The Naked Gun (1988) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

What can you say? Not only is The Naked Gun one of the best genre spoofs ever created, but it is the second best performance O.J. Simpson ever gave.

And then there's Leslie Nielsen! A grade-B dramatic actor most memorable either as Disney's heroic "Swamp Fox", or as the earnest astronaut in Forbidden Planet, Leslie Nielsen made the move to comedy and ascended to a height beyond anything even he might have imagined. Using the same flat, deadpan style that doomed his serious acting, he emerged as arguably the greatest comic actor since Chaplin. Whoda thunk it? In fact, I don't think I could ever watch him in a serious show again, because I now crack up the minute he appears on screen. Of course he may not affect everyone the way he affects me, but he certainly should be assigned one inarguable title: he's the heavyweight champion of genre parodies. He has sent up disaster movies, spy films, horror movies, cop movies, cop shows, sci-fi, and sports movies.

  1. Men with Brooms (2002)
  2. Spy Hard (1996)
  3. Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995)
  4. Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult (1994)
  5. The Naked Gun 2: The Smell of Fear (1991)
  6. The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988)
  7. "Police Squad!" (1982 -TV series)
  8. Airplane! (1980)

There are some bad movies in that group, and there are some even worse ones I left off the list, but there are also some very good ones, including The Naked Gun. Airplane! is generally considered the best film in Nielsen's filmography, but that was an ensemble comedy in which Nielsen had a fairly small part, while The Naked Gun was Nielsen's star turn, and he made the best of it. Since this role is probably the best starring performance by a man who is a valid contender for the title of "best comic actor ever," I guess you have to conclude it is one of the greatest comic performances in history, and therefore a "must watch" for any comedy fans who have not already seen it. Nielsen plays the part of Lt. Frank Drebin, who seems to be the world's clumsiest and most inept policeman, but who nonetheless always manages to come out on top, not only by defeating L.A.'s most brilliant criminals, but by overcoming virtually all evil in the world in his spare time. In this film he manages to defeat Khaddafy, Arafat, Idi Amin, and Ayatollah Khomeini, and even to remove Gorbachev's birthmark!

The primary storyline of the film involves a plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth during her visit to a Los Angeles Angels baseball game. Drebin must thwart the murderer, who turns out to be the Angels' slugging right fielder Reggie Jackson. The baseball game is especially funny, with Lt. Drebin impersonating, in turn, the National Anthem singer and the home plate umpire. Queen Elizabeth, for her part, cheerfully participates in a "wave" and obligingly passes a beer down to the end of her row. There are too many great jokes to list, but my favorite schtick involved Mel Allen's unusual plays of the week, in which a sliding runner is mauled by a 600 pound tiger, and an infielder misses a pop fly because he is run over by a car.

As Mr Allen would say, "How about that?"

Funny movie, and the jokes still work after 15 years.

 

DVD INFO

  • Full-length commentary by writer/director David Zucker and others
  • Widescreen, anamorphically enhanced (16x9)

 

NUDITY REPORT

Although the film itself is rated PG-13 and contains no nudity once it begins in earnest, two women show their bums in the opening credits!

The Critics Vote ...

  • Super-panel consensus out of four stars: three and a half   stars. Roger Ebert 3.5/4, BBC 4/5.

The People Vote ...

  • It was a hit, grossing $78 million in the USA as a result of great word-of-mouth. (It opened modestly with a $9 million weekend.)
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, it's a B- : a lowbrow comedy classic. It's a top drawer genre parody with a brilliant comic performance from Nielsen - mandatory viewing for all comedy fans, and popular even with people who don't normally enjoy lowbrow humor.

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