"I'll just get my gear."

Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear

You see, because it’s the second one, but they put a 1/2 on there so it doesn’t make sense. Because why would it be 1/2 unless it was a DVD release with added scenes but they didn’t have DVDs back then. That’s why it’s funny.

June 28, 1991

The Summer of 1991 was a big time for sequels, especially part 2s, so now I will attempt to write something about THE NAKED GUN 2 1/2: THE SMELL OF FEAR. The first sequel to 1988’s smash hit TV-spinoff-from-the-makers-of-AIRPLANE! NAKED GUN: FROM THE FILES OF POLICE SQUAD! is another irreverent overload of tongue-in-cheek cop drama silliness where there’s no reason to take anything about the plot (police try to foil a scheme by big oil to replace a scientist pushing a solar energy plan) seriously, and nobody wants to read me just listing some of the jokes that are funny (I like when Jane [Priscilla Presley, THE ADVENTURES OF FORD FAIRLANE] is singing “The Way We Were” to herself in the shower and the assassin creeping up on her [Anthony James, HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER] is moved to tears and starts to sing along). But maybe for this retrospective we can look at it as a time capsule of some of the things that were thought of and joked about at that period in time.

At this point, luckily, the novelty of Leslie Nielsen applying his hard-earned character actor skills to playing a clueless buffoon was still strong. Neither he nor these filmmakers had yet worn out their comedy cred on the sort of slapdash, random-selection-of-instantly-dated-references shit they would soon become associated with. And it had the advantage of being more focused than later “spoof” movies that just tried to smoosh together 7 or 8 recent unrelated movies into a vaguely humor-shaped booger ball. With the exception of a love scene directly parodying the then-famous pottery wheel scene from GHOST (which was directed by director David Zucker’s brother Jerry, also executive producer here), 2 1/2 is wise enough to hang its parade of sight gags, puns and non-sequiturs on a police procedural type of story. Or I guess kind of a spy movie. But it stays basically on topic.

In a certain way, though, the parody was already way out of date. The little-watched show that spawned it, Police Squad!, was almost ten years old, and the shows it was parodying were 25-30 years old. So here we have a movie that’s not a period piece – it’s set very specifically during the presidency of George H.W. Bush – yet it uses that trope of the gray haired, hard-boiled-narrating detective in a suit and tie, set to big band music. That year “cop movie” meant SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, ONE GOOD COP, NEW JACK CITY and OUT FOR JUSTICE. But I guess we didn’t necessarily want to see Leslie Nielsen wearing a beret and beating a guy with a pool stick.

(Incidentally, this movie is actually pretty prophetic about Steven Seagal’s life; there’s a scene where Frank insists on driving a tank as part of a raid, and he runs over a dog house, among other things. 20 years later, Seagal would ram a tank into the house of a suspected cockfighter, allegedly killing a puppy in the process, while filming the final season of Steven Seagal: Lawman with pardoned-by-Trump-human-rights-abuser Sheriff Joe Arpaio.)

The movie opens with Nielsen’s Frank Drebin attending a state dinner with President Bush. It’s to announce the new environmental policy masterminded by Dr. Meinheimer (Richard Griffiths, GREYSTOKE), but Frank was invited in honor of his “1,000th drug dealer kill,” which he humbly admits includes two people he backed over by accident who luckily turned out to be drug dealers.

Frank enters confidently swinging a door right into the face of Barbara Bush (Margery Jane Ross, “Barbara Bush Look A-Like,” HERO) – neither he or anyone else around notice, which becomes a running gag throughout the movie as he keeps knocking her over, off of and into things. It’s all very stupid and nonsensical and also I can’t help but laugh at the slapstick perfection of Frank eyeing an attractive woman and pulling a chair out for her just as the First Lady tries to sit in the chair, falls on her ass and instinctively grips the tablecloth, yanking it and everything on top of it off the table. Also: the way the White House staff instantly appears to replace all of the items.

President Bush is played by John Roarke, a guy from the sketch comedy show Fridays and the puppet show D.C. Follies who had played Nixon on American Dreamer and a Reagan impersonator on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and would play Bush in THE SILENCE OF THE HAMS, “The President” in COURAGE UNDER FIRE and Kenan & Kel, Clint Eastwood on The Weird Al Show and clones of Phil Donahue, Sam Donaldson, Alan Dershowitz, Ted Koppel and Larry King in S.F.W. He does Bush pretty similar to how Dana Carvey did on SNL, but with elaborate makeup, and it’s in that old tradition of “political humor” where you’re just caricaturing their voice and mannerism and not saying anything about them at all. He could easily be replaced with a generic fictional president.

