Worth A Look: 52.78%
Pretty Bad: 5.56%
Total Crap: 0%
1 review, 30 user ratings
|Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear, The
by Doug Bentin
You hear this so often in discussions of genre parody, you might be tempted to take it seriously: You have to love something in order to parody it well.Really? Okay, maybe so, most of the time, but David Zucker and Jim Abrahams and Pat Proft may be the exceptions to the rule. They’re anarchists. No, better yet, they’re nihilists. When it comes to comedy, nothing’s sacred. No person is respected or respectable. Sex is funny. Death is funny. Pain is funny. Sex and pain together are funny. Even Zsa Zsa Gabor is funny. Or is that the same thing as sex and pain?
"You gotta be smart to be this dumb."
Even Mel Brooks sometimes pauses to let the nurse take his temperature. Not these guys.
With them, every vision is a sight gag and every line of dialogue is a pun or the setup for a joke or a punchline, or all three at once. A joke comes flying at your nose and before you can laugh another one hits you on the ear.
Sometimes you laugh and you’re not entirely sure why. Before the opening credits begin you see that this is “un film de David Zucker.” You laugh, but what exactly is the joke? Is director Zucker making fun of himself or is he kidding the grandiose claims of auteurist critics? Maybe he’s pointing his finger at directors who want to take too much credit for themselves. Or d), all of the above.
We laugh when the crazy lady gets out of her vehicle, walks back to the police car with the spinning red light on the roof and slaps it. Going back to 1991, you’d know that the woman is Zsa Zsa Gabor (and you’d even know who the hell Zsa Zsa Gabor was) and that she’d made the papers for slapping a policeman who told her that her driver’s license was expired. Are we laughing at the silliness of slapping a police car, or at the arrogance of this dame, or at the woman herself or the cult of celebrity? It’s funny. Just laugh.
The story, such as it is, opens in The White House. There’s a portrait of Davy Crockett on the wall, the first of several times Ol’ Davy will make an appearance. He’s a trademark for Zucker. Don’t ask.
President and Mrs. George Bush the Elder (John Roarke and Margery Ross) are walking down the hall when a door swings open and catches Barbara smack on the nose, knocking her to the floor, and Lt. Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) enters the scene, oblivious to the destruction he leaves in his wake.
It’s an odd feature of the comedy that occasionally the characters seem aware that something odd is said or done. They pause and their eyes shoot back and forth as if they’re frantically trying to figure out what the hell is going on. Their lips part as if they are going to say something, and then don’t. It’s the same reaction from all of them, and it’s reminiscent of those Goofy cartoons in which every character if played by the Goof. These Zuckeroids know that the world is crazy and they have instantaneous flashes of sanity, but ultimately they can’t resist adding to the madness.
Drebin, who will work with the rest of his Police Squad colleagues to rescue a kidnapped scientist and save the world from greedy energy magnates, meets up with his lost love from the first film, Jane Spencer (Priscilla Presley). Sparks are rekindled between them, but she doesn’t want to be hurt again and leaves Frank alone in the Blue Note, a bar the walls of which are festooned with sad pictures of the world’s greatest disasters—the sinking of the Titanic, the explosion of the Hindenburg, Michael Dukakis. Frank is reluctant to admit the degree of his own pain and yells at her, “I love being single. I haven’t has this much sex since I was a Boy Scout leader.”
Will law, order and love triumph? What, you expect me to tell you?
Written by David Zucker and Pat Proft, the movie is proof that it helps to be smart to be dumb. And vice versa. The biggest part of the joke going back to the team’s first big hit, “Airplane!” is casting actors who weren’t known for laughing on film or in real life in goofy parts that let them kid themselves with the purest deadpan. Nielsen came out of these films a genuine comic movie star after having been a straight man in films and on TV for 30 years.
Pressley is fun, as are George Kennedy as perpetually befuddled Capt. Ed Hocken, Robert Goulet as the villain, Richard Griffiths as the missing scientist and the ringer substituted in his place, and Lloyd Bochner, who gets to briefly send up his famous moment on “The Twilight Zone.” O.J. Simpson returns as hapless Nordberg, always on the butt end of painful situation, and it’s always a treat to see O.J. somehow being tortured.
As always, the fun doesn’t end with the final fade. Jokes continue throughout the end credits, proving that absolutely nothing in the movie-making process is above burlesque.
“First Company Grip” rolls up from the bottom of the screen, and we see the grip's name, followed by “Crane Grip,” “Dolly Grip,” and “Poli-Grip.”There are diminishing returns as the Police Squad series continues, but there are still enough laugh out loud moments in this second entry to make it a lot of fun for cliché collectors.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=1454&reviewer=405
originally posted: 04/14/07 06:54:16
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