Naked Guns" on DVD
"Airplane" set a new
standard, as it were, for lowbrow, slapstick movie comedy, and the brains
behind it followed up, eventually, with "The Naked Gun" series of movies.
Originally a six part
TV series called "Police Squad," the concept follows Lt. Frank Drebin
(Leslie Nielsen) as he bumbles his way through life. The first film "The
Naked Gun" sees him attempting to foil an assassination attempt on Queen
Elizabeth while she's visiting Los Angeles.
The movie (in fact,
all three of the movies) sets the tone right from frame one. Frank, supposedly
on vacation in Beirut, bursts in on a meeting of international bad guys
(including the Ayatollah Khomeini, Moammar Gaddafi, Yasser Arafat and
others), and single handedly disrupts their plans.
Back in California,
at his regular job on Police Squad, Drebin stumbles across the assassination
plot, which uses mind control to force otherwise innocent people to become
As they do in all
three films, Priscilla Presley provides the love interest, George Kennedy
is Drebin's boss Ed Hocken, and O.J. Simpson is a perpetually dumped upon
co-worker who has wreaked upon him probably just slightly less havoc than
the Goldman family would like to see done in real life.
Guest stars include
Ricardo Montalban, the Seattle Mariners and the California Angels, as
well as the TV play by play team. Everyone gets a chance to mug for the
camera and participate in some not-too-subtle gags, but what would a Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker
film be otherwise?
As with this filmmaking
trio's other efforts, it's virtually impossible not to laugh out loud
at least once - and you may find yourself snickering on many occasions,
some of which you may be embarrassed to admit.
The DVD is in widescreen,
enhanced for 16x9 TV's, though the picture's a tad soft for our liking.
Audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 "surround" with very little from the rear channels.
Extras include the trailer, and a "group commentary" from co-writer/director
David Zucker, producer Robert Weiss, and "host" Peter Tilden. The commentary
was done in year 2000 specifically for the DVD release and in places is
almost as funny as the movie itself.
Naked Gun 21/2:
The Smell of Fear The second film looks and sounds much better than
the original, at least on the DVD but, more importantly, manages to keep
up the tradition of "excellence" established in the first film.
All the regulars are
back, but this time the bad guy is Robert Goulet, who's out to destroy
the environment. The film's kind of a politically correct joke on politically
correct issues, and it manages to lampoon some sacred cows in the process.
Chief among these
sacred cows is then-president George Bush and his wife Barbara, who seem
to be favorite targets of the liberal Hollywood elite. The Bushes are
humiliated in all manner of manners in Naked Gun 21/2, and it's very funny.
Interestingly, during the commentary that accompanies the disc, and which
is basically a continuation of the commentary on the first movie's DVD,
the makers' liberal/Democratic bent becomes obvious, which makes the attacks
on the Bushes a tad mean spirited - especially when you consider that
Democrat Clinton is barely touched in the third movie. The Bushes are
big people, though, and undoubtedly laughed as much as anyone else at
It makes one wonder,
however, what the reaction would have been if a Republican-leaning team
of filmmakers had given Clinton the same treatment. We can hear the cries
of "Unfair!", "Mean Spirited," "Etc.!", "Etc.!" now. But we digress...
"The Smell of Fear"
apparently did better at the box office than did the first film, though
we find it isn't quite as funny. It's still a hoot that's well worth seeing,
however, especially in the widescreen DVD format.
The picture is appreciably
sharper and the audio appreciably better than the first film's DVD, which
is an added bonus. Extras include the "gang commentary" and two theatrical
trailers. The DVD is enhanced for 16x9 TV's and the audio is Dolby Digital
5.1 surround, though again there isn't a lot of surround.
Naked Gun 33 1/3:
The Final Insult. They appear to have been running out of ideas in
the third film (it only runs 82 minutes, including a well padded set of
closing credits), and the filmmakers admit as much in their commentary.
Despite that, the
third "Naked Gun" is almost as enjoyable as the others, and includes some
high profile cameos from high powered actors who must have been chomping
at the bit to be made fun of.
"III" opens with a
spoof of the Brian de Palma "The Untouchables" film, and there's a terrific
bit of action in the background with O.J. Simpson (back for the third
time) catching babies. The main story is about a criminal plot to bomb
an important site in Los Angeles, which turns out to be Oscar night. To
get there, however, you have to go through the usual Drebin misadventures
- and isn't that why you got the movie in the first place?
Drebin and Jane (Priscilla
Presley again) are now married, and she's working as a lawyer while he
stays home with the housework. Frank gets drawn back into the action again,
however, when Ed (George Kennedy again) asks him to find out some dirt
on a mysterious woman (Anna Nicole Smith - who proves she's nothing more
than a pretty, well, more than face, when it comes to thespian abilities.
But that's undoubtedly why she's there anyway). Fred Ward is the bad guy
with bad intentions.
A rather large part
of the movie takes place at the Oscar ceremony and, in typical Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker
(and Nielsen, it seems) tradition, what they do to Oscar night is cruel
and unusual punishment. Still, so's watching Whoopi Goldberg host it in
The "Naked Gunslingers"
turn the Oscar TV show into a shambles, and you howl along with them as
they do it.
The weakest of the
three films, it's still worth seeing, especially for the Oscar night carnage.
The DVD's widescreen
(enhanced for 16x9 TV's) video and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround audio (with
by far the most surround effects of all three films) looks and sounds
great. You get the same extras as before (though only one trailer), including
the "gang commentary" that's almost as funny as much of the movie.
Like "Airplane!" before
it, "The Naked Gun" series is highbrow lowbrow at its best and has spawned
many an imitator. It also seems to have spawned a whole new direction
to Leslie Nielsen's career, which must please the veteran Canadian actor
to no end (and he does the parts well, though they all seem to be the
The imitators don't
usually end up being as unabashedly funny as the Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker
efforts, though, and the jokes and gags often seem forced (as opposed
to merely being lame or obvious, a la Z/A/Z' films).
So if you're looking
for a funny couple of nights at the home theater (all three films run
less than 4.5 hours, so you could technically watch them all in one sitting,
though the breaks you'll need to take when in danger of peeing yourself
will add to the running time), you could do lots worse than this trilogy
from Paramount Home Video.
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