Over the years, there’s been a fair number of film franchises that for whatever reason have grown stale and out of date, and sometimes it seems that both movie fans and Hollywood notice this at the same time. Over the years, for whatever reason, Superman, Batman, Star Trek, James Bond, Spider-Man (OK, that last one was a little too early) all have shown their age from time to time, and a new director and cast is brought in to give the same story a new look, presumably updated to reflect society’s evolution and changing tastes.
And then there’s “Smokey and the Bandit” – the “iconic” trucking movie. As the years roll on, our last image of trucking’s biggest big-screen smash continues to be Burt Reynolds guffawing while speeding down the road to keep Jackie Gleason away from his good ol’ trucker buddy, Jerry Reed, while he hauls his cargo to its final destination and boo-hoos to Bandit over the CB about how they’ll never make it on time. Lord, just typing that description makes me realize how dated that sounds. And let’s not even get into the misbegotten sequels – even my grandparents hated those when we saw them, and they really liked Burt Reynolds.
It’s high time for another Hollywood trip down the highway with a trucking hero, one with some 21st century technology at his fingertips and the ability to make filmgoers realize that trucking isn’t just a world filled with toothless rednecks behind the wheel and fleet owners willing to ignore the hours-of-service rules to deliver loads in record time. If it ain’t “Smokey and the Bandit” – and there’s certainly no reason it has to be – then start a whole new story.
Of course, it’s Hollywood – a whole new film with new characters might be pushing it, so let’s settle for a Smokey reboot. I hear The Rock is available. Judging from his fine work behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler in “Snitch,” you wouldn’t even have to wait for him to get a CDL.