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Naked Gun

December 8, 2010

Naked Gun

When it comes to comedy films, there hasn’t been a legend like Leslie Nielsen in the world of comedy in this current generation.  And with his passing on, I had to go back and rewatch one of his comedic masterpieces in Naked Gun, this film is beautifully constructed with a story that barely holds together, except for the glue of the absurd laughs which Nielsen and the other members of the cast put together so beautifully.

The story is of a police officer, Frank Drebin, in particular a member of Los Angeles’ famed police squad who has been going through a rough patch in his life after his wife left him.  This sounds like it could be a drama with that beginning.  He comes back to Los Angeles after some time off in Beruit to find that his partner, Nordberg, has been gunned down as he was investigating a drug trafficking ring.  Nordberg is in a hospital and recovering, and Drebin vows to get revenge for him and bring the people who did this to justice..  At the same time, he also has to aid the other members of Police Squad as they must protect the Queen of England as she visits Los Angeles.  Neither job goes nearly as smoothly as planned for Drebin leading to many awkward and hilarious situations.

Leslie Nielsen is comedy gold in this film and basically every other film that he is in, he even makes some of the Scary Movies watchable because of his comedy antics in some bit parts.  He has this sweet old man look to him which is immediately thrown out of the window with his over the top and often pseudo risque actions and dialog.  His comedy panders to the lowest common denominator, but like Peter Sellers in the Pink Panther films he pulls it off with amazing talent and grace.  His supporting cast does a good job of helping in his comedy needs.  O.J. Simpson is an absurd choice to play his partner, Nordberg, but it seemingly fits and most people have no issue with seeing Simpson get beat up.  Priscilla Presley plays the love interest for Nielsen’s character (new lover interest not his ex-wife) and is sufficiently awkward and clumsy making her a perfect math for Drebin.  The strongest performance along side of Nielsen’s is George Kennedy who plays Drebin’s commanding officer, and is the unfortunate victim of so many of Drebin’s failures.

David Zucker, director of so many spoofs and satires (and producer of more which he shouldn’t be proud of), makes comedy gold with the Naked Gun films.  He has a good talent for spotting stupid jokes that are going to be funny, and while some of his later works, Scary Movie 3 and 4, don’t match the level of this film, I think a lot of that can be placed on the fact that Leslie Nielsen is such comedy gold.

This is a comedy spoof that everyone should see (or Airplane!) as they are comedy classics, and when a comedy legend has passed away, there isn’t a better time to see it then now.  Leslie Nielsen’s antics are something that only come once per generation, and will make anyone laugh, at least once, during a film.

Entertainment Grade: B+

Critical Grade: C+

Overall Grade: B

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