The Naked Gun (1988)
What can you say? Not only is The Naked Gun one of the best genre spoofs ever
created, but it is the second best performance O.J. Simpson ever gave.
And then there's Leslie Nielsen! A grade-B dramatic actor most memorable
either as Disney's heroic "Swamp Fox", or as the earnest astronaut
in Forbidden Planet, Leslie Nielsen made the move to comedy and
ascended to a height beyond anything even he might have imagined.
Using the same flat, deadpan style that doomed his serious acting, he emerged as arguably the greatest comic actor since Chaplin.
Whoda thunk it? In fact, I don't think I could ever watch him in a
serious show again, because I now crack up the minute he appears on
screen. Of course he may not affect everyone the way he affects me,
but he certainly should be assigned one inarguable title: he's the
heavyweight champion of genre parodies. He has sent up disaster
movies, spy films, horror movies, cop movies, cop shows, sci-fi, and
Men with Brooms
and Loving It (1995)
Naked Gun 33
1/3: The Final Insult (1994)
The Naked Gun
2½: The Smell of Fear (1991)
Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988)
(1982 -TV series)
There are some bad movies in that group, and there
are some even worse ones I left off the list, but there are also
some very good ones, including The Naked Gun. Airplane! is generally
considered the best film in Nielsen's filmography, but that was an
ensemble comedy in which Nielsen had a fairly small part, while The
Naked Gun was Nielsen's star turn, and he made the best of it. Since
this role is probably the best starring performance by a man who is
a valid contender for the title of "best comic actor ever," I guess
you have to conclude it is one of the greatest comic performances in
history, and therefore a "must watch" for any comedy fans who have
not already seen it. Nielsen
plays the part of Lt. Frank Drebin, who seems to be the world's
clumsiest and most inept policeman, but who nonetheless always
manages to come out on top, not only by defeating L.A.'s most
brilliant criminals, but by overcoming virtually all evil in the
world in his spare time. In this film he manages to defeat Khaddafy,
Arafat, Idi Amin, and Ayatollah Khomeini, and even to remove
The primary storyline of the film involves a plot
to assassinate Queen Elizabeth during her visit to a Los Angeles
Angels baseball game. Drebin must thwart the murderer, who turns out
to be the Angel's slugging right fielder Reggie Jackson. The baseball game is especially funny, with
impersonating, in turn, the National Anthem singer and the home
plate umpire. Queen Elizabeth, for her part, cheerfully participates
in a "wave" and obligingly passes a beer down to the end of her row.
There are too many great jokes to list, but my favorite schtick involved Mel Allen's unusual plays of the week,
in which a sliding runner is mauled by a 600 pound tiger, and an
infielder misses a pop fly because he is run over by a car.
As Mr Allen would say, "How about that?"
Funny movie, and the jokes still work after 15 years.
The only nudity comes from unknowns in the opening title sequence. Amazingly
enough, there is even a brief flash of pubic hair, although the film is rated
PG-13. (Hey, those were the 80s. It would probably be rated R today.)
L4YER CAKE (2005)
If you really miss the cool and funny gangster films
that Guy Ritchie used to make, and wish that Ritchie had kept making
them, well, this is the film for you. The Ritchie baton has been
passed effortlessly to director Matthew Vaughn, who is one of
Ritchie's best friends, was the best friend at Ritchie's wedding to
Madonna, and worked as a producer on Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two
Smoking Barrels. L4YER CAKE has all the strengths of those two
earlier films, and also has some of the same problems (too many characters, too
many storylines to follow). It also has a very cool star, Daniel Craig, who can
best be described as Steve McQueen with a different accent. It also has a wild
and unexpected (although appropriate) ending.
All in all, it is a nifty and entertaining hipper-than-thou film, although I
just can't, for the life of me, see why some critics went ga-ga over it. If this
had come before Ritchie's movies, I might have been more impressed, but L4YER
CAKE now seems to be a little stale. This time the item in dispute is a
collection of a million Ecstasy pills, as opposed to some rare guns or some
diamonds, but the general idea is about the same as in the Ritchie films.
Everyone wants the prize, and our hero is caught in a situation where giving it
or even selling to one group of gangsters will make him an assassination target
for two or three other groups, so he has to pull off a spectacular flim-flam to
satisfy all interested parties.
American audiences avoided this in its brief
theatrical run in the States, and I would certainly not recommend that average
Americans try to watch this in a movie theater, because it's virtually a foreign
language film, and that makes the convoluted plot just about impossible to
follow. There are just too many characters, too much going on, and too much
jumping back and forth in time and place. On the other hand, DVD is an excellent
medium to add some user-friendliness. I found two DVD features very helpful.
