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The real question that "The Naked Gun" poses is not why it's one of the
funniest spoofs ever made, but why virtually no subsequent movie in
this genre has been any good at all. I used to adore this sort of movie
when I was a kid--"Airplane," "Top Secret," and the six-episode "Police
Squad" show, which became the basis for the "Naked Gun" series, were
among the funniest films I knew. When I first saw "The Naked Gun" in
the theater when I was eleven, I was in uncontrollable laughter for the
first few minutes. That was my standard of great humor at the time.
But the following decades gave us a variety of similar spoof films, some of which involved one or more of the Zucker-Abrams-Nielsen team, and none of these films were even remotely in the league of their predecessors. These included "Hot Shots," "Loaded Weapon 1," "Jane Austen's Mafia," "Spy Hard," "Wrongfully Accused," and "Scary Movie." These films would typically feature some funny stuff, but you'd walk away indifferently, wondering what the overall point was. Seeing a ponytailed Leslie Nielsen imitating John Travolta's dance sequence in "Pulp Fiction" is funny for a second, but there's nothing enduring about such humor. An entire movie filled with such scenes doesn't amount to much. What's the big deal about such jokes, anyway? There's nothing intrinsically funny about making references to other films, even if you do it in a silly way. At what point did the genre go wrong and become such a dreary, uninspired affair? Is it that I've just outgrown this sort of humor?
I have another theory. When I first watched "The Naked Gun" at age eleven, I had not seen many of the movies it was spoofing, such as the early James Bond pictures. I was vaguely familiar with some of the clichés it was making fun of, but many of the political and sexual jokes went right over my head. And the celebrity cameos meant nothing to me. So what was it about the film that appealed to me so much, that made me laugh till my sides hurt?
The answer is simple: it was the film's utter silliness. Think of the scene at the beginning when we discover that Ayatollah Khomeini secretly sports a mohawk underneath his turban. Or the opening credits where the police car goes on the sidewalk, inside buildings, on a roller coaster, and so on. None of this makes any sense, of course; it's just an exercise in pure absurdity. I loved "The Naked Gun" for pretty much the same reason I loved the Three Stooges or Bugs Bunny cartoons. Even as an adult, I appreciate unsubtle cartoon humor when it is handled effectively. As long as it makes me laugh, who cares that it's not "sophisticated"? For example, the scene where Lt. Drebin breaks into a building and tries to be as quiet as possible, but then inadvertently sets off a player piano, is masterfully filmed.
Thus, "The Naked Gun" is farce as much as it is satire. As I grew older, I would gain a greater appreciation for the one-liners, like "You take a chance getting up in the morning, crossing the street or sticking your face in a fan." To be sure, many of these jokes are dumb. They're supposed to be. That's the whole point. What I understood even at age eleven was that the movie was essentially playing games with the audience. When Lt. Drebin looks in a drawer and says "bingo," I knew immediately that the drawer would reveal a bingo board. I was used to this sort of humor, because I'd seen it in the earlier Zucker-Abrams films, where the jokes had a definite logic to them, and trying to predict them in advance was part of the fun. They have far more to do with audience anticipation than with trying to make us laugh at bad puns.
The modern spoof films have forgotten all this. They've forgotten that making a good spoof requires a measure of invention, even if much of the plot is ripped off from elsewhere. Car chases may not be original, but "The Naked Gun" is, as far as I know, the first film in which the chase is conducted by a student driver. This type of cleverness is largely absent from the modern spoofs, which assume that they have no reason to be creative when their ideas are based broadly on other films. They've forgotten that the most effective way to make fun of a cliché is by coming up with an ingenious twist. Even the characters in films like these matter, and Lt. Drebin is crafted in the grand tradition of other inept lawmen like Inspector Clousseau. This is what gives the film its own personal stamp that makes it more than an exercise in movie references.
The movie itself is funny. "The Naked Gun" is without a doubt the best
skewering of all cop movie cliches available in this day and age. It works
on every conceivable level and a few that haven't been conceived
But what puts it over the top is Leslie Nielsen.
It's amazing: he was great in "Airplane!", another classic from the ZAZ team (Zucker, Abrahams, Zucker), and in the lamentably short TV series "Police Squad!". But here, he spreads his wings and flies to new heights of insanity and delerium. With jaw set square and tongue firmly in cheek, Neilsen makes the role of Lt. Frank Drebin all his own and the movie-going public's collective life is all the more enriched because of it.
