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Paramount Studios presents
"'You might end up dead' is my middle name."
DVD ReviewThe Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult (1994) was the third and (so far) final film in the popular series that grew out of the Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker Police Squad! television series starring Leslie Nielsen. This episode features the return of Papschmir (Raye Birk) from the first film, who hires Rocco Dillon (Fred Ward) to bomb the Academy Awards ceremony. Lieutenant Frank Drebin (Nielsen), forced out of retirement, must track him down while coping with a separation from wife Jane (Priscilla Presley) and the advances of Tanya Peters (Anna Nicole Smith.)
Of course, as with the other ZAZ films from Kentucky Fried Movie and Airplane! on, the plot is really just an excuse to pile on the puns, sight gags and non-sequiturs. These films have succeeded in large part because the jokes fly fast and furious—if one gag falls flat, it barely has time to register as a dud before another one steps up to try its luck. This one seems a little tired, as though constructed from recycled bits cut from the earlier Naked Gun scripts. But there are some wonderful set pieces, particularly an opening that parodies Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin and a disco flashback that drags out the clichés and makes them work overtime. The humor depends rather heavily on sexual themes, and it's more topical than usual, dating the film to some degree. It's also an odd, bittersweet "time-warp" experience to see O.J. Simpson (as Drebin's fellow cop Nordberg) when he was still a respected celebrity.
Leslie Nielsen's comic timing and mock-serious delivery are in fine form here (his more recent vehicles like Mr. Magoo pale in comparison) and the talented cast plays the most outlandish material completely straight in the time-honored ZAZ style. But there's a bit of a "going through the motions" feel to this third Naked Gun entry; the DVD commentary track implies that Nielsen, co-star George Kennedy (ill during shooting) and the production team were all tiring of the concept, and that weariness shows through here and there. Nevertheless, Naked Gun 33 1/3 is a fitting conclusion to the series, a fun film with a number of laugh-out-loud-in-spite-of-yourself gags, and its brief 82-minute running time passes quickly.
(Since Paramount has released all three Naked Gun films on DVD simultaneously, you may want to look at our dOc reviews of the other two—Justin's The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! and Mark's The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear.)
Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B-
Image Transfer Review: Paramount presents Naked Gun 33 1/3 in its original 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio with a fine anamorphic transfer. Colors are bright (slightly oversaturated for a cartoonish look) with fine detail and deep black level. The source print is clean, the digital transfer is superb and I can't imagine this 1994 comedy looking better than it does here.
Image Transfer Grade: A
Audio Transfer Review: The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult features a Dolby Digital 5.1 English soundtrack as well as English and French DD 2.0 Surround tracks. The 5.1 mix uses split surround effects on rare occasions, with the audio generally dominated by centered dialogue, some panning sound effects and an enveloping presentation of Ira Newborn's bombastic, hilariously overwrought score. There's a bit of LFE-level bass, but the audio is generally simple and straightforward. The 2.0 surround tracks are slightly less crisp, but both versions are cleanly mastered and support the visuals well.
Audio Transfer Grade: A
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 17 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by David Zucker, Robert Weiss, Peter Segal, Michael Ewing
Extras Review: Paramount supports Naked Gun 33 1/3 with simple but appropriate menus, 17 picture-menu chapter stops, and a few worthwhile supplements:
As with the other Naked Gun DVD releases, a group commentary track is provided, this time featuring producers David Zucker and Robert Weiss, director Peter Segal, and associate producer Michael Ewing. It's an entertaining track, with some insight into the production process, and it points out a few gags likely to be missed on a first viewing. The group occasionally becomes quiet, and one gets the impression that the filmmakers aren't particularly proud of some sequences in the film, but it's a valuable addition.
The theatrical trailer is presented in a fine anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer with Dolby Digital 2.0 surround audio; it's entertaining, but it gives away too many of the gags, so watch it AFTER the main attraction.
Extras Grade: C+
Final CommentsThe Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult is a fitting end (for the time being) to this joke-a-minute series, perhaps the last of the old-style ZAZ films. It may not be to everyone's taste, but I dare anyone with a sense of humor not to chortle at SOMETHING here. Paramount's DVD is a class act, with an excellent transfer and a fun commentary track—recommended.
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