The one political area they try to dig into is making fun of Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis’s overwhelming loss in the presidential campaign against Bush, an event that had happened more than 2 1/2 years before the release of this movie. In a disaster themed restaurant, a portrait of Dukakis hangs beside photos of the Hindenberg, the Titanic, etc. An old relationship is described as, “Ancient history, like the Democratic party.” Much later an inspirational speech mentions dreaming of a world “where the Democrats will put up somebody worth voting for.”

Of course, making jokes about a specific losing candidate was guaranteed to date the movie, even if the Democrats hadn’t been about to “put up somebody” who would overwhelmingly win the next two elections.

Much later, in 2008, director David Zucker would become one of those “it’s hard to be a conservative in Hollywood” guys and direct AN AMERICAN CAROL, starring Chris Farley’s brother as a Michael Moore stand-in who the movie blames for 9-11. But back in ’91 I think he saw himself as a disaffected Democrat and/or reasonable centrist. They also throw in a joke about a bad guy being a “former arts consultant to Jesse Helms.”

(Explanation for young people/non-Americans: Helms was a notorious Republican senator from North Carolina who at that time was largely associated with his fight against the National Endowment of the Arts for having sponsored some photographs with homoerotic and [in his interpretation] anti-religious themes. He was also a despicable homophobe and old timey racist who had been around long enough to oppose busing, the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act, which he called “the single most dangerous piece of legislation ever introduced in the Congress.” In 1983 he mounted a 16-day filibuster [you had to actually stand up and talk to filibuster back then] to block the passage of the Martin Luther King holiday, passed out pamphlets connecting King to communists and Marxism, and tried to get Reagan to release FBI recordings to show King had cheated on his wife. In 1993 he told another asshole senator “Watch me make her cry,” and sang the pro-slavery song “Dixie” to the first Black woman senator, Carol Moseley Braun, while she was trapped in an elevator with him. In the ‘90s he was considered one of the last “Old South” senators [in other words a backwards old kook], but unfortunately most of that is mainstream Republican orthodoxy all these years later.)

Speaking of homophobes, this being a 1991 comedy with rapid fire jokes, you better believe there are some about LGBT lifestyles that wouldn’t cut the mustard today. But they’re on the mild side. They’re mostly of the “it’s wacky to mention cross dressing or gender change” variety – like, under the set dressers on the end credits there are fake listings for “cross dressers,” and they mention a Geraldo episode about “transsexual satan worshippers.” I wouldn’t go to bat for it but I did laugh at Frank saying “Let’s get that other artist. The one who never dates, lives with those two guys,” since the joke is that their current sketch artist is drawing super-horny pictures of Jane.

I was more bothered by the aforementioned speech including a line about being able to “go to a 7-11 without an interpreter,” a cliche anti-immigrant sentiment I think is meant to be relatable. These guys from other countries, what a hassle for me, am I right?

There’s also a running Zucker brothers gag that the worst thing in the world is to get on a bus and then see its destination is Detroit. THE KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE is also filled with “Detroit is a hellhole” jokes. I don’t know specifically what they mean by that, but I got a guess. Sorry, Detroit friends.

But if I’m going to be dissecting the politics of the thing I definitely have to give them credit for making the biggest theme in the movie an environmental one. But I shouldn’t fall for calling that political either – it’s easy to forget that at the time caring about the environment did not fall to one side of the political spectrum. To his credit, Zucker does seem to be an actual environmentalist even after his conversion, being an early advocate of electric cars and a board member of a group called TreePeople.

Though I’ve picked out some of the no-longer-cool jokes (I didn’t mention the boy scout leader one), the overall feeling is not mean-spirited, but a pretty infectious silliness. It’s certainly diminished returns after the first NAKED GUN, but I was laughing in spite of myself. I just enjoy gags like when there are a bunch of establishing shots of famous Washington DC landmarks, and then the White House, and then the late addition of a subtitle saying “THE WHITE HOUSE,” and then an additional one saying “WASHINGTON D.C.,” just to be sure we know. And the police station having “POLICE STATION (WASHINGTON D.C.)” carved into its exterior. Stuff like that.

Unlike other movies this summer, I don’t think there’s a specific line about it being the ‘90s or a reference to The Terminator/Arnold Schwarzenegger, unless you count the funny gag where during the love scene an oiled-up body builder fills in for Nielsen’s chest closeups.

NAKED GUN 2 1/2: THE SMELL OF FEAR may not be discussed much today, but it was inarguably a hit. It opened at #1, knocking ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES to #2, and would end up #9 at the U.S. box office for the year. That’s well above movies people still care about today like BOYZ N THE HOOD and POINT BREAK.

