Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear

Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear
Director: David Zucker
Screenplay:David Zucker & Pat Proft
Stars: Leslie Nielsen (Lt. Frank Drebin), Priscilla Presley (Jane Spencer), George Kennedy(Capt. Ed Hocken), O.J. Simpson (Nordberg), Robert Goulet (Quentin Hapsburg), RichardGriffiths (Dr. Mainheimer/Earl Hacker), Jacqueline Brooke (Commissioner Brumford),Anthony James (Hector Savage)
MPAA Rating:PG-13
Year of Release: 1991
Country: USA
Naked Gun 2 1/2 Poster

Any director will tell you that how a character is first introduced in a movie is of the utmostimportance. So, it says a lot that Lt. Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen), the irrepressibly inanepolice detective from "The Naked Gun," is introduced in the sequel walking out of the men'sroom, causing First Lady Barbara Bush to slam face-first into the door. That's the Drebin weknow and love: a walking disaster who is utterly and completely unaware of the destructionhe constantly causes.

While not as uproariously funny as the first entry in the series, "Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smellof Fear" (the sarcastic advertising campaign billed it as "the sequel so big they neededanother half") has a sharper edge of social satire. Taking place in 1991 at the tail end of theReagan/Bush years of conservative government, big military spending, and a lack of emphasison environmental concerns, "Naked Gun 2 1/2" sets its sights on big oil companies, coalproducers, and nuclear power plants that will do anything to keep the government fromembracing a plan of renewable energy.

The bad guy this time around is Quentin Hapsburg (an extra-smamry Robery Goulet), an oilexecutive who is also dating Jane (Priscilla Presley), Drebin's girlfriend from the first movie.Apparently, Drebin's police work got in the way of their relationship, and now she is workingas the public relations director for Dr. Albert Mainhemer (Richard Griffiths), a scientist towhom President George Bush is placing responsibility for setting the country's energypolicy. To keep Mainhemer from pushing his policy of conservation and renewableenergies like solar power, Hapsburg and members of the other energy companies kidnapMainhemer and replace him with a lookalike who will recommend to the President anincreased focus on oil, coal, and nuclear power.

The satirical barbs aimed at big business and energy companies are sharp, with oneparticularly hilarious scene depicting an oil company commercial in which the announcerespouses the rigorous means by which they select their oil barge captains, while the imageon the TV shows all the captains being tested for alcohol intoxication (remember, this cameout right after the Exxon Valdez disaster). Environmental jokes are everywhere, includingpoor Frank's attempts to woo back Jane. He simply can't understand why she would beupset that he bought up acres of Brazilian rain forest and then slashed and burned them tomake way for their dream home. "Hey, you think it was easy displacing an entire tribe?" heasks.

The movie does not concern itself entirely with social issues, though. One can only imaginehow much fun director David Zucker had parodying the famous love scene from his brotherJerry's hit movie "Ghost" (1990). Watching Leslie Nielsen and Priscilla Presley trying toact sexy while pottery clay is splattering them in the face makes you realize howpotentially ridiculous (and kind of gross) the "Ghost" scene is.

"Naked Gun 2 1/2" is primarily the work of David Zucker, who co-wrote and directed thefirst film. His partners in the infamous ZAZ team, his brother Jerry and their childhoodfriend Jim Abrahams, take a backseat as executive producers, leaving the writing chores upto David Zucker and Pat Proft (who also contributed to the original's screenplay). They doa good job of maintaining the comedic momentum while also expanding on the characters(as much as can be done in a film of this sort). The movie is, like the first one, filled withself-consciously idiotic dialogue and throwaway gags. One of my favorites scenes takesplace in a sad-sack lounge called "The Blue Note" that features pictures of the San Franciscoearthquake, the Titanic, and Michael Dukakis on the walls and a depressed singer whointones, "I'm feeling blue, Just thinking of you, I get out of bed, Wish I was dead, And I hopeyou do, too."

This sequel might feel like a simple reworking of the first film if Leslie Nielsen weren't soconsistently appealing in his role as Frank Drebin. It's only in a movie like this that the maincharacter can stand up and take applause for having killed his 1,000th drug dealer, and thenremark, "In all honesty, the last two I backed over with my car. Luckily they turned out to bedrug dealers." It's just that kind of movie.

Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of FearDVD

AudioDolby Digital 5.1Surround
Dolby 2.0 Surround
ExtrasAudio commentary by directorDavid Zucker, producer Robert Weiss, and host Peter Tilden
Original theatrical trailer
Teaser trailer

The new anamorphic widescreen transfer of this film is a littlemore grainy that the first "Naked Gun" disc (especially in the night scenes), but it is still avast improvement over what had previously been available. Colors are well saturated andflesh tones appear realistic. There was a small amount of pixel breakup from time to time,but nothing distracting.

This disc offers both a newly remastered Dolby Digital 5.1surround track and a Dolby 2.0 surround track. There is not a great deal of differencebetween the two, as the 5.1 track keeps most of the action limited to the front soundstage.The only time it truly opens up is when Ira Newborn's musical score kicks in (seeespecially the opening credits sequence).

Like the first "Naked Gun," this DVD features a runningcommentary with director David Zucker, producer Robert Weiss, and host Peter Tilden.Once again, they spend most of their time joking, proving why they are so adept at comingup with their material. The disc also features the original theatrical trailer and a teaser trailerthat uses the "Ghost" spoof scene. Both trailers are presented in anamorphicwidescreen.

©2000 James Kendrick

Overall Rating: (3)

James Kendrick

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