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

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgas..., Common Sense Media
The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear Movie Poster Image
Raunchy, dated send-up of cop movies has lots of sex.
  • PG-13
  • 1991
  • 85 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Work to protect the environment. Expect the battle to be uphill.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Frank courageously pursues bad guys but is an idiot. The police are largely inept. Environmentalists want to make renewable energy more affordable and widespread, but coal, oil, and nuclear executives try to thwart that initiative.

Violence

All violence is staged to seem cartoonish. An explosion meant to be comic kills people. There are numerous fistfights and gunfights. A villain is accidentally thrown out the window of a multistory building. He lands unharmed but he is immediately (bloodlessly) attacked by a lion. A man in a wheelchair is catapulted off a balcony. He recovers. A police officer trying to plant a tracking device on a car is dragged by the car for blocks but survives.

Sex

Both bottomless men and women are seen for comic effect. A woman is topless but only viewed from the back. There is a reference to sexually abusive Boy Scout troop leaders. A police artist draws a pretty woman in a tight clingy dress rather than the perpetrator she describes, prompting the lieutenant to suggest hiring a gay artist. A vibrator is shown at a sex shop, where a sales person also mentions a "sucking machine." A clothed man's face is accidentally pushed into a clothed woman's crotch. All sex is played for comedy. Two adults kiss; his chest is bare, and she puts her hand in his pants, pulls out a lump of clay, and then makes an ashtray while they make out. They have sex (no sexual body parts shown), accompanied by a montage of sexual and orgasmic images -- trains going through tunnels, fireworks, and the like. Someone reads aloud from a paperback called Strokin' the Love Muffin. "Purple-headed warrior" and "quivering mound of love pudding" are mentioned. A pair of handcuffs suggests someone's penchant for sadomasochistic sex, but none is seen.

Language

"F--k," "Christ," "hell," "bitch."

Consumerism

Part of the Naked Gun series.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear is a 1991 send-up of police procedurals that is part of the Naked Gun series. This male teenage dream is filled with good-natured juvenile raunch, bare bottoms, an anatomically correct vibrator in the background, breast jokes, comic sex scenes, vaudevillian sight gags, absurdist fight scenes, shoot-outs, and a poop joke. No subject is sacred, and jokes about the disabled, child molestation, racism, homosexuality, and incest are tossed as asides, making this movie an equal-opportunity (pretend) offender. All movie conventions are reproduced, tweaked, and mocked. Everyone will know that the detectives are stupid, the villains are stock, and the violence is comic (a bomb explodes in an office building, killing many, but dopey guards think it's only a clock) -- and therein (supposedly) lies the humor. Beneath all the crudity is a pro-environmental, anti-pollution message. Expect to hear the words "f--k," "Christ," "hell," and "bitch."

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What's the story?

THE NAKED GUN 2 1/2: THE SMELL OF FEAR features a hero/idiot, the clueless police lieutenant Frank Drebin, played with gaga abandon by Leslie Nielsen. Oblivious to his surroundings, he routinely throws open doors with sufficient force to knock down gun-wielding maniacs and the First Lady of the United States. His fire still burns for his ex, a solar-energy promoter who discovers a plot to kidnap her boss, a scientist and clean-energy policymaker who poses a threat to oil, coal, and nuclear interests. Embodied by the evil oil CEO played with malevolent glee by Robert Goulet, these forces bomb environmentalist's headquarters and abduct an ideological foe.

Is it any good?

This sequel to The Naked Gun is edgy; families who are not into bawdy humor will find it distasteful. It has a few hilarious moments; this makes statistical sense, as a joke or sight gag appears around every three seconds in this 85-minute movie -- you do the math. Most of the insanity is probably as effective as it ever was, but the movie's age shows starkly here as, for example, when Zsa Zsa Gabor and Mel Torme appear in cameos. The movie's pro-environmental theme is as current as ever with Big Money coal, oil, and nuclear executives trying to edge renewable energy out of the market and public policy. Best for fans of the series.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the filmmakers immediately let the audience know that this is meant to be silly. What are some of the first clues?

  • How does a comedy built on making fun of a movie genre differ from other kinds of comedy? Do you think it would be more difficult to write a script mocking an existing script or to write a new story from scratch?

  • Do movies that make fun of other movies risk seeming repetitive or predictable? Why, or why not?

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Movie details

For kids who love to laugh

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