But in less than a week we would see a better part 2, the one that (to me) defines the summer.

References of the era: A cameo by Zsa Zsa Gabor (A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS), who slaps a traffic cop, since it was considered the height of hilarity that in 1989 the Hungarian-accented famous-mostly-for-being-famous actress had slapped a traffic cop. Some line about the actress Martha Raye and her ads for Poli-Grip denture cream. A rare sincere line in the end credits saying “welcome home” to Iraq War I General Norman Schwarzkopf.

References older than the era: There’s an as-far-as-I-can-tell random re-enactment of the famous twist ending to the Twilight Zone episode “To Serve Man.”

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62 Responses to “Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear”

  1. That was the first NAKED GUN movie that I had ever seen. I’m pretty sure I knew AIRPLANE by then, but for some reason, the rapid fire absurd slapstick style of this one totally blew my young mind. Later on I saw part 1 and it will forever hold the honor of being the first thing that ever made me laugh tears! Up until then I thought it was just an expression, because I simply couldn’t imagine how someone would laugh so hard that they cry. But the scene with the baseball bloopers did it for me.

  2. When the first NAKED GUN came out, I thought it was the funniest movie ever made.

    This one…is also a movie I’ve seen. I can verify that much.

  3. The first movie that made me laugh so much that tears and stomach pain appeared was RETURN OF THE PINK PANTHER. When it comes to NAKED GUN movies, this is my favourite. The “play it Sam” bit is gold!

  4. Thanks for the Twilight Zone mention, Vern, it allowed me to identify which one of the NAKED GUN movies you were reviewing. It must’ve been a little weird for Lloyd Bochner to see his 40-year career (and casting in this) summed up in one punchline.

    It’s a commonplace these days to remark on Nielsen’s late-blooming comedy career and surprising comedy chops, but it always seemed that Priscilla Presley’s capacity for deadpan is equally remarkable. Not to mention O. J.’s physical comedy!

  5. I have never seen any of the NAKED GUN movies. No idea why not. I didn’t have any opposition to them. I liked other movies like them – AIRPLANE, SPACE BALLS, TOP SECRET. So, my question is, should I see them now? Or are they too much of their time?

  6. “the overall feeling is not mean-spirited”

    I don’t know where it was, but somewhere, maybe in an audio commentary or a making of or even a film scholar analysis, it was mentioned that one of the reasons why these movies resonated to well, was their “innocence”. The jokes aren’t meant to offend or gross you out and except for the villains, the characters aren’t assholes and everybody just gets along with the chaos that ensues around them. No hard feelings.

  7. I was really into this whole genre as a “tween” (is that term still used?), would champion even disreputable additions to the cannon like SPY HARD and WRONGFULLY ACCUSED (which does have a few genuine highlights). When I was a little older, and painfully resisting it, I got hyped for SCARY MOVIE 3 when I found out David Zucker was directing it, despite having had little interest in the first two.

    So on my judgement day I’ll have to answer to getting excited by a film by a white guy stealing a franchise from a family of black creatives. At the behest of the Weinsteins. And that movie was SCARY MOVIE 3. And I enjoyed it.

    These days I’m less into these films, more because I feel they can only sustain a certain number of viewings than because of dated elements. I still enjoy the POLICE SQUAD TV series though, I feel the format of TV better suits and sustains this kind of rapid-fire gag barrage. RUTHLESS PEOPLE is still great though.

    It seems to be close to an accepted truism these days that “comedy dates poorly”, and there’s plenty of evidence to support this, but when you think about it comedy from the first three quarters of the twentieth century is a disproportionate amount of what has survived to enjoy some degree of ongoing resonance. What drama from the silent era is still as recognised and enjoyed as Harold Lloyd, let alone Keaton and Chaplin? And THE HONEYMOONERS and I LOVE LUCY and even GILLIGAN’S ISLAND and shit have lived in our consciousness much longer than the shows our fear smelling friends here were making fun of. While this is obviously a fraction of what was produced, and it would be hard to deny a lot of this stuff is dated, not particularly socially progressive etc., is it just that some work hits an age where we accept a certain level of datedness, or is there something in the meaner of spirit comedy of the 1970s-2000s that we’re struggling with now?

  8. Maggie, while that style of humor might have lost what made it so special, I would say you should give it a try. Back then, ZAZ were still on their creative height, so many jokes might get a laugh out of you, just because of how perfectly staged they are.

    No guarantee, though.

