Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Runtime: 90 minutes
The Naked Gun David Zucker--of the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker creative troika behind Airplane! and television's Police Squad!--directed this 1988 feature film based on the latter show. Leslie Nielsen returns to his old TV role of Lt. Frank Drebin, the deadpan idiot with a detective's badge. The reinvention of the failed series as a theatrical feature seems to have inspired everyone involved to make a pretty funny movie, and the jokes gather a momentum that lasts until the final act. Ricardo Montalban is a perfect foil as a villain whose aquarium is being invaded by Drebin during routine questioning, and George Kennedy is delightful in a self-parodying part as an earnest but obtuse lawman. There's a hilarious bit when Drebin--wearing a live police wire while going to the bathroom--can be overheard over the loudspeakers at a speech given by a flustered mayor (Nancy Marchand). Yes, that's O.J. Simpson as a detective who ends up on the wrong side of numerous Drebin blunders. --Tom Keogh Top Secret! In between the disaster movie satire Airplane! in 1980 and the hardboiled cop show parody The Naked Gun in 1988, the comedy crew of Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and David Zucker put together a picture that's almost as funny as their better-known hits. Top Secret! sends up spy movies and cheesy teen rock & roll musicals. Val Kilmer stars as swivel-hipped American rocker Nick Rivers, a sort of blonde Elvis whose secret weapon is Little Richard's tune "Tutti Fruitti." On tour behind the Iron Curtain, Nick strikes blows for democracy overtly and covertly, with his music as well as his espionage skills. In short, this is a very, very silly motion picture. Some great gags, including a subtitled scene in a Swedish book shop, and an inspired bit with a Ford Pinto that not everybody may get anymore. (The Pinto, you may or may not recall, was notoriously prone to gas tank explosions when rear-ended.) --Jim Emerson Airplane! The quintessential movie spoof that spawned an entire genre of parody films, the original Airplane! still holds up as one of the brightest comedic gems of the '80s, not to mention of cinema itself (it ranked in the top 5 of Entertainment Weekly's list of the 100 funniest movies ever made). The humor may be low and obvious at times, but the jokes keep coming at a rapid-fire clip and its targets--primarily the lesser lights of '70s cinema, from disco films to star-studded disaster epics--are more than worthy for send-up. If you've seen even one of the overblown Airport movies then you know the plot: the crew of a filled-to-capacity jetliner is wiped out and it's up to a plucky stewardess and a shell-shocked fighter pilot to land the plane. Robert Hays and Julie Hagerty are the heroes who have a history that includes a meet-cute à la Saturday Night Fever, a surf scene right out of From Here to Eternity, a Peace Corps trip to Africa to teach the natives the benefits of Tupperware and basketball, a war-ravaged recovery room with a G.I. who thinks he's Ethel Merman (a hilarious cameo)--and those are just the flashbacks! The jokes gleefully skirt the boundaries of bad taste (pilot Peter Graves to a juvenile cockpit visitor: "Joey, have you ever seen a grown man naked?"), with the high (low?) point being Hagerty's intimate involvement with the blow-up automatic pilot doll, but they'll have you rolling on the floor. The film launched the careers of collaborators Jim Abrahams (Big Business), David Zucker (Ruthless People), and Jerry Zucker (Ghost), as well as revitalized such B-movie actors as Lloyd Bridges, Peter Graves, Robert Stack, and Leslie Nielsen, who built a second career on films like this. A vital part of any video collection. --Mark Englehart
Listen to me Hillary. I'm not the first guy who fell in love with a woman that he met at a restaurant who turned out to be the daughter of a kidnapped scientist only to lose her to her childhood lover who she last saw on a deserted island who then turned out fifteen years later to be the leader of the French underground.
I know. It all sounds like some bad movie.