The Naked Gun

The Naked Gun (1988) Director: David Zucker

★★★★☆

The Naked Gun is a hilarious crime comedy spoof told as a goofy film-noir satire. It was based on a television show entitled “Police Squad!” that was cancelled after a mere six episodes. The Naked Gun follows Leslie Nielsen’s career-boosting role in Airplane! I also watched the sequels, The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear (1991); and The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult (1994) and they are both also delightful comedies.

This laugh riot-inducing film stars Leslie Nielsen as Police Lieutenant Frank Drebin, a dim-witted officer who uncovers an assassination attempt against Queen Elizabeth II while he is coupled with Priscilla Presley and a slough of other actors, including O.J. Simpson, George Kennedy, and Weird Al Yankovic to name a few. The film opens with a ridiculous meeting of international gangsters, including what appears to be Moummar Gaddafi, Idi Amin, the Ayatollah, Arafat (wearing a “Hello My Name Is Yasser” nametag), Gorbachev, Fidel Castro and others. They try to hatch a plot against the United States but Drebin attacks them all as an undercover servant, cleans the mark off Gorbachev’s forehead, and escapes home to find a huge parade for Weird Al Yankovic.

Soon a plot in uncovered to kill the Queen of England at a baseball game by Victor Ludwig (played by Ricardo Montalban who was selected for the role after playing Khan in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan). Drebin, an American version of Inspector Clouseau, bungles the operation and is kicked off the force. And another officer named Nordberg (O.J. Simpson) is nearly killed in a very funny sequence aboard a ship at the dock that is dealing heroin -Nordberg is shot, burns his hand, falls on wet paint, gets his hand smashed on a window sill, falls into a wedding cake, steps on a bear trap, and then falls overboard. Miraculously, he survives. Debin visits him in the hospital and accidentally gets caught in a high speed chase -he hails a student driver (the man he is chasing crashes into an oil truck, then a nuclear warhead, and finally ends up in a fireworks shop). Drebin hosts a press conference where he leaves his mic on and goes to the bathroom. Then, Drebin goes undercover at Anaheim Stadium in California as an umpire and as the star-spangled banner singer (Enrico Pallazzo) before he confronts and kills Ludwig at the top of the stadium with a dart. Ludwig falls to his death and is crushed by a bus, then a steamroller, and finally the USC Marching Band. At the end, Drebin and his paramour wind up together when foils anther unexpected plot on his life. Nordberg shows up to congratulate Drebin but his wheelchair is pushed down a flight of stairs and onto the baseball field.

The film is filled with nonstop absurd gags and puns, but here are some of the best lines:

(looking out over the ocean) “You wanna take a dinghy?”
Drebin: “No, no I took care of that at the press conference”

(Ludwig opening a cigar box): “Cuban?”
Drebin: “No, my father was Dutch-Irish, my father was from Wales.”

“Same old story: boy finds girl, boy loses girl, girl finds boy, boy forgets girl, boy remembers girl, girl dies in tragic blimp accident over the Orange Bowl on New Year’s Day.”

Singing the National Anthem: “And the rockets red glare….buncha bombs in the air…came proof to the night that we still had a flag. For the home of the land…”

“It’s Enrico Pallazzo!” -a random baseball fan when he recognizes Debin, mistaking him for the star-spangled banner singer.

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