  9. grimgrinningchris

    June 28th, 2021 at 11:41 am

    The other reason these work better (from Airplane through the Naked Gun series) is that while they may contain pop culture references that wind up dated, that’s not ALL they are… it’s not just a collection of recreations of trailer moments from other current movies where the “joke” is that someone poops or farts or gets kicked in the balls. There are LEGIT jokes in them. Puns, wordplay, political (both sides) humor, jokes going on in backgrounds that aren’t even focused on… call backs to Keaton and the Marx brothers and not just last summers one weekend smash…

  10. Pacman, I always took “comedy dates poorly” as something that was only related to either “topical” jokes (like the references that Vern mentioned in this review) or, well, stuff that was, to quote Whoopie’s excellent introduction to LOONEY TUNES, “wrong then and is wrong now”. There are Marx Brothers movies, that have scenes of black stereotypes singing “woogie boogie”, but I will be damned if the non-racist vaudevillain slapstick that follows quickly afterwards, isn’t in 2021 still one of the funniest things you will ever see!

  11. I haven’t seen this in a long time, but my memory of it back in the day was that it wasn’t as funny as the first one, but still decently funny in its own right. It was the the Naked Gun 3, which came out in 94 or 95, where I remember thinking this was played out and they should have left it at two.

    BTW, for my money the funniest Zucker Brothers parody is TOP SECRET, which is sort of the forgotten one. It came out between Airplane 1 and 2, and to this day it slays me every time I watch it in its pure silliness.

  12. How many of you will take Naked Gun 33 1/3 over 2? The jokes are cruder but the Hollywood Awards finale is just flat out hilarious.

  13. Pacman2.5 The Smell of Pac

    June 28th, 2021 at 4:55 pm

    I remember the Teaser for 3 being kind of a big deal at the time, but I can only find a Super 8 camera rip of it online. It convinced you it was a Merchant Ivory-esque prestige movie until Drebin (in uniform) opens a door and knocks the “lead” into the water. To this day about half of comedy trailers try the “this is a serious movie…rugpull!” move and almost never work, but this one did; I remember seeing it on a Box Office countdown show, possibly before I really knew what these films were, and it really stuck with me.

    The film itself is OK but in my memory it’s the least of the three.

  14. That’s a good point, Borg9. I am negligent in not mentioning how good Presley is in this. The deadpan-ness of the movie acting like we care about these two getting back together wouldn’t work so well if she wasn’t. But I guess the combination of the particular role, being famous for who she was married to and sexism in Hollywood must’ve made it hard to translate into more movie roles. Other than the other sequel, she’s only had TV appearances since.

  15. I’ll take 33 1/3 over 2 1/2. I had just gotten my license and could go see whatever I wanted. It was so funny I just decided fuck it, and went back to see it Saturday night.

  16. Vern, i like Presley as well. I think she’s hotter in 1 and 2 1/2 though.

  17. Thanks to this review, my next punk rock band will be called “Booger Ball.”

    I am also traumatized by Seagal killing a puppy, and will be forwarding my therapist bills.

  18. See them Maggie! I’d say this even if it was the year 2250 and you had just come out of a 300 year cryo-sleep. I’d say this even if you were a head floating in a jar of fluid. I’d say this if your consciousness was currently preserved inside giant servers. NAKED GUNS 1&2 transcend time. 3…..maybe not so much.

  19. Of all the movies one or all the Zuckers were involved in, I think RUTHLESS PEOPLE was the masterpiece. And RAT RACE deserves a honorable mentioning.

  20. I remember about a year before RAT RACE (autocorrect changed this to FAR FACE, which would also be a good name for a movie) came out a forthcoming remake of IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD was listed on IMDB. I always assumed that became RAT RACE but looking into it it’s not an official remake. That’s actually by the “serious” Zucker who made GHOST and FIRST KNIGHT; I think some of the marketing for 2 1\2 actually noted it was “from the brother of the director of GHOST”, which most probably just took as whimsy.

    We should warn people that it ends with a Smash Mouth concert though. And yes, they do play All Star. To be fair to Smash Mouth when they complain that they were more than just SHREK they have a point. Unfortunately.

  21. Around the same time I was looking forward to forthcoming Nielsen movies 2001: A SPACE TRAVESTY (had an embarrassed DTV release years later) and TITANIC TOO: IT MISSED THE ICEBERG (sadly never made).

