The Naked Gun

The Naked Gun

Twenty-five years later, another funnyman with not-as-beautiful white hair is stepping into Leslie Nielsen‘s shoes to reboot the Naked Gun franchise. Ed Helms will become the next Detective Frank Drebin in a new script conjured up from the minds of Thomas Lennon and R. Ben Garant. If you ignore this summer’s atrocious Hell Baby, they’re the highly talented writing duo behind Reno 911! and Night at the Museum. Garant and Lennon have been tapped to tackle the franchise with a new spin on the detective, which is probably good news considering the enormity of what they have to live up to with this project. Nielsen was Drebin, and to make this a straight redo would be a large misstep; no matter what Helms does with the role, people are going to see the cracks in the character and remember what they loved about the original. The Naked Gun franchise was a peculiar, particular brand of spoof comedy that many writers have attempted since, but have not succeeded in replicating. The creative trio of Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker made something unique — a blend of deadpan delivery, cheap laughs and clever lines that melded together into an absurd, perfect mess. Garant and Lennon are gifted writers, but they have to replicate, or at least pay homage to, a certain type of comedy that is not easy to create.

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naked gun nothing to see

This week was the third anniversary of Leslie Nielsen‘s death, which also marked the definite end of the most brilliant eras in movie spoof history. The period didn’t begin with his induction into the genre, and he certainly helped usher in a wave of weak entries (he even starred in the first movie written by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer), but he is still the actor most associated with these kinds of comedies, mainly due to his collaborations with the trio of Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker. Following his scene-stealing work in their classic Airplane!, they cast him as the lead on a short-lived TV series called Police Squad!. After it was quickly canceled, Nielsen spent time with serious parts in films and TV series before being brought back for the movie spin-off, The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!. Tomorrow is the 25th anniversary of the movie’s theatrical release, when it opened at #1 before going on to be among the top-ten grossers that debuted in 1988 (about half its take came following the new year). The success of this action movie parody led to sequels of diminishing quality, but the brand is in its entirety still one of the more celebrated comedy franchises. And this initial installment is still considered one of the top three favorite spoof movies of all time. To adequately honor all its hilarity would be difficult here, as the gags and jokes in The Naked Gun are so abundant, not […]

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IntroAnthem

Happy 4th of July, fellow patriots! Sorry – it’s just such an exciting day. That time every year were we can come together as Americans and watch a Jaws marathon in our basement den before screaming the national anthem on the front lawn at 3am without fear of prosecution… at least not without at least one verbal warning from the cops. And on that note, here’s a list of movie renditions of the “Star Spangled Banner” sung in the way our founding fathers intended: under great duress and during something terrible.

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IntroAwardShows

It’s silly to think that the outcome of Sunday’s Academy Awards is going to somehow change anything about the films nominated, just like it is silly to get any kinds of worked up about it unless you yourself happen to be up for an award. Really, the fun of the Oscars is watching all those unquenchable egos sitting under one roof, patting each other on the back in the form of golden naked men. So in the honor of emotional extremity, let us look back on the greater award show moments in films – some of which portraying the very ceremony they hope to be a part of.

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Every day, come rain or shine or internet tubes breaking, Film School Rejects showcases a trailer from the past. In Los Angeles, only one police officers has the guts to solve the worst conspiracy in the history of people plotting to kill people. Someone’s going to kill the Queen. It’s going to happen at a baseball game. And the cop is going to have to impersonate a famous opera singer to save her. Nice Beaver. Did you just have it stuffed? Check out the trailer for yourself:

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Thanks to the talents of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, the label “spoof” has lost all respect in the cinematic world. Often credited as “two of the writers of Scary Movie” (both as a joke and warning sign), Friedberg and Seltzer devolved the spoof film using an arsenal of pop culture references, bathroom humor and non sequiturs. Keeping it classy was never the goal. While their rampage through genre and cultural phenomena may never end, spoofing doesn’t have to live with shame either. Plenty of filmmakers have figured out ways to satirize the movie world and tell their own stories at the same time — it’s the movie-going public that’s afraid to use the dreaded s-word. Let’s suck it up and admit the truth: these ten films are hilarious, well-made and spoofs through and through:

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Culture Warrior

Had Leslie Nielsen never been cast in Airplane!, he still would have had a decent working career. He certainly never would have gone down as one of the great entertainers, but the man would have had work. After all, he did have a few noticeable (if not entirely notable) dramatic roles in genre fare ranging from Forbidden Planet (1956) to Prom Night (1980, the same year as Airplane!). But Nielsen did co-star in Airplane!, delivering one immortal line after another, which later catapulted his persona into legendary synonymy with contemporary cinematic parody. Jim Abrahams and the Zucker brothers may have been the minds behind what exactly the movie parody came to be, but Nielsen was undoubtedly the face and the voice. There is a reason that Leslie Nielsen happened.

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It’s a rare thing that two films would define a genre, but that’s exactly what Airplane! and The Naked Gun do for spoofs. They are the ultimate in that brand of comedy, simultaneously showing how funny drama can be and how difficult mining the laughter truly is. It’s an even rarer thing that a single actor would so thoroughly define a particular brand of storytelling. Leslie Nielsen made people laugh by not laughing. It’s a trait not shared by anyone else in the comedy world. Yet Nielsen consistently took every absurd situation he found his characters in, treated it with life or death certainty, and delivered punch lines without even seeming to notice them.

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