- Directed by David Zucker
- June 28, 1991
Frank Drebin must stop a kidnap plot involving a scientist advocating for renewable energy and dastardly energy companies.
The Naked Gun 2 1⁄2: The Smell of Fear is a film that in my opinion manages to improve (by a hair) upon its predecessor. It’s a little sillier and a little bit more unusual. One thing they do differently is completely move the setting and no character reacts to it. The previous film is clearly set in Los Angeles and this one is clearly set in Washington DC. This is funny because there is continuity between this film and the last.
Interestingly this is a screwball comedy film with a pro environmental message. The story is that a group of industrialists do not want a pro renewable energy policy for the US government and set out to sabotage it by kidnapping Dr. Albert Meinheimer (Richard Griffiths) who is a scientist that has been tasked by the government to come up with that policy. The same people that brought you “Don’t call me Shirley” also bring you an environmental message comedy film that is genuinely funny.
There is more than what is going on in the foreground to look at and laugh at. I have watched this film numerous times since it came out and I still find something in the background that I missed. There are sight gags and jokes galore in this movie. And interestingly the jokes do not stop when the credits begin to roll. There are still a few jokes packed into the credits. That is a rarity among comedy films.
The Naked Gun 2 1⁄2: The Smell of Fear is a movie that if you just casually watch it you will laugh but if you pay attention-I mean really pay attention-you will find so much to keep laughing at from start to finish. The jokes come steady. There is one after the other either in the foreground or in the background. And you have time to appreciate it before the next one hits. How many comedies are ever that meaty?
Leslie Nielsen is in fantastic form as the clueless and somewhat bumbling Frank Drebin. His deadpan delivery and rubbery face were absolutely perfect for comedy and one of the reasons that he was not only a fine dramatic actor but was also a brilliant comedic actor.
I am just amazed that George Kennedy’s comedic ability. He gets a bit of a bad rap, but the man was genuinely talented and I dare say as demonstrated here a better comedic actor than a dramatic performer. Despite his long career he nailed it as Captain Ed Hocken to the point this is what he is most remembered for.
Priscilla Presley as Jane was a surprise to me. I still identify her more as Elvis’s ex-wife than anything but as a parody of the token love interest she was so good.
Anybody else watch anything with OJ Simpson in it and find it odd. He’s either the nice guy or the hero and all things considered now it is really interesting how he was able to bank on a clearly false public persona.
There are a few points that denote the era in which this movie was made but overall the humor is timeless. It is just silly jokes that are borderline juvenile but genuinely funny while being juvenile. And nothing is really meanspirited. The characters are either blissfully unaware or simply ignorant and the humor derives from that.
The jokes are not mean. As a general rule there is nothing mean-spirited in this film. A joke occurs because the character just doesn’t know or because one character is attempting to be helpful to another or things get comically out of hand but no one is put down or humiliated in order to make something funny. Other than the villain of the film a joke never occurs at the expense of anyone.
Speaking of the villain of the film, Quentin Hapsburg is played by Robert Goulet. I know he had done some acting before this, but I am not sure I have seen too much of his work other than his special guest star appearance on the Police Squad! television series. Yes ladies and gentlemen, he appeared in the opening segment as one of the special guest stars who got killed before you ever got to the episode.
One of my favorite old series is the original The Twilight Zone. The stories were fantastic and the acting was great. They can leave you with something to think about or even disturb you a little to this day. Admittedly the effects are dated but other than that the show is timeless. Why do I bring this up? Because one of my favorite jokes in the whole film is connected to that very series.
Lloyd Bochner, who appears here as industrialist Terence Baggett, had appeared previously in the classic TZ episode titled “To Serve Man.” The title of the episode was a reference to a cookbook that the aliens brought with them. In the finale of this movie when panic ensues because Nordberg accidentally tells everyone there’s a bomb in the building, Bochner is running around with a large book and screaming “It’s a cookbook! It’s a cookbook!”
I don’t know how many people would be willing to say this or even think of this but the Police Squad/Naked Gun music is among my favorite film scores. It’s got a big band swing feel to it. I just enjoy it. Somehow it managed to fit this but it’s also enjoyable on its own.
The Naked Gun 2 1⁄2: The Smell of Fear is not only a classic film in its own right but a follow up that equals its predecessor. If you enjoy laughing at a comedy from beginning to end this movie is for you. If you do not then I do not know what to tell you.
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