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Blu-ray Review: The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!

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The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! from David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrams, and Pat Proft is a hilarious satire from the same team responsible for Airplane! and Top Secret!. The 1988 movie is spawned from the short-lived TV show Police Squad!. The 1982 show only aired six episodes but it developed a cult following which led to it being brought to the big screen. Despite its limited run, Police Squad earned two Emmy nominations, one for Leslie Nielsen in the lead role and one for writing. For the movie, Nielsen stayed on in the starring role as Detective Frank Drebin. The other roles were recast with the part of Captain Ed Hocken going to George Kennedy, and the role Frank’s partner Nordberg going to O.J. Simpson.

Frank Drebin is a detective trying to solve the attempted murder of his partner Nordberg. His detective work leads him to super-rich businessman Vincent Ludwig (Ricardo Montalban) and Ludwig’s assistant Jane (Priscilla Presley). Drebin falls in love with Jane and discovers Ludwig’s plot to assassinate the Queen on her upcoming visit to Los Angeles. It is up to Drebin to expose Ludwig and stop the crime. It’s a simple plot that is both outrageous and believable at the same time.

It may not sound like a funny story, but it’s not meant to. That’s one of the things that makes Naked Gun so great. The story is taken seriously by all of the characters. No one is trying to be funny. What’s funny is everything that happens around them and the off-handed remarks made with utter sincerity. The Queen visiting the United States in itself is not funny, but the Queen at a baseball game passing a hot dog down the row is. Frank Drebin as the home plate umpire at that same game is hilarious. Naked Gun is funny from beginning to end, which is a rarity in a lot of comedies. It is especially rare in comedies with a crime plot because they usually get wrapped up in tying up the plot and stop with the jokes. Naked Gun manages to sidestep that problem with its climatic baseball game sequence.

Unlike most modern spoof movies Naked Gun does not rely on specific movie parodies, but instead is a satire of a genre. In this case Police Squad was a satire of TV detective dramas, but the formula translates well to the big screen. What works about Naked Gun is that the movie has a complete storyline. You could take away all of the jokes and there would still be a story. Clever satire is not an easy task, but Naked Gun hits it on all levels. The lines are funny and the actors’ delivery is perfect. It’s that perfect combination that makes Naked Gun the hilarious comedy that it is.

Naked Gun is presented with a dual layer BD50 and a MPEG-4 AVC coded transfer to HD. This Blu-ray looks very good. The colors are bright, the skin tones look natural, and the picture is fairly crisp. There are only a couple of softer-looking scenes, particularly at the beginning and during some of the nighttime scenes. Overall I would say the picture is worth the upgrade to Blu-ray. One thing to note is that a framing error that appeared on the previous DVD release has been fixed. It is in the “love scene” between Drebin and Jane where the DVD framing was too low revealing the clothing Presley was wearing.

The sound is presented in 5.1 lossless DTS-HD Master Audio. Most of the audio is up front with the surrounds primarily used for some background noise and score. The dialog is clear and easy to understand, with the bulk of the sound coming from the right, left and center channels. The extras are the same as the DVD release. There is an entertaining and informative commentary from David Zucker, producer Robert Weiss, and host Peter Tilden. There is also an HD theatrical trailer. As of September 2011 The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! is a Best Buy exclusive.

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About Sherry Lipp

Sherry Lipp is an entertainment and food writer who specializes in film and television reviews. She has published the gluten and grain-free cookbook Don't Skip Dessert.
  • Jordan Richardson

    This is one of my favourite comedies, so I’ll be picking this one up on Blu.

    “Cops and women don’t mix. It’s like eating a spoonful of Drano; sure, it’ll clean you out, but it’ll leave you hollow inside.”