  22. I love RAT RACE, but I always had a soft spot for big ensemble slapstick extravaganzas.

  23. While joining the chorus of those extolling Priscilla Pressley’s underrated deadpan comedic flair, let me also give a shout out to a grizzled, industry veteran tough guy who also unleashed some potent comedic chops in these movies: the late, great George Kennedy

    The Joe Patroni of the “Airport” movies, which were the basis for AIRPLANE, which launched a spoof cottage industry that birthed the NAKED GUN(s)

  24. Presley was attached to TITANIC TOO. It seems David Hasselhoff was going to be the male lead, but reports vary as to whether Nielsen was going to appear or if he was attached to a (good lord!) rival TITANIC spoof production GIGANTIC.

    Did anyone else read Nielsen’s spoof-autobiography THE NAKED TRUTH? I remember it being pretty funny; of THE SMELL OF FEAR he said “it was the highest grossing movie of all time, and I am assured by Paramount that after a couple of years on home video it will be in profit”.

  25. I’ve told this story before but I’m going to tell it again. RAT RACE holds a special place in my heart because of 9/11. Yes, I said 9/11. It came out about a month before 9/11. For about a week after 9/11 all people were doing was watching TV, which had endless coverage of it and sad telethons supporting the families of those who died or the survivors. I finally couldn’t take it anymore and told my roommates we had to get out of the house and do something fun. We went to see RAT RACE. Apparently everyone else had that same idea because it was a packed theater and everyone laughed uproariously at everything. I doubt I would’ve had the same reaction under other circumstances, but it will forever hold a special place in my heart for giving me a release when I needed it.

    Also, I watched the first NAKED GUN last night and it was decent. I had seen many of the famous scenes, of course, so it wasn’t all new to me. I enjoyed it, but I definitely think it would’ve hit harder had I seen it back in the day.

  26. I was randomly looking at their individual solo directing jobs. Jerry Zucker was the one that came out with most of his dignity intact. His last movie to date was RAT RACE, while Jim Arahams had JANE AUSTEN’S MAFIA (Which I liked a lot back then, but haven’t seen since it came out on VHS) and David Zucker AN AMERICAN CAROL.

    All in all I think Jerry is the overall winner in terms of a solo career. He only directed three movies (GHOST, FIRST KNIGHT and RAT RACE), but two of them are damn good (and I haven’t seen FIRST KNIGHT, but don’t know anybody who liked it).

    Jim Abrahams comes in in 2nd place. Most of his solo efforts are pretty pedestrian and/or forgotten, but he does have both HOT SHOTS movies on the plus side.

    David was the biggest sellout of the three. Even if we ignore AN AMERICAN CAROL, he still did SCARY MOVIE 3 & 4 and MY BOSS’S DAUGHTER. I do like BASEKETBALL though.

  27. This flick came out when I was just the right age of teen boy who eats this stuff up! I saw it 3 times the first week. I loved it and declared it better than the first!

    (This opinion would be surpassed mere weeks later with the release of Hot Shots, which I would catch 5 times over the rest of the summer).

    I caught 2 and a half a few years back and found it charmingly silly, not as good as part 1, but not a waste of my time. (I want to check out 33 and 1/3 again, but in no rush.)

    But the gag where Nielsen is trying to signal the team “That would be mem I’ve been swimming in raw sewage. I LOVE IT!” gets me every time. The I Love It! is a refrain oft repeated in my household

  28. Like CJ this was the first one for me with the franchise as well. Now the original is in my top 10 but the sequels 2 of the few comedy sequels I did not mind. Honestly I haven’t seen it in years but still remember so much that just makes me chuckle to myself at any given moment.

    Like when Frank abruptly enters Jane’s apartment after defeating Savage, Robert Goulet’s ultimate fat, Nordberg and the bus, the really depressing loser’s haven of a bar where everything including the decor is kinda blue, Ed and the jackhammer at the sex shop etc. One of the biggest laughs I ever had in a theater as a kid which my dad still randomly brings up was THE CRYING GAME reveal in the 3rd but compared to that one this one is on another level IMO. Though Fred Ward as the baddie kinda rules.

  29. *ultimate fate is what I meant. No fat shaming here.

  30. The Winchester – Fuck Yeah, HOT SHOTS!!!

    One of the saddest things to me is how nobody talks about that one anymore. They’re always just bringing up the sequel which was another rare solid comedy sequel but come on the original is gold. The Chihuahua running joke is one of my favorites of all time. That is how you do random irreverence right.

    Can’t wait till Vern eventually reviews it in a few weeks. Looking forward to that one. Man Summer ’91 was really good for the ZAZ team. They were on fire. Arguably their peak.

  31. I wonder who’ll they get to play Nordberg in the remake?

  32. Michael Strahan

  33. Any love for THE BIG BUS? It came out in ’76 and has the same style as AIRPLANE, but none of the Zuckers or Abrahams were involved.

