A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1 is a 1993 comedy that's a parody of the Lethal Weapon movie franchise and "cop movies" in general. The movie centers on a plot to lace Girl Scout cookies with cocaine. Some iffy (and not very funny) jokes and sight gags throughout. During a parody of the infamous "short skirt" scene from Basic Instinct, the female lead, seated in front of dozens of male cops in an interrogation room, begins to open her legs as the men ogle and fight for the best view, and then an animated beaver appears with the caption "Gratuitous Beaver Shot." During a gunfight, one of the bad guys shoots the door until it spells out "F.U." Brief nudity, male buttocks. Some stereotyping; Indian clerks in a convenience store shout in stereotypical accents at each other and the customers. Cigarette smoking. Booze drinking, including sight gag where the lead character dumps the contents of various bottles of alcohol into the same blender before drinking. Occasional profanity, including "s--t." Car bombs explode and kill characters. Implied sex between the main male and female characters.
What's the story?
In NATIONAL LAMPOON'S LOADED WEAPON 1 Wes Luger (Samuel L. Jackson) suspects foul play in the death of his former partner Billie York (Whoopi Goldberg). While the Captain believes it to be a suicide, he nonetheless gives Luger the case, but on one condition: He must be partnered with Jack Colt (Emilio Estevez), a cop who plays by his own rules, and has also been drinking heavily since the death of his dog. The pair soon learn that York's murder is linked to a nefarious plot to lace Wilderness Girls cookies with cocaine, spearheaded by the criminal masterminds Mortars (William Shatner) and Jigsaw (Tim Curry). Luger and Colt visit the Wilderness Girls Cookie factory, where they meet the owner, Miss Destiny Demeanor (Kathy Ireland). An attraction begins to form between Cold and Demeanor, even as Colt and Luger believe she might be in on the plot. It's up to Luger and Colt to stop the distribution of the cocaine cookies while also bringing York's killer to justice.
Is it any good?
This movie fails where other parody movies, such as the Airplane! or Naked Gun franchises, succeed. Despite all the puns, sight gags, and cameo appearances in National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1, very few of the attempts at humor manage to elicit even a chuckle. While some of this can be attributed to how this movie hasn't aged well since its 1993 release, the biggest problem is that so many of the jokes are endlessly repeated, and they weren't that great to begin with. For instance, the police chief is constantly shouting at everyone, even at close proximity. This is mildly amusing the first time, but after that, the only reaction he inspires is, "Yeah, we get it."
Even with such a talented all-star cast, the movie falls short. There's a surface-level silliness throughout, but none of it's especially absurd, original, or creative. In fact, a lot of the humor is as stock as the "buddy cop movie" stock characters being parodied throughout. The result is a parody of a genre that really doesn't need to be parodied, because it's doing just a fine job parodying itself.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about parody movies. What are some of the ways in which National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1 parodies scenes from specific movies, and how does it parody the tropes of "cop movies" in general?
How does the movie attempt to use exaggerated sex and violence for the sake of comedy?
In what ways does the movie seem dated?
- In theaters: February 4, 1993
- On DVD or streaming: September 8, 2009
- Cast: Emilio Estevez, Samuel L. Jackson, William Shatner
- Director: Gene Quintano
- Studio: Warner Brothers
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 82 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: Ribald humor and drug references
- Last updated: December 19, 2019
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