May 14, 2010

24 FPS Top 100

DIR: David Zucker
Why is it on the list?
It’s FUNNY. Plain and simple, The Naked Gun is just one of the wall to wall funniest films ever made. Made long before David Zucker begun wasting his undoubted comic talents on the excremental Scary Movie fanchise and even longer before his right wing agitprop ‘comedy’ An American Carol, this movie, like Airplane and the Police Squad! TV series that predated it just concentrated on bringing the funny in the most consistent and concentrated manner possible.

Leslie Nielsen, until Airplane best known as the mission commander in classic sci-fi movie Forbidden Planet, became the go to guy for spoof movies after his performance as Frank Drebin, and it’s not hard to see why. Neilsen is a masterful player of deadpan comedy. Too many of today’s comedies see the actors almost begging you to laugh, as if they’re screaming “look what I’m doing, isn’t it outrageous and funny?” (to which, by the way, the answer is almost always a resounding no). Neilsen’s Frank Drebin doesn’t expect you to laugh at him, he’s just doing his job, and that’s WHY it’s funny.

Take the brilliant scene when he first meets love interest Priscilla Presley, she’s up a ladder fetching something, he’s standing underneath her with, potentially, a nice view up her dress. “Nice beaver” he says, “Thanks”, she replies, “I just had it stuffed” then, with perfect timing, she hands him a stuffed beaver. In Disaster Movie the characters would then spend a long time telling you why that joke is funny, explaining the double meaning of beaver, for example. The Naked Gun just tells jokes, it’s up to you whether you get them or not.

The humour comes thick and fast, the film is barely 80 minutes long, but manages to pack in literally hundreds of laugh out loud moments. There are verbal jokes, physical jokes, visual jokes, lots of slapstick and a couple of gross out gags (though they are generally more subtly deployed than they might be these days). Barely a second of screentime goes by without a gag of some sort, even if it’s in the background. The film never lets up, and almost every gag is a direct hit to the funny bone.

The cast all get the tone absolutely right, with an impressively game Priscilla Presley as love interest Jane and George Kennedy as Drebin’s boss being particular standouts and Ricardo Montalban making for a suitably hammy and amusing villain.

Now 22 years old The Naked Gun is, with the exception of its opening teaser scene, as fresh as a daisy, this kind of comedy doesn’t date at all because it’s mocking not the pop culture references of the moment but long established genre traits and, lets face it, because the visual of a chalk outline showing where someone has fallen into the water is just one of those gags that will be as funny in 100 years as it was then and is now. Ther are moments, watching this film, that I’ve laughed so hard and long I’ve become worried about the loss of oxygen. THAT is what funny is.

Standout Scenes
The opening credits
An iconic moment, repeated in each of the films; brilliantly simple, hilariously funny.

Meeting Vincent Ludwig
The extended set piece in which Drebin breaks Ricardo Montalban’s unbreakable pen and kills his extremely valuable fish is just a masterpiece of comic timing.

First date montage
Every romantic movie cliché, skewered in two minutes, to the sound of Herman's Hermits.

Favourite Lines
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.
Jane: Goodyear?
Frank: No, the worst.

Jane: How could you do something so vicious?
Vincent Ludwig: It was easy my dear. You forget, I spent two years as a building contractor.

Ed: Don't you worry, Wilma. Your husband is going to be alright. Don't you worry about anything. Just think positive. Never let a doubt enter your mind.
Frank: He's right, Wilma. But I wouldn't wait until the last minute to fill out those organ donor cards.
[Wilma cries again]
Ed: What I'm trying to say is that, Wilma, as soon as Nordberg is better, he's welcome back at Police Squad.
Frank: ...Unless he's a drooling vegetable. But I think that's only common sense.

Thug: Drebin?
Frank: Yeah!
Thug: I got a message for you from Vincent Ludwig!
[Shoots gun at Drebin]
Thug: Take this, you son of a bitch!
Frank: I can't hear you! Don't fire the gun while you're talking!

To buy the whole Naked Gun Trilogy, and help 24FPS out at the same time, please use these links. Thanks!
UK: The Naked Gun Trilogy
USA: The Naked Gun DVD Gift Set

1 comment:

  1. Hahaha great quotes!

    Yeah, I still haven't seen this movie in its entirety, this must change.