Gator

Good ol' boys and more good ol' boys
★★
☆☆☆
Released: 
1976
Director: 
Burt Reynolds
Starring: 
Burt Reynolds, Jack Weston, Lauren Hutton, Jerry Reed
The Setup: 
Burt Reynolds does his good ‘ol boy thing. Again.
Discussion: 

I’m going to just have to accept that whatever mysterious allure and hot sexiness Burt Reynolds once projected to me was primarily a function of both the cultural climate of the time and the fact that I was eight. I love me a good, mustachioed, hairy-chested 70s guy, but somehow everything I’ve seen Burt in except Deliverance has had him as just kind of a dud. Oh, I guess he wasn’t so bad in Semi-Tough, either. Okay, let’s just say he’s better [and more attractive] in movies that have scripts.

Not the case here. This is a sequel to White Lightning, which I probably wouldn’t have watched, but am certainly never going to now. Burt is this swamp dude who lives with his moonshine-makin’ father and young daughter, who he supposedly spends too much time with. But before we learn all this we have a song by Jerry Reed—who will come on in a sec as the villain of this film—that tells the legend of Gator and how he “grew up eating rattlesnake meat and drinkin’ homemade brew.” We also see that the governor, whose responsibility it is to “clean up Dunston County,” is played by Mike Douglas… the same guy that had a popular afternoon talk show back in the 70s.

Anyway, the cops are after Burt or his father or some shit, leading to the first speedboat chase through the swamp. Burt “knows the swamp like the back of his hand,” and is thus able to avoid the law. You will see at one point he leaps his speedboat over an elevated platform, although they don’t explain how he levitated his boat into the air in order to do that. Maybe he has secret telekinetic powers? Hello—sequel? How about Carrie Vs. Gator? Anyway, I hope you find that high-pitched little laugh of Burt’s as utterly adorable as he apparently does, as you will be hearing it approximately every 10 seconds throughout the film.

Oh, and by the way, during this speedboat chase we see a mumbling black man have his house destroyed, but he doesn’t seem to mind because he appears to be drunk.

So then Burt is recruited by the police to do some work for them on the Jerry Reed character, who is some low-life kingpin of Dunston County, or face going back to jail for moonshining and losing custody of his daughter. He agrees. In here he catches a glimpse of Lauren Hutton as a spunky reporter, and a young teenage girl throws herself at him. There’s also a warehouse “fire” that was obviously accomplished by having four guys standing behind the fake building, each pointing a flamethrower upward.

I was getting pretty bored by this point. Burt joins Jerry Reed’s bad guys, where one of Reed’s thugs asks him if he heard the sound of a man getting ass-raped while in prison [did I mention that Burt was in prison before the movie started?]. Burt says yes, and the man says “I know the sound.” I feel like I should make some sort of pithy comment here, but I just can’t bother to think of one.

Anyway, Jerry lets Burt sleep with one of his 15-year-old prostitutes as a sort of welcome to the club, which Burt refuses to do, and this is the source of his break with Jerry, and sets up the next hour or so as Burt is trying to evade both the bad guys and the cops. Wow. Lauren Hutton reappears around 1:10, and she is at Burt’s side as they have chases, chases, and more chases. They also screw once, I think. Wow. I don’t even remember the ending, but I DO recall that this thing is almost a full two hours, which is about 30 minutes longer than standard movie length, and 90 minutes longer than this thing has compelling content to fill.

This was directed by Burt himself, and the direction could be worse. I don’t really have much to say about any other aspect of anything here. If you like Burt’s oeuvre of loosely-structured movies that revolve mainly around how hot he is, and what a charming and true-hearted good ‘ol boy he is, you’ll probably be into it. For me Burt just wasn’t hot enough and I found the whole thing fairly tedious. And now I’m hungry. I only had a salad for lunch. I wish I had a sandwich.

Should you watch it: 

If you’re into Burt’s whole good ‘ol boy schtick.