First of all, I watched it in English with English subtitles, thus allowing me
to understand all the heavy accents. Then I pulled one more ace from the DVD
sleeve. After I watched the film, I went back and listened to the commentary,
and that helped me understand some particularly confusing scenes. Even
after doing this, I was still confused on some details! For example, near the
end of the film, one character apologizes to another, "sorry about Lucky." That
was obviously supposed to be an emotional moment, but I was racking my brain
trying to remember just who the hell Lucky was. Of course, I could have gone
back and figured it out, but it just wasn't worth it.
I don't mean to imply that this is a poor film. In fact, it is
quite a good one in many ways, and I enjoyed it, but I would have
enjoyed it far more if it had departed from the Richie formula and
had featured a tighter plot, involving fewer characters and fewer
Steven Spielberg will take over the producer role from Stephen
Sommers for Paramount sci-fi remake When Worlds Collide. He
may or may not direct.
Invisible Donkey Removal
Swazi princess whipped for refusing to turn down the music.
Who could blame the people of Swaziland for getting their
lederhosen in a bunch over this matter? How much of that fucking
yodeling and pan flute music could anyone endure?
A certified major hit!
Wedding Crashers has now achieved the second highest gross of
any R-rated comedy in history.
- Beverly Hills Cop is #1. Wedding Crashers passed Pretty
Woman and There's Something About Mary in the past week or so.
Scary Movie is #5.
- If the films are ranked by the number of tickets sold,
Beverly Hills Cop is still #1, but Blazing Saddles becomes #2.
Both of those films would have grosses in the astronomical
$500m range if one assumes $8 ticket prices!
Modernity and the Maniac: The Fall of Janet Leigh
Sam, the World's Ugliest Dog
The official site for Cry Wolf is now live
thriller featuring eight high school seniors trapped by their
own internet lie game.)
This week's movies:
Undiscovered - 2.5% positive reviews. With one positive
review and 39 negatives, it offers some strong competition for
Supercross among the early Razzie contenders. (Supercross is
hanging in there at 1.9%, one positive and fifty negatives, with
Movie Mom offering the only positive.)
The Virgin holds off the new releases to top the weekend box
- I don't see any major surprises in the chart below. The
Penguin results are not as bad as they appear. The large
negative number results from an aggressive prediction. The
Warrior predicted only a 5% week-to-week decline for that
film, and it dropped 30%. A thirty percent decline is still
not so bad at all. It was the third best retention rate of the
week, trailing only the two popular comedies (Virgin and
- There was a third wide release this week, a gal-pal movie
called Undiscovered, starring Ashlee Simpson. It bombed
completely and apparently will remain permanently
undiscovered. It grossed less than $700,000, despite being on
1300 screens. The $529 per screen average, assuming three
showings per screen per day, works out to a per-screening
average of $59. That represents about six or seven people.
- On the other hand, Undiscovered seemed like the next
Titanic compared to Supercross, which dropped 72% and averaged
$231 per screen (about three people per screening), while
tying up 1600 screens which could have been used for good
instead of evil.
- The Top 12 declined 2.5% from last year.
IRAQIS REJECT DEMOCRACY, FEARING OBESITY MAY BE NEXT ...
Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds Report Worrisome Weight Gains Since
Trailers for The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005), a Disney
golf drama about one of the greatest real-life underdog stories
of all time, Francis Ouimet's famous triumph over the great
Harry Vardon in the 1913 U.S. Open at Brookline.
- Every dedicated sports fan knows the story. Ouimet, a
20-year-old amateur, came from a working class family which
lived near the club, and was a caddy there. At the time,
Vardon was a five-time British Open champion and a former U.S.
Open champion. He was golf's senior ambassador and its most
recognizable name. Imagine Jack Nicklaus at age 43, and you'll
get the picture. Vardon even had a grip named after him, and
that name is still used today. He was also Ouimet's idol.
- Ouimet, Vardon and another English pro named Ted Ray went
into the final round tied, and they all shot the same score,
so the tournament ended in a three-way tie which was settled
by a Monday playoff. Talk about a sympathetic home-town crowd!
Playing against two established foreign champions, both
professionals, Ouimet was not only the only American in the
playoff, and the only amateur, but was basically just a
hopeful kid teeing off within sight of his own house, using a
local 10-year-old as his caddy! If his story were fictional,
nobody would believe it. It's surprising that it has taken so
long to become a movie.
Here's the scoring recap.
- The film's script is based on the book linked below, which
is a rhapsodic celebration of golf, an incredibly detailed
account of the tournament, and a must read if you are
interested in golf lore and the way it intertwines with
American history and sociology. (The author of the book also
wrote the screenplay.)
Missouri passes law restricting strip clubs, Judge declares it
Newsweek Q&A with a prickly Jerry Lewis
The US Mint has seized 10 Double Eagle gold coins - some of the
rarest and most valuable in the world - from a woman checking
their authenticity. (The coins are worth more than $50
million to collectors, based on the price of the last one to be
Macgyver for President - 2008
'Suge' Knight shot at Miami Beach party
In the booming world of online poker, anyone can win. Especially
with an autoplaying robot ace in the hole. Are you in, human?
Has Google Peaked?