The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear [retro review]

“I haven’t had this much sex since I was a Boy Scout leader!”

The Scoop: 1991 PG-13, directed by David Zucker and starring Leslie Nielsen, Priscilla Presley and Robert Goulet

Tagline: Frank Drebin is back. Just accept it.

Summary Capsule: Our favorite wacked-out police detective is back on the case, tracking down a wheelchair-bound imposter while trying to patch up his faulty love life. Ding-dong, the witch is dead.

Justin’s Rating: Two fresh, hot love muffins!

Justin’s Review: It’s very true that the first movie of a particular series that you watch tends to be your most memorable (and usually favorite). It has a lot to do with personal perspective and a virgin, white-washed mind, which is the only reason I think anyone could ever have for saying that Austin Powers in Goldmember is a great film. They didn’t know better. But they should’ve.

I jumped into the Naked Gun series with The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear when I was a teen, and in my mind’s eye, it’s just the absolute bestest of the series. Sure, I logically know that the first Naked Gun is a lot more solid and packs better jokes, but is where I was first exposed to Leslie Nielsen’s cop character, OJ Simpson’s innocent visage, and the numerous silly parodies of all cop shows and movies. Looking back now, it’s passable but probably won’t save any lives this year (the scenario I think of here is a guy ready to jump off the edge of a building, and a nearby movie watcher says, “Hey, come in and watch Naked Gun 2½ with me instead!” and the guy gets all weepy and suddenly has something to live for, and then there’s an after-school special on ABC).

Based off of an extremely short-lived TV show, the Naked Gun trilogy pokes fun not only at the police genre, but also pretty much any cheap parody they can get a laugh out of. Remember Ghost? The movie that made us believe again in sex with the recently deceased? Well, it gets a very odd yet creative send-up in this sequel.

Lt. Drebin (Nielsen) is on the case again, as a fat guy in a wheelchair gets kidnapped and another schmaltzy guy (Robert Goulet) is somehow involved. The Naked Gun movies have always relied heavily on slapstick humor — prepare to see Barbara Bush get smacked down, hard and often — and visual gags (one of my favorite scenes is after an explosion where the filmmakers had a blast — hah — planting funny chalk outlines all over the place). But more than just throwaway jokes, I love the more subtle touches of humor. Drebin gets a great running narration with absolutely horrible analogies (“She had a body that could melt a cheese sandwich from across the room”) and double entendres are the name of the game. The Double Entendre Game! Our first contestant is James Bond, fresh from his latest stay at an STD clinic.

While many comedy actors can do a pratfall or smear bodily fluids on their face for a laugh, Leslie Nielsen possesses an enriched talent that’s really too good for many of the cheaper parodies he’s been a part of. Happily, the material meets the man in the Naked Guns, and as Drebin, Nielsen gets to show off his ability to make goofy faces, look around vapidly, prattle on like a jealous schoolboy, and act like a total girl. Which, coming from an older, almost-ready-for-the-senior-citizen’s-menu-options person, is much funnier than it has any right to be.

I’ve come to grudgingly accept the fact that some people — soulless, evil, puppy-eating folk — don’t find this genre of film funny at all, and I can let that lie. But if nothing else, these types of movies that bombard you with an unrelenting stream of jokes are desperately needed in an era of human history where 98% of the so-called “comedy” flicks are hardly laughable at all. I admire a movie that sets out to do one thing — make me laugh — and do it well, and Naked Gun 2½ still steals my chuckles until my diaphragm is aching and I’m trying really hard not to arrive at that milestone in my life where I’ve first puked from laughter.

Imminently quotable, the team of Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker give us so much to chew on. If you’ve lived your life without having slipped a line from one of these films into your conversation, then… seriously, what do you do with your time? Cross-checking your income tax statements? “I haven’t had this much sex since I was a Boy Scout leader!”

Personally, I spent at least twenty minutes of time in my youth memorizing the “dirty book” lines that the chubby wheelchair guy reads to wake up dozing delegates, and that was time well spent. Don’t you dare tell me otherwise.

Kyle's autobiography

Intermission!

  • Canadian actor Lloyd Bochner spoofs his own performance in the famous Twilight Zone episode “To Serve Man.” In a panicked crowd scene, Bochner can be seen carrying a large book with “To Serve Man” on the cover and shouting “It’s a cookbook! It’s a cookbook!”, which was the shocking reveal in the TZ episode.
  • Pictures displayed at the Loser’s Bar include the Titanic, the Hindenburg, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the Ford Edsel, the DeLorean DMC-12, the Hubble Space Telescope (considered a failure at the time), Neville Chamberlain, and Michael Dukakis.
  • The atomic device Frank trips over near the end of the film is the same one originally used in Goldfinger.
  • The end credits include many additional gags (including “People who didn’t have lines, but we like ’em!”) and a couple final lines of dialogue.

Groovy Quotes

    Drebin: I’m sorry I can’t be more optimistic, Doctor, but we’ve got a long road ahead of us. It’s like having sex. It’s a painstaking and arduous task that seems to go on and on forever, and just when you think things are going your way, nothing happens. 

    Drebin: I’ve been swimming in raw sewage. I love it!

    Hapsburg: You do speak French don’t you?
    Drebin: Unfortunately no, but I do kiss that way.

    Drebin: Have you noticed anything different about him?
    Jane: Well, only that he’s a foot taller, and he seems to be left handed now… Frank, what are you trying to tell me? That Quentin has somehow found an exact double for Dr. Mainheimer and that tomorrow that double will give a fraudulent report to the president?
    Drebin: Why, that’s brilliant, that’s a lot better than what I came up with!

    Drebin: I want a world where Frank junior and all the Frank juniors can sit under a shady tree, breathe the air, swim in the ocean, and go into a 7-11 without an interpreter.

    Drebin: The truth hurts doesn’t it, Hapsburg? Oh, sure maybe not as much as jumping on a bike with the seat missing…

    Sex Shop Assistant: Is this some kind of bust?
    Drebin: It’s very impressive, yes.

    Sex Shop Assistant: Why should I tell you, copper?
    Drebin: Because I’m the last line of defense between sleaze like this and the decent people of this town.
    Male Shop Assistant: Oh, hi Frank. Say, we got that model D83 Swedish sure-grip suck machine that you ordered.

    Drebin: Oh, it’s alright. I’m sure that we can handle this situation maturely, just like the responsible adults that we are. Isn’t that right, Mr… Poopy Pants?

    Drebin: That’s the red-light district. I wonder why Savage is hanging around down there.
    Hocken: Sex, Frank?
    Drebin: Uh, no, not right now, Ed.

    Jane: Play our song, Sam.
    Sam: Alright… DING DONG! The witch is dead! Which old witch! The wicked witch!

    Drebin: I love being single! I haven’t had this much sex since I was a Boy Scout leader!

    Drebin: I couldn’t believe it was her. It was like a dream. But there she was, just as I remembered her. That delicately beautiful face. A body that could melt a cheese sandwich from across the room. And breasts that seemed to say… “Hey! Look at these!” She made you want to drop to your knees and thank God you were a man! She reminded me of my mother, all right. No doubt about it.

    Drebin: You know, sometimes I envy you and Edna. You have the same person every day for over 30 years. You wake up, eat with her, sleep with her. Make love to the same woman. You spend every possible waking moment together, while I’m out running around with 20-year-olds who want cheap sex. Girls who can’t say no. Girls who can’t get enough. “More, more, more. Your turn to wear the handcuffs… ”

    Drebin: Looks like the cows have come home to roost.

    Drebin: This is Frank Drebin, Police Squad. Throw down your guns, and come on out with your hands up. Or come on out, then throw down your guns, whichever way you wanna do it. Just remember the two key elements. One – guns down. Two – come on out.

    Hapsburg: I don’t recall your name on the guest list.
    Drebin: That’s OK. I sometimes go by my maiden name.

    Hapsburg: Any final requests, Lieutenant?
    Drebin: Can I have the gun?

    Drebin: Good evening commissioner. You look lovely tonight.
    Commissioner: Shut up! Do you realize that because of you, this city is being overrun by baboons?
    Drebin: Well, isn’t that the fault of the voters?

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4 Comments

  1. Pingback: The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult [retro review] « Mutant Reviewers From Hell

  2. Pingback: The Naked Gun [Retro Review] « Mutant Reviewers From Hell

  3. Pingback: Kyle does Airplane II: The Sequel [plus retro review] « Mutant Reviewers From Hell

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