Skip to main content

MMYIF: The Naked Gun

My Misspent Youth In Films...

The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!
Directed by: David Zucker
Starring: Leslie Nielson, Priscilla Presley, O.J. Simpson
Released: December 2, 1988

Incompetent police Detective Frank Drebin must foil an attempt to assassinate Queen Elizabeth II.

What I Thought Then

I thought Leslie Nielson was a comic genius based on this movie, its sequel, and the various other spoofs he made.

What I Think Now

I've said it before, but satire is extremely hard to pull off, and I generally don't think Abrams and Zucker are as good at it as they're reputed to be. Their best works tend to be remakes of actual schlock rather than send-ups of shlocky trends in genre pieces. Notably, Airplane! is a remake of Zero Hour with jokes added in, and the pilot episode of Police Squad! is essentially a remake of the second season premier of the show M Squad. Side note: do people know that Police Squad! was a television show? Or that The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (seriously, with the exclamation points) was essentially a continuation of it? It only ran for six episodes, and also starred Leslie Nielson as Frank Drebin doing the deadpan silliness that would define the rest of his career. Side note to the side note: do people know that Leslie Nielson wasn't known for comedy until the 80s? It's kind of jarring to go back and watch Prom Night and see him in a serious role. And then it's even more jarring to realize that Prom Night came out after Airplane!

Anyway, all of that heavy caveating aside... The Naked Gun is pretty darn good, actually. I grew up watching reruns of Dragnet on Nick At Nite, so I instantly recognized the tone that was being aped. Police Squad! was a television show satirizing television shows, but when the concept was moved over the big screen, the plot also got bigger, giving it a little bit of a remove from the "gritty" crime dramas of the seventies. In some ways, The Naked Gun feels more like a spy thriller than a police procedural. And the raised stakes just makes the inherent silliness of the movie feel that much sillier. The plot actually makes sense and has a bit of an arc to it, instead of just being a framework to hang comic vignettes on (looking at you, early John Hughes). It's 90 minutes long, which is the perfect length for a broad comedy (looking at you, late Judd Apatow). The jokes are funny. Oh, they're dumb and sophomoric, but they're relentless and they mostly land. The only thing that's aged... not "poorly", but definitely weirdly... is that O.J. Simpson is here in a prominent role. But he doesn't have all that much screen time, and when he does, he's very watchable. If you can get past the whole thing about how he probably murdered his wife.


Yes. Even with the O.J. Simpson weirdness hanging over its head, it's still a fairly entertaining comedy.

Tune in next week to find out what they named the dog...

In My Misspent Youth In Films, Kurt is going through the movies he grew up on. Read the explainer or see more posts.


Popular posts from this blog

On Getting Laser Eyes

Last week I got Lasik. I was looking forward to not having to deal with glasses getting smudged by my kids or slipping off my face. I figured that not needing them would be pretty convenient. However, the words I heard over and over from other people who'd already done it were: "life-changing." That seemed to be overstating a bit. Convenient, yes, but life-changing? I didn't get it. I get it now. I've had some kind of vision correction, either glasses or contacts, for the last thirty-odd years, which is nearly as far back as I can remember. And what I hadn't realized was the extent to which this had become part of my identity. It's not that I thought glasses were cool because I wore them--although I did and they are. It's that the ability to see was, for me, artificial and temporary. And my vision was pretty bad, so my natural state was one of... not so much "blindness" as "isolation." There was a layer of vagueness that sat bet

100 Album: "Game Of Thrones Season 3 Soundtrack" by Ramin Djawadi

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the  explainer  or view  the master list . Artist:  Ramin Djawadi Title:   Game Of Thrones, Season 3 Soundtrack Released:  2013 Genre:  DAH duh, duh-duh-DAH duh, duh-duh-DAH duh He's not as big a name as Hans Zimmer or John Williams or the various Newmans out there, but Ramin Djawadi is easily the most interesting composer working in television right now (with due respect to Bear McCreary). Soundtracks, especially television soundtracks because they're produced so quickly, have a tendency to serve more as a wall of atmosphere than anything else. But Djawadi's work here and on Westworld  has generated some amazing musical themes. There's a strong undercurrent of leitmotif informing the way the music flows together and the themes those motifs are built around are damned  catchy--which you know if you got the joke in the genre description above. While all of the soundtracks for GoT  are very listenable, this is m

100 Albums: "Fashion Nugget" by Cake

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the  explainer  or view  the master list . Artist:  Cake Title:   Fashion Nugget Released:  1996 Genre:  lo-fi indie alt-rock There was a summer when I was in college that I spent every spare minute playing Super Bomber Man  on the SNES and listening to Cake's Fashion Nugget  (and one other album that I will get to shortly). Cake broke in the late era of grunge with The Distance , a--ahem--driving song about a man racing to get back to his love, or something like that. The metaphor was unclear, but the song was catchy as hell. They followed it up with a cover of I Will Survive  that was much more indicative of Cake's sound: lo-fi vintage guitar, a lead trumpet, John McCrea's deadpan just-off-rhythm singing and sarcastic lyrics, and Victor Damiani's frenetic bass-playing. Fashion Nugget  was independently produced under the ethos of "if you can't make it sound clean, make it sound dirty in an interesti