Paramount // 1988 // 84 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // April 16th, 2001
The loony adventures of Frank Drebin and Company.
The Zucker brothers are the early (and funnier) version of the Farrelly brothers. With films such as Airplane!, Top Secret, and Lawrence Of Arabia, the Zuckers have kept America laughing with goofy puns, obnoxious gags and zippy one-liners. Their sense of humor usually rides the line between stupid and genius (usually skewing towards the latter). It's easy to spot the indelible mark the Zuckers have made on current comedic filmmaking. One of their best was The Naked Gun: From The Files Of Police Squad, a full length feature spun off from the little seen TV show "Police Squad!" The Naked Gun is on patrol from Paramount on DVD.
For anyone who has seen The Naked Gun they already know that the story is only there as loose fitting on which to hang jokes, gags and puns. However, since I am devoted to my craft (devoted meaning I write reviews in exchange for free movies) I will write a quick synopsis of the film for you lunkheads.
Frank Drebin is on the case of a...oh, screw it. If you care about the plot then you're watching The Naked Gun for all the wrong reasons. Here's a quickie summary: Drebin runs into a scheme where Ricardo Montalban is trying out a mind control device to be used to assassinate the Queen of England. Along the way everything but the kitchen sink are thrown at the audience. Guest stars including baseball legend Reggie Jackson, "Weird" Al Yankovic, and more trample across the screen to mug and goof off. Pricilla Presley plays Drebin's love interest Jane, and George Kennedy is along for the ride as Ed, Frank's straight-laced police buddy. And yes, there's O.J. as well, but every joke I could possibly make about him would either A.) be in bad taste, B.) have already been said 56 thousand times before, or C.) leave you laughing so hard that you'd feel guilty about it in the morning.
The Naked Gun is a laugh riot from beginning to end. I dare anyone to watch this movie and not have at least ten places where they don't laugh out loud. Sure, a few parts (O.J. Simpson) may not be quite as funny now as they were before, but this is still one of the funniest comedies ever made, period. The Zucker brothers should be placed on a very large pedestal. These are the same goons who brought us the equally funny Airplane!, the funny (though sub-par) Top Secret!, and the zany The Kentucky Fried Movie. The style is the generous "throw everything at the wall and see what sticks." Some of the jokes fall flat, but the majority of them are so laugh inducing that you'll want to watch them over and over again (and in fact you may have to; many of the jokes are so subtle that it takes multiple viewings just to catch them all).
The Naked Gun lampoons all the police movies and television shows you've ever seen. The typical detective voiceover is used, the bombastic police themes, even the multi-million-dollar mogul-who-wants-to-control-the-world-scheme is here. As a side thought, if you were a multimillionaire, wouldn't you rather just be laying on a beach somewhere in Tahiti drinking fruit beverages instead of trying to take over the world? Doesn't it seem like if you owned the entire world it would be a lot more work to run it than it's worth?
Leslie Nielson as Lieutenant Frank Drebin is a perfect match of character and actor. Nielson found his niche in the '90s playing straight faced goofballs in such films as Spy Hard and Wrongfully Accused. Here he hits his stride as Drebin, a man so devoted to his work that he is willing to tackle the Queen of England straddle style on a table. Yes, Drebin is an idiot, but he's the most entertaining idiot since Jerry Lewis (umm...I didn't just say that, did I?). Pricilla Presley shows that she can indeed act as Jane, Drebin's little nookie machine. Though Presley has not been in much since The Naked Gun series, she proves herself as a talented comedic actress with her role in this film, as well as its two sequels The Naked Gun 2 1/2 : The Smell Of Fear and The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult. Finally there's O.J., and watching him on screen is just too damn creepy to talk about.
The Zucker Brothers have a crafted ear for this kind of comedy. Airplane was essentially the same film with a different story. How funny you find buildings shaped as boobs will determine how much you enjoy The Naked Gun. I, of course, love buildings shaped like boobs. Then again, my dating life ain't so grand, so what do you expect? Gags of that nature permeate the entire film. Movies like Dumb and Dumber and There's Something About Mary owe a great deal to the Zucker style of comedy. Audiences watch those films and laugh out loud; I just wish they'd remember that it was already done before, and done much better. Though The Naked Gun often times treads towards the lewd and tasteless, it never wallows in gross out humor. Whereas many comedies of today linger on penises caught in zippers and farting jokes, The Naked Gun doesn't have time for that as its always off to its next joke or pun. And more than likely it's a funny one.
The Naked Gun is presented in anamorphic 1.78:1 widescreen. The image is very good with only slight troubles. Colors were bright with no muting or fading. Blacks were thick and solid, as were grays. Some grain and speck were present, but not enough to detour you from enjoying the film. The transfer, while certainly not perfect, is adequate.
Audio for The Naked Gun is also on par with the video quality. The Naked Gun has been given a new sound mix in Dolby Digital 5.1. The sound is quite well done, though the music score by Ira Newborn tends to be the most prominent feature for surround systems. Hiss and distortion were not present, and the effects are solid if not a bit singular. The score is really the most used in the 5.1 track with everything else coming secondary.
Paramount has bestowed upon us a rare treat for Naked Gun fans: a commentary track by director/writer David Zucker, producer Robert Weiss and host Peter Tildon. The track is almost as entertaining as the film is. Of course, when you get this many wacky people into a room together, the topics are going to tangent like Crispin Glover on David Letterman. The good news is that the boys don't deter from making cracks about ol' O.J. Simpson. I'd tell you the lines, but then it would just end up spoiling the fun for you. This is one of the most entertaining commentary tracks recorded for a DVD and definitely worth the listen.
Also included is an anamorphic theatrical trailer. The Naked Gun trailer is one of the only movie trailers ever to give away about a million jokes from the movie and still have great stuff left over for the feature.
If you don't think that large latex body condoms are funny, then you absolutely will not enjoy The Naked Gun. This is the type of movie that people either love or hate. I have never met someone who thought The Naked Gun was just "mildly funny." You'll either bust a ball laughing or scowl the whole way through.
For around 25 dollars this is a bit pricey, but if you're a fan of comedy this will be well worth your buying dollar. Every time I watch this film I find something new to laugh at. A definite renter and a keeper for days when you need to brighten up and giggle. You're not getting great filmmaking...just great laughs.
Free to go and make the world laugh and laugh! Now I need to find my giant latex condoms for my date tonight...Case dismissed!
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (French)
Running Time: 84 Minutes
Release Year: 1988
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Commentary Track by David Zucker, Robert Weiss, and Peter Tildon
* Theatrical Trailer