The Naked Gun: From The Files of Police Squad!

30 Jun

Image

When Queen Elizabeth II visits America and attends a baseball game, Vincent Ludwig (Ricardo Montalban) hatches a plan to assassinate her, involving an unknowing baseball player. Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielson) discovers the plan, and The Naked Gun: From The Files of Police Squad! follows his attempts to foil it.

The Naked Gun is directed and written by the same guys who brought us Airplane!, which is one of my very favourite comedy films of all time. I also have a soft spot for another film of theirs that is in much the same vein, Top Secret!. When struggling for something to watch my friend suggested this movie, and realising those facts I jumped at the chance to watch it.

It didn’t take too long for me to be laughing so hard I was genuinely in quite a deal of pain. These films trade on sight gags, some absurd slapstick and a barrage of word-play jokes. The plot is almost entirely irrelevant, essentially just providing a back drop to joke after joke.

Image

The reaction of me and my friend to so, so many of the jokes was to affectionately shout “It’s so stupid!”, or “This is ridiculous”. It can often seem that the jokes in the films of David Zucker, Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams are stupid. That’s not an insult by the way; whenever we said this it was always whilst laughing. When I consider the film again though, I realise that even to say that is doing the writers a monumental disservice. For, whilst these jokes are silly and absurd, they are also intelligent. I always found the beauty of Airplane! was that once you’ve watched about 15 minutes of it, you can predict the punch line of many of the jokes. It suited me just fine that The Naked Fun proved to be much the same.

There was one joke in particular that demonstrated this to such an extent that well before the punch line, I actually shouted at the TV in anticipation of how much it was going to make me laugh. It was only a simple joke (look away now if you don’t want to know it); upon returning home to find a love interest in his kitchen, Drebin says he’ll be a back in a minute, he just wants to “change into something a little more comfortable”. You can see a mile off what’s coming, and when Drebin returned only in a different suit I laughed so hard that I was temporarily incapacitated. It made my insides hurt, I couldn’t speak and my eyes watered so much I was momentarily blinded

What this film does so well, as the others of its ilk did before it, is provide a movie you can’t take your eyes off without feeding you any level of sentiment. Sure, there is a story, but there’s no reason to care about it. It’s so broadly drawn so as to allow for all the jokes they can cram it and it’s a format that works perfectly. Even the slapstick elements of the film are strikingly intelligent. They both mock and pay homage to a age-old comedy trait. I am not a particularly big fan of slapstick as a rule, but as with so much else in this film, people falling over had tears spilling quickly down my cheeks.

Image

If this film falls down anywhere I’d say it’s the end. I found it a little overdrawn and, much more than what had gone before the jokes became a little hit-and-miss. It went down a route that always disappoints me; taking one good joke and bludgeoning you to death with it. The rest of the film is so funny and so well judged that it’s a surprise they went down this route. Fortunately, it’s not enough to take the shine off an excellent comedy.

Lesley Nielson is the true star of this picture. His comic timing is impeccable, and it often feels like he was born to play this (and similar) roles.

Perhaps not quite a classic in the same way as Airplane! before it, this is still a deceptively clever comedy that hits you with laugh after laugh, occasionally letting you rest with a light chuckle instead. Let down a little by a slightly misjudged ending, this is still wonderfully quotable and will forever now be lodged in my conscience as a highlight of it’s genre.

7/10

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: