Lock up your lobsters and brush up on those double takes — The Naked Gun 21/2: The Smell OfFear is about to be unleashed on an unsuspecting public. Alan Morrison talks to director David Zucker and star Priscilla Presley about bad jokes, bad singing and bad environmental energy policies.
Only a film by David Zucker — one third of the Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker team who brought Airplane.’. Top Secret and Police Squad into the world — would have the childish audacity to call itself The Naked Gun 21/2. The mere inclusion of that little fraction is — like almost all ofthe jokes in this sequel to the 1989 hit — pointless. silly and. above all. proofthat this is one filmmaker who refuses to take himselfseriously. Ofcourse. there is also the film‘s subtitle to consider: The Smell Of Fear. Now. I don‘t know about you. but I can only
think ofone smell that is associated with fear. and : they can‘t mean that. can they?
Unlike the first movie. which relied heavily on a continual battery ofsight gags and juvenile one-liners. The Naked (Jun 21/2 actually has a plot ofsorts. The heads of the oil. coal and nuclear
industries have come up with a fiendish plan to
trick President Bush into following an extremely
unsound energy policy. On the eve of his advisory
speech to the President. they kidnap world energy
expert Dr Albert Meinheimer (British actor Richard Griffiths) and replace him with a double. The environmental theme is not just an excuse to be trendy or to save energy by recycling old jokes. it is a topic that Zucker. as board member of Los Angeles conservation group 'I‘ree People. claims to hold close to his heart. ‘The film is a way ofgetting some of these issues out in the open.‘ he explains. ‘Encrgy is not areal sexy subject. so this is really a kind of'I‘rojan Horse to get people talking about the 5 environment. The idea came about because I , thought that the energy policy ofPresident Bush i was more absurd than any ofour movies.' i '1 life of top American cop. Lieutenant Frank Drebin. Leslie Nielsen — well on the way to becoming king of the spoofs — returns as Drebin. and is assisted by his police buddies Captain i Hocken (Oscar-winning actor George Kennedy)
Zucker has brought together most of the original cast for the latest instalment in the accident-prone
Lesley Neilsen and Priscilla Presley starin Naked Gun 2%: The Smell of Fear
and undercover ace Nordberg (former
professional footballer with the Buffalo Bills and
the San Francisco 49ers. 0.]. Simpson).
Also ‘re-creating her famous role‘ (a little in-joke for fans of The Kentucky Fried Movie. which Zucker co-wrote) is Priscilla Presley. who as the beautiful Jane Spencer is the love of Drebin’s life. Presley made her big screen debut in the original Naked (iun and was recently seen in the Andrew Dice ('lay vehicle The Adventures Of Ford Falrlane. Iler newly found fame as a comedy actress is a far cry from her tragically-tinged character in Dallas.
‘After doing Dallas for five years. it was just time to leave.’ she says. ‘More than missing the show. I miss the people. because being with them every day. it was just like a second family. What I loved about the script for the first Naked (fun was that it was poking fun at that kind ofglamour— you know. me coming down the stairs and then falling. This is our chance to have fun with things we often take very seriously.‘
The film also includes her first public performance as a singer. albeit in the shower with a crazed gunman standing in her bathroom. She is. however. doubtful that this will see her up there rivalling her more famous ex-husband. and her description ofshooting the scene gives rise to a little repartee beween director and star.
‘At first I was very agreeable to doing it.‘ she explains. ‘but I had been practising for the wrong song (Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s t'l/Iemorles). The
day before we were supposed to film it. I was told it
was to be an entirely different song — The Way We Were — so I was a little bit in shock.’
‘So you would have been in tune for the other song‘." interrupts Zucker.
This sort ofjokey behaviour continues throughout the interview. and sometimes it is difficult to get them to talk seriously about a project that they obviously find so much fun. But
, comedy. even of the anarchic .N'aked (Jun variety.
is not as much a hit or miss affair as they would have us believe.
‘()ccasionally we‘ll change little things on the set. but most of it is scripted.‘ Zucker points out. ‘()ften we‘ll shoot a scene two or three ways and then let the audience decide at test previews. We really cut the picture to the laughs.‘
Whether or not Zucker manages to equal the success of brother Jerry's (ihost remains to be seen — check out one neat parody involving a potter‘s wheel — but it is likely that he will be back fairly soon with another chapter in the ongoing story of Frank andJane. Its title'.’ (‘urrently pencilled-in as The.\'aked(11013.“ is Just For The Reeord.
The Naked (Jun .3’ The Smell ()_l‘l‘eargoes on H'lt/(’ general release/rum [7128 June.
ON FOLLOWING PAGES: MILO & OTIS O TOO HOT TO HANDLE O NAVY SEALS
The List 281une— l 1 July 1991 25