Hooper [1978]

The clarity of hindsight has turned Burt Reynolds's heyday in the 1970s into a time capsule of good ol' boy lunacy, and his movies remain as vital to that decade as disco and Watergate. Hooper represents the tail end of Reynolds's popularity, the last gasp before Reynolds moved on to forgettable romantic comedies and the sheer desperation of Smokey and the Bandit II and The Cannonball Run. Like those films it's harmless fun, and Hooper--conceived as a tribute to veteran stuntman Buddy Joe Hooker--benefits from the fact that both Reynolds and director Hal Needham were former stuntmen. The movie features three generations of stuntmen played by Brian Keith, Reynolds, and Jan-Michael Vincent, the last as a cocky young stunt-star who urges Reynolds to perform his greatest stunt ever: leaping a rocket-powered car over a wide gorge (a stunt inspired by the real-life exploits of daredevil Evel Knievel). What's fun about no-brainers like Hooper is that Reynolds's brand of macho mischief never really goes out of style. It's dated, but it's always going to find an appreciative audience. --Jeff Shannon

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