(Second or third viewing, On DVD, October 2017) I first saw Hot Shots! as a teenager before seeing Top Gun, which may have coloured my perceptions of the so-called serious movie. But having recently seen Top Gun in its entirety makes a re-watch of Hot Shots! even funnier. This spoof, is the pure ZAZ lineage, relies a lot on deadpan jokes and actors playing ridiculous material as seriously as possible. Peak-era Charlie Sheen makes for a credible mixture of action-hero looks and comic timing, while Valeria Golino is both spectacular and hilarious as the obligatory (but not perfunctory) love interest—female roles in spoof comedies rarely get as good a character as she does here. While Hot Shots! is focused on Top Gun, it does have time to indulge in broader gags and isn’t content (as with many worse recent spoof movies) simply running through the original plot with extra slapstick and pop-culture references. As a result, Hot Shots! has aged well, even for those who haven’t watched Top Gun recently. In fact, it may even have appreciated slightly since its release given that the bottom has fallen out of the comedy subgenre. A competent spoof upon release, Hot Shots! now stands as a remarkably funny film today.
(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!