He's aided and abetted by greats like Kennedy, Presley and Montalban (who knew?) and the movie even finds good moments for John Houseman and Reggie Jackson.
As I said, the movie takes off and finds great things to do with police cars with a mind all their own and goes on from there to take on such cliches as car chases, illegal searches, the cleaning out of the desk, the trip to the police lab, shoot-outs, the lax housework of a single police detective, etc., etc., etc.....
And what other cop movie in the history of the world has a music video in the middle, courtesy of Herman's Hermits?
Ten stars and a Dugout Dog for "The Naked Gun", the film that answers once and for all - can Leslie Nielsen do comedy?
I think you know the answer.
This is another movie from the creators of the ever hysterical
Airplane. If you've seen Airplane, than you can expect the same kind of
humor from this. This is one of those movies in which you can go crazy
by trying to count the gags in the first ten minutes. Airplane did
disaster films, this one does police dramas.
Frank Drebin (Leslie Neilsen) is a respected cop with gravel for a brain. He is part of a police force called Police Squad, who the security of Queen Elizabeth has just been handed to for her visit to Los Angeles. Frank bumbles through several hilarious scenarios in trying to foil an assassination attempt on her, and catch the attempted murderer of his best friend Nordberg (OJ Simpson). Meanwhile, he starts going out with the beautiful Jane Spencer (Priscilla Presley).
This movie goes from one hilarious situation to another, from commandeering a car that's being used for a drivers test, to trying to save a valuable pen from a fish tank. Leslie Neilsen's comedic timing is brilliant. His facial expressions during the slapstick sequences are priceless, as are his dead-seriousness of delivering one liners. Some of his quotes are so hilarious, that I have trouble figuring out how he could have possibly kept a straight face during filming. This is another classic in the same style as Airplane, which means hilarity. This gets a 9/10.
It is rated PG-13 for Crude and Sexual Humor, and for Some Language. Sex: 7/10 Violence: 4/10 Swearing: 4/10 Drugs: 5/10
"The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!" is the first movie based on
the 1982 cult classic TV sitcom "Police Squad!" And this movie stands up
next to "Airplane!" as one of the funniest movies ever made. That's no
surprise, since the same team (Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker) that made "Airplane!"
made "The Naked Gun". This movie is quite similar to "Airplane!" in the way
it presents its jokes. Rapid fire, and you can't stop laughing. My kind of
comedy. "The Naked Gun" has some of the biggest laughs in a movie that I've
ever seen. Leslie Nielsen is perfect in his return to the role of inept cop
Lt. Frank Drebin. Priscilla Presley is very funny in her film debut. George
Kennedy, Ricardo Montalban, and even Nancy Marchand (a decade before "The
Sopranos") get big laughs amongst the craziness. And love that opening title
sequence. Very original. And unlike the "Police Academy" series, "The Naked
Gun" sequels lived up to the original 1988 film. The first one is still the
best, but "Naked Gun 2 1/2" and "Naked Gun 33 1/3" were very funny too.
That's why "The Naked Gun" series is the funniest movie series ever made. I
wish Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker would dream up an idea for a fourth "Naked Gun"
picture. If they do, I'll see it in a flash.
**** (out of four)
Fresh from tackling terrorism in Beruit, with his own unique hands on
style, Lt Frank Drebin is immediately called onto the job to
investigate the near fatal shooting of a fellow officer. Det Nordberg
was gunned down investigating a case in the docks and Drebin's
investigation begins with the company that Nordberg was undercover with
that of pillar of the community Vincent Ludwig. As Frank falls for
Ludwig's PA, the beautiful Jane Spencer, he uncovers proof of a
dastardly plot by Ludwig but who will believe him?
If there is a man, woman or child on this earth who can say, hand on heart, that they just don't find Airplane, Naked Gun, Police Squad and the like funny then I would very much like to meet the sad sack just to discover what it takes to elicit a smile from them. Needless to say, this sort of film is very much my type of thing but not to the point where I cannot spot a good one from a bad one. In fact one of the big downsides of this film is that it did create many copies that just couldn't do it as well so we have had spoofs of all sorts of genres recently, but too many have more hits than misses.
