A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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?
- In theaters: April 13, 1991
- On DVD or streaming: August 15, 2000
- Cast: Leslie Nielsen, Priscilla Presley, George Kennedy, Robert Goulet, O.J. Simpson
- Director: David Zucker
- Studio: Warner Home Video
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 85 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sexual humor, language, comic violence and nudity
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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