(On DVD, October 2017) One of the problems in watching the Naked Gun trilogy on successive days is that the series is so generally consistent in achieving its comic objectives that it’s difficult to tease apart any film-specific commentary. So what’s to be said about Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult? The film is funny; Leslie Nielsen is comedy gold with his deadpan portrayal of a veteran cop; OJ Simpson features in it. This third instalment gets more insistent with its movie-specific parodies, heralding the downfall of the subgenre later on. There’s also a crudeness to some of the gags that clearly makes this third volume the least successful in the trilogy, but that’s not really unexpected. At least the climax, set at the Academy Awards, allows for some pokes at Hollywood itself, although the references there are getting dated far more quickly than the rest of the series. Still, once you’ve started this series, there’s no real reason to stop—even as a third instalment, the film is funny enough to warrant a look.
(On DVD, October 2017) While The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear is slightly less funny than its predecessor, the difference is slight enough as to be negligible, and the original started out high enough. The result is another solid comedy, perhaps a bit more dubiously motivated (what is Frank Drebin doing in Washington, all of a sudden?) but still effectively hitting upon the tropes of police thrillers. There are a few more outright nods to specific films, but they’re still controlled well compared to the grotesque excesses of more contemporary spoofs. The poke at Bush(I)-era American politics date the film more quickly than the generic cop-thriller stuff of the first film. Otherwise, there isn’t much to say about the film that wasn’t already discussed for the first film: It’s a consistent series, now without its flaws but good enough to be worth a few laughs.
(On DVD, October 2017) Much of the fun in watching The Naked Gun is in seeing the Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker team (along with Pat Proft) take on the police thriller as worthy of spoofing. Using Leslie Nielsen as a gaffe-prone policeman with more zeal than polish is inspired, but then again most of The Naked Gun comes from the short-lived but still-hilarious Police Squad! TV show. The basic elements being familiar to the filmmakers, the film itself seems well-practised, something that also probably has to do with the previous ZAZ spoof movies. In any case, the solid plot acts as a clothesline on which to add various gags, joke sequences and parodies. The number of outright parodies is low (the shift would happen in later instalments of the series) but the laughs are high, mostly because the film is spoofing a genre and generating a lot of jokes along the way. Leslie Nielsen is solid, playing his ridiculous character Frank Drebin with absolute dryness. Ricardo Montalban is also a highlight in his own way, while Priscilla Presley, George Hamilton and (ironically now) O.J. Simpson round up the main cast. The third act does get a bit long especially if you have no great interest in baseball. Still, no matter how you see it, The Naked Gun remains a terrific spoof comedy, as essential today as other classics of the genre such as Airplane!, Top Secret! or Hot Shots!