Wrongfully Accused

  • Written, Produced and Directed by Pat Proft
  • July 23, 1998 (Germany) / August 21, 1998 (US)

A world-famous violinist is wrongfully accused of murder and desperately tries to find the real culprits.

I say this often but Leslie Nielsen was the Don Knotts of his day. He was a rubbery faced comedian who engaged in some pretty silly stuff. Somehow because he was the one performing it worked. No matter how bad the project was (and I’ll be honest, he did some stinkers) he could really get you to at least enjoy it even if you felt guilty watching whatever it was. Enter Wrongfully Accused.

Wrongfully Accused is one of those extremely silly movies that you may not be proud of yourself for enjoying but you will enjoy it. It’s a parody of The Fugitive as well as other things and done by Pat Proft who was in part behind The Naked Gun films as well as Hot Shots. That is a good comedy pedigree with others to go along with those. While he has a long career, this is his only feature directorial effort. And it shows in parts of this.

There are bad puns and cheesy sight gags and seriously dumb jokes. At times this movie becomes a live action cartoon. At others it feels like a modern version of a 50s sitcom. There is a joke where a television is muted and the news anchor on screen realizes there is no sound. They go for the funny and the silly, tossing reality out the window. Wish more movies did that.

And that’s part of its joy. We get swipes at Baywatch and The Fugitive and even Charlie’s Angels. Richard Crenna’s character of Lieutenant Fergus Falls is a ridiculous caricature of Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive. Leslie Nielson’s Ryan Harrison is a name combo of Jack Ryan and Harrison Ford and clearly is the antithesis of the types of characters that comes to mind when you think of Ford.

While jokes need to come steady, you also need to give them time to breath before the next one hits. You also need to know which ones to keep and which to cut. That is on top of the ones that the larger audience will get as well as a smaller group will understand. While most people at the time will laugh at the John Walsh cameo, not everybody will get the Commissioner Maury Hannigan and the “real stories” request. And that is on top of the Minnesota references throughout the film.

We get jokes involving Field of Dreams and North by Northwest. Even if you don’t get all the pop-culture references, there’s plenty in this that you will understand at least something about. My favorite joke of the movie is probably the most juvenile. It is when Ryan Harrison is on the run and gets trapped in a diaper service truck. When he finally gets out, the stink is clinging to him, and people start passing out all over the place around him. It’s just stupid and silly. I am an eight year old child at heart so there is that.

The plot that causes all the problems centers around a frame up of Ryan Harrison which connects to a plot to kill the Secretary General of the United Nations in order to help terrorists. I felt that was a bit much and too grand though the use of Nielsen as the action hero and irresistible lady’s man helps even that out a touch. What happened felt forced and not connected to the basics.

Profts’ directing is a bit flat and lacks a style that adds punch to the comedy. It feels that the performances are presented as is. It is missing something that makes it stand the test of time or made it special then. Wrongfully Accused is clearly done on the cheap and they try to use that cheapness to their benefit but are not always successful. You don’t need high production values for anything this silly and those low production values often make some of the jokes just a little bit funnier.

Wrongfully Accused is not brilliant but it is an entertaining comedy. You’ll laugh and snicker and you ultimately will have a smile by the time the credits roll. It gets more right than it gets wrong. The jokes though are very anchored around the era in which this was made. It lacks the generally timeless nature of Airplane! or even the Naked Gun comedies. Jokes in a film can contain pop culture references but the number of such should be under half and/or those jokes done in such a way you find humor without full knowledge. They often fail that here.

Wrongfully Accused is an entertaining and silly comedy film. You’ll laugh and you’ll be entertained. It’s no Police Squad! or Airplane! or a must see but if you find it on a streaming service it’s worth checking out.

Published by warrenwatchedamovie

Just a movie lover trying spread the love.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: