In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

Thumb mv5bnwriyzyxntetymu5my00m2q5ltk5y2itzjhkmtzmnjvhymfhxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyntazmty4mda . v1 sy1000 cr0 0 674 1000 al

Lean on Pete

I marveled at the humanist depth of the world Haigh creates, one that can only be rendered by a truly great writer and director, working…

Thumb benji


This 2018 release feels like it arrived fresh from 1974, and that is what makes it a delight.

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives


The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell Of Fear


The critical mind boggles at the opportunity to review “The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear.” What can usefully be said about this movie, other than the essential information that I laughed? The plot exists to be disregarded, the characters are deliberately constructed of cardboard, the sight gags are idiotic, and the dialogue is dumb. Really dumb. So dumb you laugh twice, once because of how stupid it is, and the second time because you fell for it.

“The Naked Gun 2 1/2” is not the best of the slapstick parody films by the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker boys; that honor goes to “Top Secret!” (1984) with its inspired performance by Val Kilmer. The movie was a spoof of Elvis Presley musicals and Cold War spy stories, both at the same time, and I still laugh when I remember the spy who is shot and lies dying in an alley, and pulls out a letter that must be mailed by midnight. It’s for one of those Ed McMahon sweepstakes promotions.


Naked,” etc., stars Leslie Nielsen, first utilized by the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker team in the original “Airplane!” in 1980, and since developed into the superstar of this genre. Nielsen’s secret is that he does almost nothing, and certainly nothing he seems to think is funny.

He is the wooden straight guy, unaware of all that’s going on around him, completely lacking in insight, without charm, grace or intelligence, a total square - in other words, everyman. In this movie he plays Lt. Frank Drebin, his character from the old “Police Squad!” TV series, who as the movie opens is a guest of honor at a White House dinner, at which a Barbara Bush lookalike is pummeled with doors and lobsters. Later, as the plot develops, he tries to rekindle his old love affair with Priscilla Presley, while getting to the bottom of an attempt to sabotage the national policy on the ecology.

Sample dialogue reflecting the nature of their relationship: He: “How are the children?” She: “We never had any children, Frank.” One of the knacks of the filmmakers is to find actors who can get laughs more or less by playing their images, as Zsa Zsa Gabor, Robert Goulet and George Kennedy do in this movie. Another knack is the crude, unsubtle nature of their visual style, in which the favored camera angle is to stare a sight gag right in the eye. A third is the low blow, as in a hilarious restaurant scene where all of the pictures on the wall depict great catastrophes - some natural, some human, one political.

Hey, look. The same day I saw “Naked,” etc., I saw a movie about a mother who seeks her long-lost son, and another movie about a savior from the future who has come back to save the human race. It was kind of fun to settle back for the third bill on the triple feature and know that for 85 minutes I might possibly laugh, and would certainly not be called upon to think.

Popular Blog Posts

SXSW Film Festival 2018: “Ready Player One”

A review of Steven Spielberg's "Ready Player One" from the SXSW Film Festival.

When Is a Superhero Movie Not Just a Movie? When it is "Black Panther."

An article about the wide-ranging efforts to arrange free screenings for students and young people to see the groundb...

A brief note on depression

It's not uncommon to feel blue.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus