Lt. Frank Drebbin returns to save the day once again. This time he's out to foil the "big boys" who have embroiled his old flame in the energy business.
Lietenant Frank Drebin (Neilsen), the straight-faced, hard-boiled, self-confident, totally inept cop from The Naked Gun and its TV predecessor Police Squad!, here returns in action in this sequel to the original crowd-pleasing deadpan comedy hit.
This time around, the setting is Washington D. C., something vaguely resembling a plot (involving environmental issues and Drebin's interrupted love affair) is taking place behind the jokes and director Zucker plays upon the phenomenal success of brother Jerry's Ghost with a parody of the pottery-and-snogging highlight of that film with Nielsen and Presley here sitting in for Swayze and Moore.
One of the miracles of The Naked Gun was that it managed to preserve exactly the mix of clever and crass, stupid and inspired that characterised the TV series, and it is thus hardly surprising that the joke does not quite carry over for this third time around. Nielsen, though, is a wonder as ever, burying the memory of Repossessed with a spot-on performance here that threatens to replace Peter Sellers' