woman in his car in every scene. Lastly we have the Sheikh (Jamie Farr) in his white Rolls Royce Silver Shadow, accompanied by his sister (Bianca Jagger), who can buy his way out of anything. The only character to pop up in all three movies of this franchise and another ropy stereotype. The whole point to this movie (like most of Needham's movies) is to focus solely on the cars and occasionally the characters that drive them. You know exactly what to expect from the get-go as we've seen it all before in his other Burt Reynolds fast car franchise. Lots of smoking tyre spinning, off-road tomfoolery, skids, doughnuts, helpless/useless police units and massive amounts of automobile carnage. At times these sequences get interspersed with some character and plot development, but not much of it ever builds up to anything important and half the time it gets interrupted by some hideous incident involving a big stunt. In all honesty the movie can't live up to those first five electric minutes with the Lambo chase. That sequence is so unbelievably slick n sexy. The black Lambo screeches up to that 'SPEED LIMIT 55' sign, out jumps a slim sexy 80's blonde, graffitis it, jumps back in and zooms away. This short intro is epic in every sense, it gets your pulse racing, its exciting, thrilling and makes you wanna drive dangerously immediately, eat your heart out 'The Fast and Furious'. Not only that but the movies trailer is kickass too! the movie looks and sounds awesome, its just a shame this isn't an accurate representation of the whole flick. Alas it all feels like a big fun vacation for the Hollywood elite. Its like they made a movie for themselves stuffed with inside jokes, nods, winks and cameos galore! getting all their buddies on-board. Its overloaded with dated stereotypes, visuals and even the odd controversial comment. Still there is some cracking car porn here for fans and some stunts are impressive no doubt. A cult movie in a cult genre, unless you're into it you may not like it.

Phil Hubbs
Phil Hubbs

Super Reviewer

Nonstop silliness and shenanigans, with an all star cast.

Ken Stachnik
Ken Stachnik

Super Reviewer


Another all star car chase movie. This one is fun but predictable as always, of course there are one or two really funny scenes, but overall it could be better.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

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