Anthony's Film Review
The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988)
The laughs are silly, over the top, and nonstop in this clever slapstick comedy...
There are many ways to make someone laugh: intelligent humor, low-brow humor, physical humor, stupid humor, etc. So why do some comedies fall flat? Maybe it's not the type of humor, but the timing and delivery. Things are funny when they arrive unexpectedly and out of nowhere. Also, the jokes should make the audience laugh, not the actors. A person who does something that only he or she finds amusing at a predictable moment is not funny.
The Naked Gun, a spoof of cop movies and based on a short-lived TV series in 1982 called Police Squad!, is very successful because it doesn't make this mistake. Every joke is a surprise when you don't expect to laugh. All of the actors involved in the jokes don't giggle or lose it during delivery. They play it seriously without questioning the absurdity of the script.
Take, for example, an early scene with O.J. Simpson as a cop named Nordberg. He breaks into a criminal hideout by kicking the door. Unfortunately, it doesn't open because his leg goes right through it. Then he is shot many times. At first, he seems OK. Then he hits his head, touches wet paint, gets his hand smashed by a closing window, falls into a cake, and gets his leg in a bear trap, all of which seem more painful than the bullets themselves.
If you think that's silly, wait until you watch the opening credits. We see the city streets at night from the perspective of a police car, whose red siren occupies the bottom half of the screen. The car soon goes into some unlikely places: on a sidewalk, through a car wash, into someone's house, through a women's locker room, and along a roller coaster track. It does, however, make its final stop at a gas station.
Up until now, I didn't talk about the plot and characters because I forgot to. All you have is Leslie Nielsen as the bumbling and idiotic Lieutenant Frank Drebin and Priscilla Presley as Jane Spencer, Frank's love interest. The plot is very much like the kind you expect in a cop movie. Otherwise, everything else is totally irrelevant and need no mention.
The whole point of the movie is to make you laugh and laugh and laugh. What's even better is the value of subsequent viewings. The movie is hilarious even after the fifth time you see it. The Naked Gun is one of the best slapstick comedy films of all time and, for that matter, one of the greatest comedies ever made. So with that, I shall mention one more scene from this movie: the final shot in which something really funny happens to O.J. Simpson before the screen instantly goes black. It ends the movie perfectly.
For more information about The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my reviews of The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear and The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult and the original TV series Police Squad!.