  34. Fuck DOUBLE Yeah Hot Shots!!

    Loved them. Although watching Hot Shots 2 in Melbourne where I was a student, the unvarnished snobbery of critics heaping praise on it because of it’s “sharp, incisive take down of brainless, macho flicks like Rambo” almost put me off. Then, and now, the Hard Core RAMBO fan in me bristled at such head-up-in-ass condescension. Then again, I find Australian critics to be a particularly snooty lot. When NAKED GUN 33 1/3 came out, almost every review mentioned the opening scene which “spoofs BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN”. No, it didn’t. It was a parody on THE UNTOUCHABLES, which no doubt paid an homage to POTEMKIN with the “pram hurtling down stairs” scene. Casually ignoring a critical and commercial hit De Palma movie that came out barely 7 years prior and holding up an Eisenstein silent film from 70 years before as the source of a NAKED GUN parody is some seriously out-of-touch shit.

    Watching HOT SHOTS, then WALL STREET and finishing off with a double bill of THE ROOKIE (EASTWOOD version) and the criminally underrated TERMINAL VELOCITY just shows what a lost promise Charlie Sheen was. Someone who could effortlessly navigate between intense drama, comedy and action, it’s a shame the man torpedoed his career with such reckless abandon.

  35. I did see THE BIG BUS a couple of times as a kid\teen, I don’t remember much beyond the graveyard scene and being pleased that Murph from THE BLUES BROTHERS was in it (my favourite film at the time).

  36. I never saw THE BIG BUS, but its German title is supposed to make it sound like a sequel to AIRPLANE.

    AIRPLANE’s German title (translated) THE UNBELIEVABLE TRIP IN A CRAZY AIRPLANE, the sequel was THE UNBELIEVABLE TRIP IN A CRAZY STARSHIP and BIG BUS was THE HAIR-RAISING TRIP IN A CRAZY BUS.

  37. CJ, that actually makes sense, if we’re talking about the video releases. THE BIG BUS has a great cast, and some jokes that are really zany. “You eat one lousy foot and they call you a cannibal. What a world!”
    My brother and I used to quote it all the time. “Look out! He’s got a broken milk carton!” and “Look out, he’s got a broken candle!” Or as Kitty says: “Dan’s a good man, and he’s never eaten a whole person in his entire life.” The dvd is perhaps the cheapest one I bought in my whole life, but…

  38. Of the sequels that members of the ZAZ team made, I always preferred Hot Shots!: Part Deux. It was better than the first by a long shot. However that was Abrahams and Pat Profft, no Zucker involvement. Of the ZAZ team films, like many others here, I prefer Top Secret!

  39. Since Double-Kay mentioned the BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN/UNTOUCHABLES thing. In Leslie Nielsen’s 2001 he quoted Josey Wales. I wonder how well that went down with “the kids”?

  40. I loved these movies as a kid and remember watching them a lot. Even saw this in the theater (I remember seeing this and THE ROCKETEER theatrically), but I prefer the first and third to it more. I do need to watch the TV series at some point again. I have vague memories of watching some episodes on VHS.

    I probably was just reacting more to the slapstick then anything else which is likely why I so loved them as a kid who got none of the more obvious references I would later on. It did feel odd to me when I started watching some of the movies it spoofed why I loved the spoof first.

    Speaking of which I have to kind of blame SPACEBALLS and it’s goof on the chestburster scene in ALIEN for not really scaring me the first time I actually saw ALIEN. I still love the movie for nearly everything else including some scenes which are far scarier to me but not as memorable overall.

  41. Pacman 33 1\3: The Final Chomp

    July 2nd, 2021 at 11:42 am

    OK, I gotta say this; is anyone else bothered by how that fake T2 TV spot botches the joke? It pans up Nielsen’s body and the narrator says “he said he’d be back”, but by the time the narration starts you can already see Nielsen’s face so it’s not fooling anybody. This shouldn’t have been that hard!

  42. Pacman 4: The Unmade Script by the Sledge Hammer Guy

    July 4th, 2021 at 9:03 am

    Guess not :(

  43. Ha, I was a big fan of the first two of these, and feel like original NAKED GUN is the pinnacle of the modern (post-Marx Brothers, post-Three Stooges) parody / slapstick / gag film. I remember part 2.5 being quite good, too. By 33.33, I felt like they were starting to jump the shark a bit (but bonus points for Fred Ward!). And, good grief, they milked this whole act of Leslie Neilsen’s career, from REPOSSESSED to SPY HARD to WRONGFULLY ACCUSED, to say nothing of your SCARY MOVIESes and HOT SHOTSes. So, then, this film deserves recognition as perhaps the last quite good Leslie Nielsen slapstick spoof comedy. That said, it’s been 25 years since I watched this bitch, and I only remember that the production values were high and I had a good time, and I thought Robert Goulet was an inspiredly bizarre choice of villain.

