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.