Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult-1994
Starring-Leslie Nielsen, George Kennedy
Scott’s Review #1,104
Reviewed January 26, 2021
Despite being the third and final (get it?) installment in the popular Naked Gun (1988-1994) franchise, Naked Gun 33 1/3 The Final Insult (1994) is my favorite of the trio despite having a silly title. The title of “33 1/3” is a reference to the revolutions per minute of an LP playing on a phonograph, a point that has nothing to do with the actual film. It was also inexplicably decided to leave off the “The” in the title, leaving Naked Gun instead of The Naked Gun. Why is anyone’s guess? Nor does it matter.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not a great film but it’s better than the other two, which is shocking in a spoof/screwball comedy going for the standard gags. But, as dumb as the film is, it’s also kind of fun and light-weight. Think- a needed chuckle requiring little thought following a rough day at the office.
A familiar formula is followed and this time the events culminate at the glorious Hollywood Oscar celebration, the apple in the eye of all Los Angeles, undoubtedly the main reason this effort is marginally enjoyable. For unfamiliar viewers, the Naked Gun films are a combination of the Airplane! (1980-1982) and the over-exhausted Police Academy (1984-1994) franchises. The films were out of gas by 1994.
The franchise is based on the short-lived television series Police Squad! (1982), a procedural comedy about bumbling police personnel and the situations they get themselves into to showcase their ineptness.
The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult was O.J. Simpson’s final role before he was damned for all eternity for his presumed role in the murder of his wife and her friend in a ritzy area of California.
Leslie Nielsen returns as Frank Drebin, retired and living with his wife Jane (Priscilla Presley). Bored with life, they experience marital problems and seek counseling. Six months after Frank’s retirement, he is visited by Captain Ed Hocken (George Kennedy) and Officer Nordberg (Simpson), who ask for Frank’s help with an investigation. Police Squad has caught wind that mischievous bomber Rocco Dillon (Fred Ward), who is currently incarcerated, has been hired by terrorists to conduct a major bombing against the United States.
As Frank tries to keep Jane from finding out that he is dabbling in detective work again, he jokes that he is having an affair to throw her off the track. When she begins to suspect he really is having an affair this leads to a silly series of misunderstandings and gags which naturally are wrapped up as is always the case in films like this.
Nielsen is the main draw and he does what he does best and what makes him the king of spoof films. A serious actor before Airplane! he became typecast but had lots of successes ahead of him. He embraces his role which adds freshness. He doesn’t take himself so seriously so audiences can sit back and relax, enjoying the entertainment.
The lavish awards ceremony and the ingenious idea to plant the bomb within the coveted Best Picture Oscar sealed envelope is delicious, especially when the bomb is set to detonate when the card is pulled from the envelope and the winner crowned. This creates a good measure of suspense as the award show carries on toward the big finale.
George Kennedy has little to do but it’s the inclusion of stars like Vanna White, Weird Al Yankovic, and Pia Zadora that add zest to the production.
Director, Peter Segal, famous for lightweight comedies with heart, is wise to keep the running time at a quick one hour and twenty-two minutes. If longer, any momentum the film musters would have disintegrated. This was his feature-length directorial debut.
The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult (1994) may be the best in the trio but that says quite little considering it’s based on funnier and fresher endeavors. I champion the early Police Academy films for a needed dose of police incompetence and hilarity done up in a fun way. If one must watch a Naked Gun film and is partial to the Academy Awards, this one is begrudgingly suggested.