11 July 2004 | bob the moo
Even when you're not laughing you'll still be chuckling (as long as you're in the mood)
Fresh from tackling terrorism in Beruit, with his own unique hands on style, Lt Frank Drebin is immediately called onto the job to investigate the near fatal shooting of a fellow officer. Det Nordberg was gunned down investigating a case in the docks and Drebin's investigation begins with the company that Nordberg was undercover with that of pillar of the community Vincent Ludwig. As Frank falls for Ludwig's PA, the beautiful Jane Spencer, he uncovers proof of a dastardly plot by Ludwig but who will believe him?
If there is a man, woman or child on this earth who can say, hand on heart, that they just don't find Airplane, Naked Gun, Police Squad and the like funny then I would very much like to meet the sad sack just to discover what it takes to elicit a smile from them. Needless to say, this sort of film is very much my type of thing but not to the point where I cannot spot a good one from a bad one. In fact one of the big downsides of this film is that it did create many copies that just couldn't do it as well so we have had spoofs of all sorts of genres recently, but too many have more hits than misses.
It is to this films credit that it has a very high hit/miss ratio and I enjoy it so much because the laughs keep coming. The material is very silly but it is the constant straight face that it delivers it with that is perfect and makes it work. Other films of the ilk have been overly silly without keeping this straight face. However, our characters here seem oblivious apart from the odd one who gives the other a funny look etc, and this makes the goings on even funnier. The plot is silly but that doesn't matter as you will be laughing too much to really care. Having seen it so often I have stopped roaring the way I did the first time but I still chuckled all the way.
The writing and direction is spot on delivering sharp lines that make me laugh due to their sheer unexpectedness or the way they are so very out of place as well as sight gags that are imaginative and clever. However lets not forget a delivery by a very talented cast who make the material work. Praise goes to Nielsen in the lead; he may have worn his role thin over the years with typecasting and, shall we say 'less than perfect' material but give him the tools and he'll do you a job. He can be straight, he can dither or he can just be a clown and he does them all here his delivery is great whether it's action or reaction shots. Likewise I felt the rest of the cast did well even if most of them are given reaction shots to Drebin. Presley is straight and funny for it while Kennedy seems to fit into the material with ease. OJ doesn't have as much chance to be funny and seems a little stiff in the scenes he is in, but he is still good just pales a little when next to the others. I love Montalban and he uses his ooze really well in this film and his reaction shots are very good. The support is all good but it is Nielsen doing his (now) time-honoured turn as spoof-master than steals the show.
Overall I love this genre and consider this film (indeed the series) to be up there with Police Squad and Airplane. It is not as hilarious as Airplane but it has way more hits than misses and is relentlessly funny. As a film it isn't perfect but anyone watching this who complains about plot holes, lack of character development or lack of narrative really have missed the point.