Image result for the naked gun: from the files of police squad!

The criminals and crimes they did gave rise to dirty streets
And muddy avenues and lanes walked on by dirty feets
And filthy boulevards and drives walked on by dirty cheats,
And that dirty alleyway on Main where no one really meets.
(In fact, the roads are so unclean from litterbug repeats,
The city’s starting to regret not keeping its receipts.)

But anyway, a town this bad needs help that’s never bored—
A Dyson vacuum would be great, but that we can’t afford.
Instead, we have that guy above to fight the felon hoard,
And even though his I.Q. is too meager to record,
We got him for a bargain at the county mental ward.
The vacuum’s better, but at least he doesn’t have a cord.

The drugs and thugs and dirty streets must now beware, for he
Will vanquish every villain with his sheer stupidity!

MPAA rating: PG-13

I added The Naked Gun to my Top 365 Movie List last year (along with several other films I need to hurry up and review before the end of 2016), but part of the reason I’ve put off this one is that I’m not sure what to say about it except…it’s hilarious! That’s as simple a review as I can give, though I suppose I should elaborate.

To use its full name, The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! is one of the funniest parody films from the trio of Zucker, Abrahams, and Zucker, with heartier laughs than the earlier Top Secret! and only surpassed (in my book, anyway) by the classic Airplane! As if Airplane! wasn’t enough, The Naked Gun also solidified Leslie Nielsen as the king of deadpan humor, returning in the role of Lieutenant Frank Drebin that he had played in the short-lived Police Squad TV series. As Drebin, Nielsen is utterly oblivious to the absurdity around him, whether it be his squad car rolling away down a hill or the obvious clues to a crime conspiracy that are right under his nose. His no-nonsense delivery only makes the unbridled nonsense funnier, aided by similarly serious yet ridiculous roles for George Kennedy, Priscilla Presley, and Ricardo Montalbán as evil assassination plotter Vincent Ludwig.

Image result for the naked gun: from the files of police squad!

Like Airplane!, the classic scenes of silliness come quick and thick, sometimes verbal like a hospital called Our Lady of the Worthless Miracle, sometimes visual like the collage of outrageous baseball moments or the disparity of seeing Drebin and his girlfriend laughing as they walk out of a screening of Platoon. Watching O.J. Simpson as the long-suffering Officer Nordberg before he became infamous is retroactively satisfying as he endures numerous physical traumas in succession, and the recognition of various cameos is still amusing all these years later. My favorite of the film’s extravagant absurdities is the fate of Ludwig, which caught me completely off guard on my first viewing and triggered one of my longest bouts of laughter in memory.

It may be a cliché, but they don’t make them like this anymore, not even the Zuckers themselves. Plenty of the gags are off-color, we’ll say, but unlike many modern comedies that try to be gross or shocking, The Naked Gun doesn’t forget to be genuinely funny in its silliness. I ought to see the two sequels sometime, because they should be worthwhile even if they have half the laughs of the original.

Best lines (too many to count): (Frank) “Jane, since I’ve met you, I’ve noticed things that I never knew were there before… birds singing, dew glistening on a newly formed leaf, stoplights.”

(Frank) “It’s true what they say: Cops and women don’t mix. It’s like eating a spoonful of Drano; sure, it’ll clean you out, but it’ll leave you hollow inside.”

(Frank) “It’s the same old story. Boy finds girl, boy loses girl, girl finds boy, boy forgets girl, boy remembers girl, girls dies in a tragic blimp accident over the Orange Bowl on New Year’s Day.”   (Jane) “Goodyear?”   (Frank) “No, the worst.”

(a nurse) “Mrs. Nordberg, I think we can save your husband’s arm. Where would you like it sent?”


Rank: List-Worthy


© 2016 S.G. Liput
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