Police officer Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) tries to find the culprit who shot his fellow police officer Nordberg (O.J. Simpson). Clumsy and confident, Drebin eventually comes to wealthy business magnate Vincent Ludwig (Ricardo Montalban), who has a secret plan to murder Queen Elizabeth II by hypnotizing an innocent man. As Drebin investigates, he falls in love with Ludwig’s assistant Jane Spencer (Priscilla Presley) who knows nothing of Ludwig’s evil plots but agrees to help Drebin in his detective work. In an attempt to get evidence against Ludwig, Drebin accidentally burns Ludwig’s entire mansion, including the countless number of priceless items that decorated it. He’s fired from the police force and must continue the investigation rogue. Suspecting that Ludwig will attempt to kill the queen at a baseball game, Drebin disguises as an umpire in order to search the players for assassination weapons. After inciting a brawl due to his execrable umpiring skills, Drebin saves the queen from a player hypnotized to be her assassin. He then accidentally kills Ludwig by shooting him with a tranquilizer dart that causes him to stumble off the stadium roof. But the commotion isn’t over, as Spencer becomes hypnotized as well and attempts to kill Drebin. Drebin de-hypnotizes Spencer through a heartfelt speech and is reinstated into the police force.
With witty one liners, laughable character personalities, and the perfect combination of toilet humor and OJ Simpson cameos, The Naked Gun: from the Files of Police Squad! has all the elements of a great satire. Don’t take the storyline too seriously; the purpose of Naked Gun is to be funny. Just as he did in Airplane!, Nielsen delivered wonderfully to the film’s fast-paced humor and his clueless character. The accelerated wordplay is ironic and hilariously clever. Nielsen’s character is a poor man’s James Bond. Entirely unaware of social norms, Drebin is often brutally blunt or subtly off-putting, e.g. responding to the offer “Cuban?” with “No, Dutch-Irish. My father was from Wales.” The film doesn’t take the love story of Drebin and Spencer seriously, but actually parodies it with a long montage of them butchering a variety stereotypically romantic activities. A legitimate love story would be out of place. If you’re watching a satire for passionate romance, you’ve probably clicked on the wrong Naked Gun.
In addition to the clever social irony that comes from Nielsen’s character, the film has clear cut physical humor. It doesn’t rely entirely on subtle wordplay. In one particular scene, Ludwig practically spells out the foreshadowing of a joke when he boasts about his $20,000 fish and his pen that’s impervious to everything besides water. We know Drebin’s going to kill the fish and drop the pen in the fish tank, but we laugh nonetheless. More than any other part of the film, however, Naked Gun’s physical humor dates somewhat awkwardly. The overexaggerated cross-eye expressions and hysterically screaming women now seem over-the-top and rarely find their place in modern TV or film. Even so, older and new audiences alike will enjoy the film’s clueless characters, sexual entendres, and hilariously clever irony. The Naked Gun will make you laugh, which is the most important and only goal it’s meant to accomplish.
Release Date: December 1, 1988
Starring: Leslie Nielsen
Director: David Zucker
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Audience: Mild sexuality and violence
Runtime: 85 minutes
Official Social Media Pages:
- Facebook: @NakedGunMovies
IMDB Page: @TheNakedGun
Eoin Goyette | Writing Contributor
B.A | Film & New Media Studies | UC Santa Barbara
Eoin has loved telling stories for his entire life, with his interests ranging from Swedish films to fantasy football reports. He is in his 2nd year studying Film & Media at UC Santa Barbara, where he’s a part of the honors program, Zeta Beta Tau fraternity, and many student film productions, including ones which he writes and directs himself. When he isn’t writing or watching movies, you can often catch him lost in train of thought, berating the TV during 49ers games, or shamelessly laughing at his own sarcasm. | Instagram @eoin_goyette| View My Articles
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