- Directed by Peter Segal
- March 18, 1994
Frank Drebin, having retired, is called back in to action to stop a mad bomber from blowing up the Academy Awards.
Naked Gun 33 1⁄3: The Final Insult is the final film in one of the greatest comedy trilogies ever. Not that there are many. I think The Hangover is the only one that comes to mind. I could be wrong however.
This one is just as funny as the previous two in the series, but I must also add in there is not as much going on in the background as in the first two movies. Most of the jokes are in the foreground and that is where the film largely suffers. One of the joys of its predecessors as well as the series that inspired this were the goings on happening behind the characters. A little under 30 years later and I still find so much in the backgrounds of the other two.
That is not to say there are not jokes in the background, but it does not seem as packed as the others. Most of the background jokes occur in the first 3rd to first half of the movie and the gimmick seems to fade away afterwards. My favorite blink and miss it gag is featured in the photo for this blog post “Dyslexia for cure found.” It is just so unbelievably stupid that I laugh each time I see it.
The jokes are still great. I have seen all three of these movies dozens of times and I still laugh like a moron each time I watch them. Anything that is a classic is still as enjoyable when you see it for the third of fourth or 20th time as it was the first. Or almost as enjoyable. This passes that test with flying colors.
The humor is juvenile and largely not mean-spirited here. There are a few jokes done at the expense of the characters which is a bit of an anomaly in the Naked Gun/Police Squad universe. They are still funny and they’re still not genuinely mean spirited but rather Character A has become a little frustrated with Character B and is just trying to politely end things and it’s done so in a comedic way.
One thing that helps this movie as well as the connected works that came before fire on all cylinders is that Leslie Nielsen largely shared the same type of humor as the Zuckers did. They were on the same wavelength here. That is why any good comedy works and works well. The individual or individuals that carry the film must get the same type of jokes as the creative minds otherwise delivery can fall flat.
I look at the humor here and I do not think you could do some of it if not most of it today. There is a joke about Nordberg (O.J. Simpson) with an oversized Afro. Or the one involving Tanya Peters (Anna Nicole Smith) and her additional appendage. Or even the one when the inmate commenting how prison changes a person where he says he used to be white.
My only major gripe with this movie is that it begins with Frank being retired. I am not sure why it was necessary to do. I am probably taking it more seriously than it deserves but it just seemed pointless. Drebin could have been going through his issues with Jane (Priscilla Presley) as well as getting involved with this case by still being on the force. This is mindless comedy, but it was something that had nothing to do with the story and previously introduced elements were not wasted.
I do love that Ira Newborn crafted theme song! It is just such a great work of music on its own and somehow the perfect theme to the Naked Gun/Police Squad films. The guy has some good credits to his name, but I think this is by far his best work.
The cast was just perfect. Nielsen as Frank Drebin had brilliant comedic timing and the perfect rubbery face to react to make you laugh. George Kennedy had done comedy before this but nothing like this. He was a very underrated actor. While this was not Presley’s finest performance in the series she was just fantastic throughout. She played it probably as straight as George Kennedy did. And O.J. Simpson in this film as well as the other two brought a comedic naïveté to Nordberg in a way that made everything funnier.
Naked Gun 33 1⁄3: The Final Insult had a significant number of cameos in it. Florence Henderson. Elliot Gould. Raquel Welch. The obligatory “Weird Al” Yankovic. Vanna White. And so many more appeared as themselves. I really wish they had gotten Phil Donahue to play himself in this movie. Here is why.
One of the jokes is that Leslie Nielsen at the time had a casual resemblance to Donahue and takes his place at the Academy Awards. Whether Donahue refused to show up or they just never considered him I do not know but regardless it was a very missed opportunity. It does not hurt things but it is just one of those things I wish had happened.
Naked Gun 33 1⁄3: The Final Insult is a fantastic piece of comedic filmmaking. The jokes still land and it is as enjoyable today as it was when it first came out. This is definitely a watch it!