I'll just try to keep The Conversation devoted to cars this week, following my last post on the electric-powered DeLorean. Maybe it'll work as a subtle promotion for the release of the doc sequel Revenge of the Electric Car, which I recommend.
Anyway, today we're looking at the latest development in the previously threatened remake of The Cannonball Run. Vulture got the ball rolling this week with insider information that not only are Warner Bros. and Fox in talks with original CR and CR2 producer Al Ruddy, but General Motors is also contemplating being involved in a capacity greater than mere supplier of product placement (a la the Transformers films). However, today a GM spokesperson has been tweeting at bloggers denying it, claiming the carmakers "wouldn’t condone a project portraying reckless/drunken driving."
Of course, they could still be a mere supplier of product placement, but any exclusive would make no sense. When I think back to my beloved Cannonball Run films, American cars don't really come to mind. I picture a Lamborghini, a Ferrari, a Porche, an Aston Martin, a Rolls Royce, a Mercedes and a tricked-out Suburu. And, of course, a Dodge ambulance. American, but not GM. But who would do product placement for an ambulance, anyway? Part of the fun of the movies is the variety of vehicles. I wouldn't want a single supplier anymore than I'd want Mattel to only make GM-brand Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars.
Also not making sense is one idea for the remake. Warner's version would have Ruddy's first pick of director, Guy Ritchie, paying some homage to the originals' Rat Pack connection with Brad Pitt and his Ocean's Eleven gang aboard for a Europe-set race. That might be fun, but it's technically even less of a Cannonball Run movie than the pseudo sequel, Speed Zone. The films are named for an actual cross-America race called the Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash (okay, so there is currently a Euro version). It's worth saying, even if GM's not involved, that an all American-made-auto race on the Autobahn is totally idiotic.
Fox's remake would be appropriately more comic, with Shawn Levy (who bloggers are strangely still trashing this week in spite of loving Real Steel) and his Nights at the Museum star Ben Stiller. Unless it turns out the cars come to life at night, making this a live-action Cars, as well, I'd be fine with a version featuring Stiller and, say, a best-of sampling of Anchorman talent (including cameos), minus maybe Jack Black, who probably is already being talked about for the Dom DeLuise role. That or a version from David Wain and the rest of the The State troupe. They did such a fine job on their shot-for-shot redo of Cannonball Run's end-credit bloopers. Maybe we can just have each major studio produce their own take on the film as an added sort of contest?
One thing's for certain, Daniel Craig needs to co-star in one of them as the new, edgier Seymour Goldfarb, Jr.
What are others saying about the potential Cannonball Run remake(s)? Here's The Conversation heard around the blosophere and Twitter:
So Brad Pitt and Guy Ritchie, but if that doesn’t work out, Ben Stiller and Shawn Levy. Uh huh, sure. 10 bucks says by the time this gets made, they’ll be down to Brett Ratner and the dude from Burn Notice. - Vince Mancini, Film Drunk
Hopefully the studio will make up their minds on one of these two proposals before the project gets filtered down to Garry Marshall. - Sean O'Neal, A.V. Club
I know what I’d pick and so does anyone who saw Ritchie’s BMW short film/commercial, “The Hire” (see below, it gets good at 4:19), featuring his ex-wife Madonna. - Jeff Leins, News in Film
While I'm still sort of so-so on Ritchie taking on this remake and not really a fan of remaking it in general, I'd rather he have it than Levy. - Niki Stevens, JoBlo.com
We imagine his vision for the movie will be quite different than Ritchie’s, but as long as GM have their cars zooming around, we’re pretty sure the actual plot is secondary to making sure their vehicles are caught in crisp HD 3D or whatever. - Kevin Jagernauth, The Playlist
I think I would prefer to see Guy Ritchie’s version of the remake as opposedto Shawn Levy’s. Brad Pitt, George Clooney and stars of that ilk would make it something worth watching. Imagine if they could get Ryan Gosling to spoof his Drive character in some way? - Live for Films
With Ritchie at the helm, you're talking about expensive, "Ocean's Eleven"-sized talent being on the casting wish list (Pitt, George Clooney, Robert Downey Jr, Angelina Jolie...). With Levy at the helm, you'll get much more manageable, "Hollywood Squares"-sized talent (Stiller, Kevin James, a Wilson brother or two, Anna Faris...) - Eric Alt, NBC's Popcorn Biz
No word on whether the Middle Eastern oil sheikh character, played circa 1981 by Jamie Farr, will make a reappearance in the 2011 version. (Fingers crossed!) - Jen Chaney, Washington Post's Celebritology
While we're fine with a remake of Cannonball Run, we're a little apprehensive about what could amount to a two-hour long advertisement for GM metal. No one likes watching a movie where every main vehicle is from one brand or another, especially when the film specifically focuses on an illicit race. Who wants to see a Spark square off against an Equinox? - Zach Bowman, Autoblog
Hey, it's Cannonball Run, it's gonna need cars; if GM wants to provide them, why not let them? - David Wharton, Cinema Blend
Given the nature of the property, geared toward gearheads, it’s probably for the best if the movie is a two-hour car commercial with some plot going on in the background. - Brendan Bettinger, Collider
the idea of turning a movie - even a flighty one like Cannonball Run - into a two-hour commercial for their products goes beyond product placement, and runs the risk of pandering. You may remember, or have desperately tried to forget, the E.T. rip-off Mac & Me, which was partially funded by McDonalds, resulting in scenes like, say, this one... - William Bibbiani, Crave Online
I would be surprised to see Guy Ritchie pull in Pitt and Clooney, but beyond that I can see the deal coming together. So if it did happen — if GM helped Warner Bros. get a new Cannonball Run into theaters — would it matter that the film had such corporate backing? Or is product placement already enough of an expected element in a movie of that type that it wouldn’t matter much? - Russ Fischer, /Film
For those hollering about selling out the spirit of the original film, it's worth remembering that 1981's Cannonnball Run was loaded with product placement: Budweiser. Redman tobacco. Ruffles potato chips. That the owner of Hawaiian Tropic's Lamborghini was used during filming may account for the tanning brand's heavy appearances throughout the movie. Plus, after Real Steel's Dr Pepper scene, Levy may even want to keep the original's plug for Dr Pepper. In fact, there's a new variety of Dr Pepper they may want to check out. - Abe Sauer, Brand Channel
@Victors2Sense: Cannonball Run remake?? Karate Kid, Nightmare on Elm Street, & soon Point Break... Has #Hollywood finally jumped the shark?
@Stingray_travel: Cannonball Run remake Really, I don't think an Ocean's 11 style Cannonball Run movie is going to work in today's Fast and Furious crowd. What I'm I saying! Fast 5 was an Oceans 11 movie with cars. Cannonball Run remake, Why not.
The Conversation Poll: What is your ideal director/actor combo for a remake of The Cannonball Run?
@Carpie2112: Soderbergh and the Oceans cast...
@JeremyKKirk: Jody Hill and Danny McBride
@vjmfilms: Godard to direct, Hillary Swank to star, and then hopefully a meteorite will hit the set
Follow Christopher Campbell on Twitter (@thefilmcynic) to join The Conversation.