    I also will use this as an opportunity to remind the world that Leslie Nielsen is genuinely chilling in his CREEPSHOW 1 chapter, which is a good reminder that he just kind of fell into this late-career rebrand as a comedy star as kind of a lark and then one thing leads to another.

  44. I don’t know, I think he was always doing comedy and it’s just that nobody noticed before. You can’t tell me his performance in DAY OF THE ANIMALS wasn’t the work of a comedian desperately trying to escape a staid old character actor’s body. Based on all the stories about his love of his personal fart machine, I’d say his late-career hijinks weren’t a lark, but the case of a man assuming his final form.

  45. Ha! Fair enough. I have never heard of DAY OF THE ANIMALS. In the past I would have left that out based on fears of looking like a movie fan poser / tourist, but I don’t give a shit at this point.

    I have heard of the fart gag thing but always assumed that was something he adopted after NAKED GUN as a kind of cringey fan service. Maybe not. And, of course, I *did* know about AIRPLANE and POLICE SQUAD.

    I guess what I’m saying is that his career may only amount to a hill of beans, but this is his hill, and these are our beans.

  46. Pac Squad! Tonight's Episode: Ghost of a Chance

    July 4th, 2021 at 9:59 am

    He was still pretty good in a dramatic role in an episode from the first season of DUE SOUTH, but his character returned in subsequent episodes where he became increasingly sub-Drebinish and undignified, which I always found a bit sad.

  47. I…actually tracked all that. Good point.

    Oh dude, if you have any fondness for Neilsen, you GOTTA see DAY OF THE ANIMALS. He plays an alpha male ad exec asshole who gets infected by the ozone waves that are turning the local wildlife murderous, and he immediately takes his shirt off and starts stabbing dudes with sticks and claiming their women as his own and doing monologues directly to God and wrestling a bear in the rain. I don’t want to overhype it so I’ll just say it’s the greatest piece of footage ever captured by human technology and leave it at that.

  48. Too late for the overhype, but how is there not a Criterion version? Looks like beloved philanthropist, space adventurer, and totally self-made titan Jeff Bezos is giving free showings at his place, so, I’ll add this to the list. That and 2 FAST are in the near-term queue.

  49. There’s certainly no trace of Drebin in Nielsen’s dead serious and dead dignified Capt Harrison in THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE.

  50. I just watched that movie a few weeks ago, and I beg to differ. I think he’s giving the same blank, guile-less performance he would give in a comedy with the same premise. I believe it is this quality that attracted the Zuckers to him in the first place. How the audience feels about the performance is based almost entirely on context. POSEIDON ADVENTURE is a movie that has no idea how funny it is so having Frank Drebin be the captain and playing it straight is perfectly on-brand for the film.

  51. Further exposing my utter lack of bona fides, I have never seen any POSEIDON ADVENTURE film, though I did see SOYLENT GREEN, so, back off, you don’t me, etc. I would not qualify as a full-fledged Leslie Nielsen fan, unless owning the domain leslienielsen4prez2004.info and having a life-size tattoo of his face on my torso is the kind of thing that fans do. Having said that, with both the original NAKED GUN films and the aforementioned CREEPSHOW vignette, taken as a unified body of work (which is really the only way to view CREEPSHOW 1 and NAKED GUN 1 and 2), I see a canny talent who is very much invested in the reality of his character. For real though, that last part, those are great performances. Which also reminds me that I once worked at a place where the boss made / paid us to watch THE FORBIDDEN PLANET on a Friday, and that boss was not Michael Scott. I recall Nielsen being pretty good in that not so great movie, but it was hard not to see it through NAKED GUN lenses.

  52. Wasn’t he also the abusive asshole Barbra Streisand murders in NUTS? (Remember? She’s a call girl and Richard Dreyfuss is her lawyer? Now that’s a movie nobody talks about anymore.) I recall him being pretty terrifying in that but I was like 10 at the time so take that with a grain of salt.

  53. Damnit, man, are you trying to break me down? Do you wanna see me cry, is that it? You know, I’ve never seen NUTS either, you sadistic son of a bitch. You win, okay!

