Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen, Airplane!) is quite possibly the greatest cop the elite LA Police Squad has aboard and his crime-fighting prowess is eclipsed only by his tendency to cause millions of dollars in property damage.
When a megalomaniacal industrialist (Ricardo Montalban, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan) hatches a scheme to assassinate the Queen of England, Frank faces his greatest challenge ever.
I don’t really have to dwell on this, right? It’s The Naked Gun, one of the five funniest films ever made. I have distinct memories of first watching this on VHS at my neighbor’s house: me, my brother, and a kid named Pat laughed so hard whatever beverages we had been drinking (possibly Tab) was blasting out of our nasal cavities. Even now, more than twenty years later, The Naked Gun still delivers the belly laughs. We’re talking genuine legitimate laughter, nothing tinted by nostalgia or childhood memories.
O.J. Simpson getting catapulted out of a wheelchair onto Angels field? Frank Drebin battling a lethal hospital pillow? The floating chalk outline? The “sexual assault with a concrete dildo”? The baseball outtakes? The name-dropping of one “Weird” Al Yankovic?
All of these gags stand tall on their own merit, of course, but their excellence is augmented by the unavoidable fact that somewhere along the way people forgot how to make these kinds of movies. The two Naked Gun sequels are worthy and I have a soft spot for the Hot Shots movies, but once you get past those you’re looking at a post-apocalyptic landscape of spoof films populated by abhorrent mutants like Scary Movie and Meet the Spartans. Compared to that garbage, The Naked Gun makes Citizen Kane look like Troll 2.
I butchered that metaphor in a big way. Obviously these kinds of movies can be tricky to make, noted by the list of recent abject failures, and only next to Airplane! (and maybe Top Secret), the The Naked Gun is the gold standard.
Then again, you already knew that.
Another thing you should know: This Blu-ray release is worth the upgrade, if you don’t already own the film (it’s worth serious consideration of a space in your library regardless). The technical treatment is solid, starting with a pleasantly surprising 1.78:1/1080p high-def transfer that represents a noticeable uptick in visual fidelity as compared to DVD. The clarity is there throughout, impressive for a two-decade old release. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is effective, but The Naked Gun isn’t known for its bombast. Only one extra, a recycled group commentary with David Zucker, Robert Weiss, and Peter Tilden.
Not Guilty. Enrico Pallazzo approves.