It is to this films credit that it has a very high hit/miss ratio and I enjoy it so much because the laughs keep coming. The material is very silly but it is the constant straight face that it delivers it with that is perfect and makes it work. Other films of the ilk have been overly silly without keeping this straight face. However, our characters here seem oblivious apart from the odd one who gives the other a funny look etc, and this makes the goings on even funnier. The plot is silly but that doesn't matter as you will be laughing too much to really care. Having seen it so often I have stopped roaring the way I did the first time but I still chuckled all the way.
The writing and direction is spot on delivering sharp lines that make me laugh due to their sheer unexpectedness or the way they are so very out of place as well as sight gags that are imaginative and clever. However lets not forget a delivery by a very talented cast who make the material work. Praise goes to Nielsen in the lead; he may have worn his role thin over the years with typecasting and, shall we say 'less than perfect' material but give him the tools and he'll do you a job. He can be straight, he can dither or he can just be a clown and he does them all here his delivery is great whether it's action or reaction shots. Likewise I felt the rest of the cast did well even if most of them are given reaction shots to Drebin. Presley is straight and funny for it while Kennedy seems to fit into the material with ease. OJ doesn't have as much chance to be funny and seems a little stiff in the scenes he is in, but he is still good just pales a little when next to the others. I love Montalban and he uses his ooze really well in this film and his reaction shots are very good. The support is all good but it is Nielsen doing his (now) time-honoured turn as spoof-master than steals the show.
Overall I love this genre and consider this film (indeed the series) to be up there with Police Squad and Airplane. It is not as hilarious as Airplane but it has way more hits than misses and is relentlessly funny. As a film it isn't perfect but anyone watching this who complains about plot holes, lack of character development or lack of narrative really have missed the point.
For sheer goof-ball exuberance, you needn't look any further than "The
Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!". Leslie Nielsen remains
forever associated with the role of inept Lt. Frank Drebin, who always
tries to do the right thing but always makes a mess of everything.
Here, he's trying to foil an assassination attempt on Queen Elizabeth.
Since this is from the people behind "Airplane!", it means that much of
the humor derives from twisted dialogue and things popping out of the
background. To crown it all, there's even a guest appearance by "Weird
Al" Yankovic as himself. Also starring are Priscilla Presley, George
Kennedy, O.J. Simpson, and Ricardo Montalban.
And to think that Leslie Nielsen started out in movies like "Forbidden Planet"!
ZAZ's(David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker) The Naked Gun is one of
the funniest (if not funniest) film ever with more parodies and gags than
one could ever imagine. And the writing is if not good, great that never
lets up (even through the finale baseball game with Reggie Jackson).
But what really gets this film up there is it's main characters. Leslie Nielson has never been better and probably won;t ever be this good ever again. He brings an insane type of humor from a cop that hasn't been seen since Clouseau. The supporting characters are good also, including Priscilla Pressley, George Kennedy, Ricardo Montebaum, Nancy Marchand and (odd to see him in a movie today) OJ Simpson. There zany characters and added with a great script make this a treasure in cinema comedy. One of the best films of the 80's. A++
I suppose when it comes down to it,I am very easily entertained when it comes to comedy.It just doesn't take much to make me laugh.The makers of The Naked Gun did their job well.The film is so overloaded with sight gags,that if you blink,you just might miss one,or maybe even two of them.The slightest distractions will make you miss something.Some of the humor is vulgar and downright tasteless,but nonetheless funny.The final sequences involving the baseball game were the best.With the possible exception of O.J.Simpson,who was never good when he tried to act,this was a grand all around comedic effort,and comedy,as many have said,is hard to produce.I actually can recall the short lived television series that this film is based on.Only six episodes were produced,and it was a shame more were not made.I was glad to see it come roaring back on the big screen.Perhaps it belonged there all along.
In this film, Leslie Nielsen gives full expression to the comic genius which
he began to reveal in AIRPLANE! Frank Drebin is one of the great comic
characters in film.
Just as in AIRPLANE! we get a grand spoof -- this time detective/police movie/TV cliches get roasted. The sight gags, Nielsen's dead-pan, and the wonderfully silly dialogue add up to a great comedy.
Really good film, I liked this one!
I recently bought the boxed set, (all 3 films) and really enjoyed watching them again. I have to admit though, I did not quite laugh as much as I did when I first watched them.
I remembering watching them the first time and thinking "What the hell am I watching? This is MAD! hahaha lol. All the bits like Frank hitting stuff with his car every time he parks and the bit with Nordberg at the start - classic!
Really good light-hearted fun...
7 out of 10
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