It was 1977. I was 9 years old when my parents took my sister and I to see “Smokey and the Bandit.” They took us on the condition that we wouldn’t listen to the “bad words.” We lived a sheltered life. We didn’t know which ones were the bad ones.
But I digress.
If you’re of a certain age, you hold the Southern fried car chase movies Burt Reynolds made in the 70s in high esteem. We grew up with the older ones running on late night television and the newer ones running in the theaters alongside Star Wars and Superman.
Burt was always a likeable rogue. Having spent the early part of the decade perfecting the persona in lesser gems like “Gator,” “WW and the Dixie Dance Kings,” and “White Lightning,” he brought the car chase genre to its absolute peak with 77’s “Smokey and the Bandit.” Only “Star Wars” made more money at the box office that year.
Its a simple story really. The boys are thirsty in Atlanta and there’s beer in Texarkana and the Bandit has 28 hours to get a truck full of Coors beer from Texarkana to Atlanta. If he does, he gets 80 large.
Simple and to the point.
The casting in the original is perfect. Burt Reynolds, at the peak of his box office power, is the Bandit. He laughs and smirks his way cross country in the iconic black Trans-Am. Sally Field took a chance by taking the role of Frog. She was still seen by many as Gidget so appearing in such an adult film. Country singer, Jerry Reed, as Bandit’s buddy, Snowman, held his own in a film full of established stars. And what can you say about the legendary Jackie Gleason. He was born to play a Southern cop.
But 1977 was a long time ago. Trust me, I know.
The other day my wife and I were going somewhere and we telling her about an idea a buddy and I had about remaking “Cannonball Run” and who we decided would be a good cast. This led the wife and I into a discussion of who would be good in a remake of “Smokey and the Bandit.”
I’m not sure they’d ever make this movie, but if they did, here are our suggestions.
Let’s start with the harder one. Who plays THE BANDIT?
Who fills the hat and the ‘stache?
Who drives the Trans Am across the south with Buford T. Justice in high speed pursuit.
The success or failure of our idea lies with this one.
The guy has be be charismatic, fast talking and good with the ladies, while still be the guy others guys want to hang out with.
Who did we come up with?
That’s right your eyes don’t decieve you.
Our Bandit is Vince Vaughn.
With or without the mustache, Vince can talk with the best of them. He’s got a weird laugh like Burt and he’s as fast a talker as there is.
I want to see Vince in the black Trans-Am.
Up next is Frog.
Sally Field brought a world weary innocence to her role as the failed dancer and runaway bride of Junior Justice in the original.
She was the kind of woman that Bandit avoided because he knew he’d end up falling for her which is exactly what he did.
So who is going to fill Frog’s tap shoes in our remake?
Alright, I admit I wrote “world weary innocence” up there because I knew who our pick was. If she’d been around in the late 70s Drew Barrymore would have been a lock for Frog.
Since she wasn’t, she’s Sally to Vince’s Burt in our movie. She’s charming and quirky, just like Sally Field. She’s an “America’s sweetheart,” just like Sally Field. She’s the comeback kid, just like Sally Field. Case closed.
Every hero needs his villain. Batman has the Joker. Superman has Lex Luthor. John Connor has the Terminator. Vanilla Ice had that “zero.”
Casting “The Great One” was genius on the part of the original film’s producers. Gleason chewed up scenery from the moment he appeared on screen and more than held his own with Burt Reynolds. He introduced a whole generation to those previously mentioned “bad words” and said horribly insulting things about his wife, all while maintaining high speed pursuit.
So who is the new Buford T. Justice?
The thought of making this movie without Burt Reynolds is blasphemous. How do you fix that?
Bandit becomes Smokey.
Burt played the Southern fried heavy, Boss Hogg, in “The Dukes of Hazard.” He’s a natural fit inside that cruiser as it gets trashed in pursuit of the Trans-Am. Seriously, who else could it be?
You can’t haul Coors cross-country without a driver. In the original, Jerry Reed and Fred were those drivers.
Jerry Reed was the comic relief in the movie, mixing it up with bikers and an obstinate bassett hound.
He had some great lines with everyone and held his own.
Our original thought on the new Snowman was Owen Wilson, but we changed our minds.
Snowman is the second banana in the movie. Casting Wilson elevates him to co-star and that’s not the point.
So who is driving our big rig?
Danny McBride that’s who?
You may say Danny McBride who?
McBride has shone in small roles in “Tropic Thunder” and “Pineapple Express.”
More importantly, his role as ex-major leaguer, Kenny Powers, in HBO’s aptly titled “Eastbound and Down,” shows that McBride knows how to play Southern without resorting to cliche.
I really think McBride is the next big thing in comedy and he’s a welcome addition to our cast.
Home stretch now. The rest of our casting is mainly supporting roles.
We need a Junior for Frog to leave a the altar and for Buford to abuse.
This one was easy. We needed a guy who was affable and could play dense.
Ben Stiller your number has been called. Stiller can do his gibbering “monkey boy” schtick and I’ll pay to see Burt Reynolds beating him silly(ier) with a cowboy hat.
And last, but not least, are Big Enos and Little Enos. Played in the original by Paul Williams and Pat McCormick, these two are the catalysts for the run.
The men in our cowboys suits?
Big Enos is Chevy Chase.
Think Ty from “Caddyshack” with a Southern accent. Or don’t. It doesn’t matter. He’s only going to be in a couple of scenes.
Can you see it coming?
Little Enos is Will Ferrell.
Of course the obvious gag is that “Little” Enos is the same size as “Big” Enos.
One final note. When we make this, I want to use the original script, the original Trans-Am and use real car crashes, no cgi. I want it to be a beer run and not a dope run. That makes Bandit’s crew seem a little more honorable somehow.