While I am in the midst of trying to cheer myself up from this absolute debacle of a year, I would be more than remiss, and downright derelict if I did not include another comedy film, The Naked Gun. While Leslie Neilson was a hilarious supporting actor in the great comedy Airplane, he is the front and center star of the even more outrageously silly gut-buster, The Naked Gun.
While re-visiting this movie, I am starkly reminded of the march of time. The Naked Gun was made a full 6 years before O.J. Simpson brutally murdered his wife and a friend, a horrific event that occurred 26 years ago. One of America’s most admired athletes eventually became America’s most tragic and embarrassing acquittal, but that is not important now. What is important is that O.J. as Nordberg was a continuous punching bag in this movie, so weirdly satisfying when viewed with hindsight.
The Naked Gun is not unlike Airplane in that it is just pure absurdity. It is an outrageous farce that spoofs other films with relentless silliness. Even following the great Airplane, The Naked Gun is unique with its inane slapstick. Yes, other movies have car chase scenes, but with a Student Driver accompanied by the great and totally unflappable John Houseman?
The cast of characters and cameos are stunning, and nowhere is this more evident and enjoyable than in one of the greatest movie sports scenes, the baseball game between the Angels and the Seattle Mariners. In the broadcast booth alone, we have no less than Curt Goudey, Tim McCarver, Dick Vitale, Jesse Ventura, Dr. Brothers, Mel Allen, Jim Palmer and Dick Engberg. Their deadpan was exquisite. We also had real life baseball players and real umpires, all contributing to some of the greatest baseball slapstick since Abbot & Costello’s “Who’s On First”.
I won’t dwell much on the rest of the plot, as the baseball act was so deliciously over-the-top hilarious. Of course, none of this would mean a thing without mentioning the superstar of this unique comedy, Leslie Neilson. His performance, especially the final act at the baseball park was a comedic tour-de-force. Never since Inspector Clouseau has there ever been a more incompetent law enforcement officer. Every line was as side-splitting as they were hopelessly silly.
O.K., you keeping asking about the plot. Does it really matter? Anyway, Nordberg (OJ) was severely injured while undercover and scoping out a big drug operation orchestrated by Vincent Ludwig (Ricardo Montalban). The Queen of England was also in town and The Police Squad was in charge of security during her visit. I know that none of this makes sense, but Ludwig had a bizarre plot to assassinate The Queen while she attended a baseball game in Los Angeles. Again, this scene at the baseball park just has to be seen to be believed.
Again, the supporting cast was wonderful, but I must put in a special plug for Priscilla Presley, who was Ludwig’s personal assistant. She was supposed to ghost the hapless Detective for Ludwig, but ended up falling in love with the bumbling officer. Their goofy hi-jinks of a love affair, highlighted by “safe sex” and the montage of their one-day together was as silly as it was outrageously funny. Every second of this great movie was a groaning but much appreciated gag.
There was not a minute that the audience expected any accidental seriousness in this movie. The gags and one-liners were predictable, never-ending, but so greatly appreciated. From the terrorist meeting at the opening to the baseball imbroglio at the end, The Naked Gun did not fail to make my face hurt from grinning.
10.0/10.0 With The Goatesians Rating of Leslie Neilsen’s Best Comedy
Quotes and One-Liners, Too Many To Possibly Mention
- “Nice Beaver!” -Frank
- “It’s the same old story. Boy finds girl, boy loses girl, girl finds boy, boy forgets girl, boy remembers girl, girls dies in a tragic blimp accident over the Orange Bowl on New Year’s Day. –Frank
- “Goodyear?” -Jane “No, the worst” -Frank
- “Doctors say that Nordberg has a 50/50 chance of living, though there’s only a 10 percent chance of that. -Ed
- “Mrs. Nordberg, I think we can save your husband’s arm. Where would you like it sent? -Nurse
- “What about the new guy? Do you know anything about him? -Frank
- “Not much. Just that he’s an Olympic gymnast, and it’s the best sex she’s ever had.” -Ed