A slapstick spoof of police thrillers and action films by the makers of AIRPLANE, THE NAKED GUN stars Leslie Nielsen as Lt. Frank Drebin. This comic cop and master car-crasher must protect Queen Elizabeth II when world terrorists target her for assassination during her visit to the U.S. Despite this high-level assignment, Frank still has time to fall in love with a younger woman (Priscilla Presley), and nearly destroy the world several times over while trying to save it.
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Before the craze of Scary Movies and spoof movies galore, if youíd even give them the honor of falling into that territory, there was The Naked Gun series. Leslie Nelson made the franchise what it was with his very straight shooting always dramatic portrayal of the hard hitting cop Frank Drebin.
The Story: In a way, itís a police procedural. A tangential one at that. The story deviates constantly from the main plot, overshadowing it for comedic situations spoofing the genre. In other words, the plot is very weak. And I mean very weak. The film makers do an excellent job of spoofing various scenarios from the genre but completely forgot to spoof the ridiculousness of the actual plot. That is the one comedic shortcoming of the film. Because of this very episodic comedic nature, the film starts to drag around the 45 minute mark. Yes, youíll still be laughing, but there are moments when they are still trying to tell a story. An overused story at that, following all the footsteps of itís genre. When Drebin is finally kicked off the force and makes his way into the investigation through disguises and other offbeat ideas, itís like a breath of fresh air. Simply because they have free reign so spoof absolutely anything they want. In the end, the film ends on a very bland note with some slapstick comedy that really doesnít make you laugh as hard as some of the other moments in the film.
Acting: Make no mistake, itís Nelsonís show. 95% of the time heís hilarious and heís just being over the top serious for the whole film. Only on rare occasion does he bore me when watching this movie. Presley actually does quite a good job in the leading lady role. This may sound very pig headed of me, but itís very hard to find a beautiful woman with such an understanding of the acting style needed for a film like this. Most of the time actresses see it as ďjust acting stupid.Ē Thus why you get Pam Anderson, Carmen Electra and Jenny Mcarthy in spoof movies these days. Theyíre naturals at doing it Ė and just suck horribly when they try to be even worse.
Directing: Back when David Zucker was good. This was a time period when he understood how to make comedy gold. Or maybe it was his cast. Either way, this is a film that he should really re-watch these days because it hits a lot of beats. It actually spoofs things instead of just making them stupid.
Cinematography: Yeah, itís very gray, drab and boring. Thereís not a whole lot done here to be visually interesting. The good old film grain does lend itself to it overall. Part of success in making something funny is when the impression to the audience is that the film is attempting to be serious and failing miserably.
Production Design: Again, very drab and boring. Itís 80ís incarnate. Hell, itís very cheap too. The mind control devices could be bought from a guy on the street of New York City for $12 and you could make your own spoof version of this with a camcorder and itíd be accurate.
Editing: While it does work for the actual comedic beats, as an overall film, it drags. I canít quite understand it, but it may be because there is very little dramatic tension going on. Each scene is entirely tangential and because of this the film stops being enjoyable.
Score: Itís a fun little jazz number. Nothing too special. But it works for the film. Itís got a nice noir / 60ís cop show twist to it all that lends a flavor to the film not found in the cinematography or production design.
Special Effects: Poor. Cheap. Hilarious. Exactly how it should be.
In closing: This is a solid spoof movie that still holds up today. Sure, some of it is very dated and some bits arenít as funny as they were back in the day, but the film just has something about that will make you laugh. Especially if youíre a fan of the films. Itís the perfect mid-afternoon on a rainy day movie to watch. Mostly because itís funny, but overall because the film starts to drag and youíll fall asleep before itís over. But thatís ok, itís a spoof movie, you know how it ends anyway.