The Gumball Rally (1976) / Action-Comedy
MPAA Rated: PG for some language, brief nudity and some sexuality
Running Time: 105 min.
Cast: Michael Sarrazin, John Durren, Norman Burton, Raul Julia, Gary Busey, Tim McIntire, Lazaro Perez, Steven Keats, Susan Flannery, Joanne Nail, Tricia O'Neal, Harvey Jason, J. Pat O'Malley, Vaughn Taylor, Wally Taylor
Director: Charles Bail
Screenplay: Leon Capetanos
The Gumball Rally is the first (unless you count Death Race 2000) of several movies which were based on a real-life coast-to-coast car race, and some critics consider it the best of the bunch. Another similar film would come out the same year, Paul Bartel's Cannonball, and five years later, the most popular of them all, The Cannonball Run. They all have the same basic premise: a plethora of eccentric contestants race across the country, getting into trouble with the law, people they meet along the way, and with each other. Perhaps the one quality of The Gumball Rally that sets it apart from the others comes from the fantastic scenes which were obviously on-location. It's thrilling to see cars careening down city streets at breakneck speeds, crashing though buildings, and causing mass mayhem.
There some nifty camerawork, good use of the widescreen process, and nicely shot cinematography, making Gumball an exciting race, not because of the story, but through the way it is packaged together. Excellent aerials, tracking shots, and other slickly conceived visuals punch up the action to the max. Good character actors fill every role, with an especially funny performance by Raul Julia (The Addams Family, Kiss of the Spider Woman) as an amorous Italian driver with the need for speed and bigger need for the ladies. Gary Busey (Lethal Weapon, Point Break) also makes an appearance as a loopy redneck driver.
If you love the 70s stunt and car flicks, The Gumball Rally is well worth your time to check out. Well-executed, mindless fun.
© 2004 Vince Leo