A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Smokey and the Bandit is a mid-1970s car-chase comedy with a classic set of antiheroes outwitting bumbling law-enforcement officers on highways from Texas to Georgia. Likable characters break the law with abandon (and humor). Cars crash, roll over, and fly through the air throughout the film, but there are no injuries or deaths. One character is beaten up in a bar and appears battered afterward, and a dog is threatened. Almost everyone swears ("bitch," "s--t," "goddamn," "ass"); there are insults ("dummy," "fag," "turd,"); and sexual banter is used as a source of humor ("knockers," "I'd like to jump you," "poontang"). A romance results in kissing, but sexual activity is implied and not shown. Coors beer plays a prominent part in the story.
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What's the story?
Bandit (Burt Reynolds) and Cledus (Jerry Reed) are hell-bent on illegally transporting a truckload of Coors beer from Texas to Georgia in SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT. They have a 28-hour deadline, and they've made an $80,000 bet that they can do it. It isn't long before Texas troopers are alerted and the chase is on. The stakes get higher when Carrie (Sally Field), a runaway bride, convinces Bandit to help her escape. Her jilted bridegroom's father is a "Smokey" (a local term for "sheriff" -- played by comic actor Jackie Gleason), who has vowed to get Carrie back. Will Bandit and Carrie fall in love? Will Smokey be humiliated during endless encounters? Will Bandit and Cledus get the beer to Georgia? It's a mad dash across borders as the trio attempts to outwit and outrun their hapless pursuers.
Is it any good?
Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, and Jackie Gleason have a high time in this silly car-chase movie that was a big hit and spawned several sequels. Smokey and the Bandit is all crashes and booms, with a budding romance evolving between two very popular stars. It's Burt Reynolds at his most ingratiating and Sally Fields at her most adorable (well before her serious acting skills had been discovered by fans). It's always predictable and often funny; there's pratfall humor, with Smokey and his dim-witted son being made the butt of most of the jokes. The PG rating (issued well before the addition of PG-13) doesn't quite take into account the continuous swearing and sexual repartee.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about all the comic car accidents in Smokey and the Bandit. Why is awareness of the real consequences of such accidents important, particularly to kids and teens?
Clowns make wonderful villains in some comedies. In what ways is Sheriff Buford Justice a clown? How is he different from real police and law-enforcement officers?
In this movie the heroes constantly break laws, and it's all in fun. Do you think that may influence a younger viewer's attitude about laws and following rules? How can parents help clarify the issue?
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