    No, seriously, I have seen WHAT ABOUT BOB? 15 or so times, JAWS a couple times, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS maybe once, and the trailer for that surely awful recent Netflix comedy with Dreyfuss and Chevy Chase (who maybe should’ve broke the opposite direction as Nielsen about the same time), but I have not seen NUTS. Oh, I also saw MEET THE FOKKERS, which I think is my only Barbra Streisand film.

  54. Then you got me beat. I once walked out of a screening of that Seth Rogen/Barbra Streisand movie the second she showed up onscreen because I thought they were showing a different movie and I did NOT sign up for this shit. That remains the most Barb I have ever seen in a movie or any other format since the first hour or so of NUTS, which I think was all I saw before I was sent to bed.

    I’m not a Nielsen superfan by any means. I think the last movie of his I saw was DRACULA: DEAD AND LOVING IT, which I fucking hated and made me boycott everything else he did for the rest of his life. (By that point, he was in on the joke, which ruined it.) But for some reason I can’t help but remember all the times I saw him in (allegedly) non-comedic roles.

  55. Too bad, as I was hoping to sell you the babsanddrebin2getheragain.net domain for a song, but I’ll have to hold out for the Leslie Nielsen centennial.

    Yeah, DEAD AND LOVING IT was one I don’t think I ever saw, because it really felt an uninspired cash grab for post-MEN IN TIGHTS Brooks and post-NAKED GUN Nielsen. “We should get those two together…” I did watch WRONGFULLY ACCUSED at the second-run theater back when I was late teens and would watch anything and everything at the discount theater. It was bad and kind of a sad affair for him and and Kelly Le Brock. Nobody’s finest hour, me incluided. Anyway, I was poor and didn’t have air conditioning (first world probz, y’all), and lived at that theatre. I must have watched 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU there five times the next summer. Oh, well. Life is better now that I can get my movie out of a vending machine like chips or watch it on a tiny phone. Sigh.

    Back to the matter at hand, my hats off to Mr. Nielsen for getting so so so very much mileage out of the last 20 years of his career. Dude had a monster run and seemed to really enjoy himself.

    And that’s why I’m opening the bidding at $75K on my one of a kind “Leslie Nielsen as Mr. Magoo” NFT.

  56. I have to defend DEAD AND LOVING IT. It’s not peak-Brooks, but it has a some damn funny jokes and most of all really nails the atmosphere of a classic Dracula movie. It’s a far cry from BLAZING SADDLES or YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, but feels more focused than SPACEBALLS or MEN IN TIGHTS.

  57. Pacman: Out of Lives & Loving It

    July 4th, 2021 at 12:53 pm

    “You’re being let out for good behaviour”
    “I’ve only been here 5 seconds”
    “Yes, but during that time your behaviour was very good”

    Only seen DEAD AND LOVING IT once, over 20 years ago but that bit has always stuck with me.

    Me being me I’d like to note NUTS was reportedly eleased in theatres with the first Warner Bros theatrical cartoon for 30 years, THE DUXORCIST.

  58. IIRC the first due South episode he was in it was played as a straight dramatic role (with appropriate lighting and whatnot) for the first 2/3 of the episode, but then he gets on a horse to chase after someone through the streets of Chicago and the horse rears up and then he picks himself off the pavement and hails a cab. So they didn’t even get through one whole episode of straight drama with him.

  59. Funny Girl is the shit, y’all. Barbra’s Star Is Born is great too.

  60. Peter Bogdanovich’ WHAT’S UP, DOC? with Barbra and Ryan O’Neal is one of the greatest comedies ever made. So the lady knew about being funny in the 70’s at least.

  61. Yeah, I’m sure she’s fine, but there are certain actors I am just not drawn or even have an instant aversion to. She is probably one of them, though I actually liked her just fine in that FOKKERs movie, because I like Dustin Hoffman and that whole setup, and they were broad charactes having a lot of fun with each other and the whole “Ben Stiller keeps getting into these awkward family situations, you guys, am I right?” energy. I liked the first two and did not see the third.

    I’ve felt similarly about the Rock and Vin Diesel, which is part of what makes the FF films so forbidding to me. Will Smith is another. Seth Rogen. I have enjoyed films with all of those guys, too, but they are a net turn-off at this point. Usually the guy just seems obnoxious or like he’s always playing a version of himself and it’s not a self that does much for me. I could talk myself into watching FUNNY GIRL (or NEIGHBORS 2, they’re on equal footing, right?), but there are a lot of other things I’d rather do, such as talk about not wanting to watch them right here, apparently.

  62. Barbra is a delight in HELLO DOLLY. Also Pegsman is correct about WHAT’S UP DOC.

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