The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988)
Even when you're not laughing you'll still be chuckling (as long as you're in the mood)
Fresh from tackling terrorism in Beruit, with his own unique hands on
style, Lt Frank Drebin is immediately called onto the job to
investigate the near fatal shooting of a fellow officer. Det Nordberg
was gunned down investigating a case in the docks and Drebin's
investigation begins with the company that Nordberg was undercover with
– that of pillar of the community Vincent Ludwig. As Frank falls for
Ludwig's PA, the beautiful Jane Spencer, he uncovers proof of a
dastardly plot by Ludwig – but who will believe him?
If there is a man, woman or child on this earth who can say, hand on
heart, that they just don't find Airplane, Naked Gun, Police Squad and
the like funny then I would very much like to meet the sad sack just to
discover what it takes to elicit a smile from them. Needless to say,
this sort of film is very much my type of thing but not to the point
where I cannot spot a good one from a bad one. In fact one of the big
downsides of this film is that it did create many copies that just
couldn't do it as well – so we have had spoofs of all sorts of genres
recently, but too many have more hits than misses.
It is to this films credit that it has a very high hit/miss ratio and I
enjoy it so much because the laughs keep coming. The material is very
silly but it is the constant straight face that it delivers it with
that is perfect and makes it work. Other films of the ilk have been
overly silly without keeping this straight face. However, our
characters here seem oblivious – apart from the odd one who gives the
other a funny look etc, and this makes the goings on even funnier. The
plot is silly but that doesn't matter as you will be laughing too much
to really care. Having seen it so often I have stopped roaring the way
I did the first time but I still chuckled all the way.
The writing and direction is spot on – delivering sharp lines that make
me laugh due to their sheer unexpectedness or the way they are so very
out of place as well as sight gags that are imaginative and clever.
However lets not forget a delivery by a very talented cast who make the
material work. Praise goes to Nielsen in the lead; he may have worn his
role thin over the years with typecasting and, shall we say 'less than
perfect' material but give him the tools and he'll do you a job. He can
be straight, he can dither or he can just be a clown and he does them
all here – his delivery is great whether it's action or reaction shots.
Likewise I felt the rest of the cast did well even if most of them are
given reaction shots to Drebin. Presley is straight and funny for it
while Kennedy seems to fit into the material with ease. OJ doesn't have
as much chance to be funny and seems a little stiff in the scenes he is
in, but he is still good – just pales a little when next to the others.
I love Montalban and he uses his ooze really well in this film – and
his reaction shots are very good. The support is all good but it is
Nielsen doing his (now) time-honoured turn as spoof-master than steals
Overall I love this genre and consider this film (indeed the series) to
be up there with Police Squad and Airplane. It is not as hilarious as
Airplane but it has way more hits than misses and is relentlessly
funny. As a film it isn't perfect but anyone watching this who
complains about plot holes, lack of character development or lack of
narrative really have missed the point.