DirectorDavid Zucker, Peter Segal
Release Date(s)1988/1991/1994 (June 20, 2017)
- Film/Program Grade: See Below
- Video Grade: See Below
- Audio Grade: See Below
- Extras Grade: D
- Overall Grade: C-
Roger Ebert once said of The Naked Gun ”Quite frankly, I don’t believe this film either requires or even makes possible a serious review. It is a completely dizzy, crazy, wacko, goofy, irreverent satire on police thrillers, and all I can tell you is I laughed out loud a lot, that’s the review.” Filled with non sequiturs, one liners, sight gags, both high brow and low brow humor, and even physical comedy, The Naked Gun series, as well as the original Police Squad! TV series, is an enjoyable slice of categorically grade school humor for adults – and justifiably, unsuitable for critical scrutiny.
What’s always been one of The Naked Gun series’ most admirable qualities is that each of its three films are eminently rewatchable. Because of the Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker style of comedy, there’s a chance that you might not always get a joke the first time through, or you might be laughing so hard that you miss others. It’s part of the reason why these movies are so much fun to revisit. And it should go without saying, but without Leslie Nielsen, these films wouldn’t have been half as entertaining as they are. His straight man to the absurdity around him is why the comedy works. It was a simpler time when films like these were surprisingly grounded and simpler in their approach – with characters that we actually liked. It’s part and parcel as to why The Naked Gun has continued popularity, even into high definition...
... which is why it’s so disappointing when it comes to owning The Naked Gun Trilogy on Blu-ray. If you’ve bought the films on Blu-ray already, you’re essentially paying for the same discs again. Each of them contains dated transfers with varying qualities that range from pretty good to good to just plain not good. The original Naked Gun actually fares best by comparison, carrying an obvious grain structure with good textures. Color reproduction is quite ideal as well, although nothing ever quite pops. Black levels are mostly deep while brightness and contrast are satisfactory. There’s also no major film damage leftover other than some mild speckling. Naked Gun 2 1/2 is the worst of the lot. It features minimal grain with decent detailing, the latter of which is a little better in close-ups. Colors are merely ok while the blacks are crushed. Overall brightness and contrast could also see some improvement. It’s also a slightly unstable presentation but is mostly clean other than an occasional line or scratch. Naked Gun 33 1/3 lies somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. Even less grain is present as it appears to have been a little excessively digitally scrubbed, but textures and detail can be strong at times, even behind the haze. Color reproduction is the best of the three films by far with nice skin tones and decent black levels. Brightness and contrast are also superior, and the overall presentation is quite clean. All three are watchable to varying degrees, but are definitely in need of fresh transfers.
As for the audio, a multitude of options are available for each film. For The Naked Gun, there’s an English 5.1 DTS-HD track; French and Portuguese 1.0 Dolby Digital tracks; and a Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital track. The 5.1 track is pretty spacious and opens things up but is never that enveloping. Dialogue is clean and clear and the sound effects are mostly decent, though sometimes lack a punch. However, the score and the music selection benefits the most in terms of clarity. Both The Naked Gun 2 1/2 and 33 1/3 offer soundtrack options in English 5.1 DTS-HD; German, Spanish, French, Italian, and Japanese 2.0 Dolby Digital; and Spanish & Portuguese 1.0 Dolby Digital. In both films, dialogue is sometimes mixed a little too low and the score and sound effects are mostly in the rear speakers. Again, no amazing surround or speaker-to-speaker activity (outside of the title sequence), but it’s characteristically strong most of the time. Subtitle options include English SDH, as well as an array of others.
The only extras included are carried over from the DVD release of the first film, which includes an audio commentary with David Zucker, Robert Weiss, and Peter Tilden, as well as the film’s theatrical trailer. Missing from the second film’s DVD release is the teaser and theatrical trailers, as well as another commentary from Zucker, Weiss, and Tilden. Missing from the third film’s DVD release is the theatrical trailer and a commentary from Zucker, Weiss, Peter Segal, and Michael Ewing. An early video trailer for the film when it was still under the title The Naked Gun 3: The Final Insult is also missing, as well as additional stereo soundtrack options for all three films.
THE NAKED GUN (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO/EXTRAS): B+/B+/B+/D+
THE NAKED GUN 2 1/2 (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO/EXTRAS): B+/C-/B+/F
THE NAKED GUN 33 1/3 (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO/EXTRAS): B+/B-/B+/F
The best thing about this new Blu-ray set is that it collects all of the films together in one place at a fraction of the cost when sold separately. However, the lack of extras not carried over, plus not adding anything new or bothering to do new transfers, means that you’ll have to hang onto your DVDs if you want everything. It’s a shame too because The Naked Gun series deserves much better, as does the original Police Squad! TV show. One hopes that somewhere down the road, the series will get superior treatment, because this isn’t it.
- Tim Salmons