Sunday, March 13, 2011

Naked Gun: From The Files Of Police Squad!, The - 4.5/5

Firstly, it has to be said that Leslie Nielsen will sorely be missed. His contributions to the comedic value of film in the latter part of his career will never cease to be inspiring. With his death still heavy in our hearts, let us go back and view one of his greatest acting accomplishments. That of Lt. Frank Drebin in "Police Squad!"'s first feature film, "The Naked Gun".

After a stint to thwart terrorist activity in Beirut, Lt. Frank Drebin (Nielsen) comes back to America only to find his partner Nordberg (Simpson) shot up and in a coma. With only days to apprehend the man who framed him, Drebin steps up his ridiculousness to solve the case. Upon investigating the circumstances of Nordberg's attack, he finds himself in a larger conspiracy with a wealthy businessman (Montalban) and an assassination scheme for the Queen of England.

Spoofs are a hard aspect of comedy to get right. When looking at spoofs, "The Naked Gun" series does it at its best, combining a great comedic character with a film that not only spoofs police shows, but creates its own niche as well. The jokes are lightning fast both visually and verbally and the film never hesitates if you miss it. Sorry. Not fast enough? Then rewind the damn thing cause this film gives you no time to let it all sink in.
In fact, the film does all kinds of weird comedic things. Background scenes, details within the sets, and odd uses of puns and wording all pile on to make a comedy that works even better on its fourth spin than its first. These repeat viewing discoveries of hidden jokes/gags is one of the reasons this film has stood the test of time. It’s like you find something new with every viewing.

This film also benefits from its odd placement of absurdity to its seriousness. Nielsen is superb at playing the most ridiculous lines and faces as completely natural and relevant for the situation. Partner this with the lightning fast writing and direction of site gags and it’s a combination for pure comedic genius. Drebin’s out of line character is played so straight forward that even the side characters (who are played seriously) go with it as if it’s nothing. This weird ability to blend the two worlds (as is seen with other Zucker films like “Airplane!”) works in stunningly efficient ways and this film is one of the best.

As a person that is very picky with their comedies, a film like “The Naked Gun” is almost flawed to perfection in how it balances all of its odd details and jokes. With a well casted group of actors, a director who knows how its supposed to work, and a ballsy script that loves to say all the wrong things, “The Naked Gun” is one of the must see comedies ever made.

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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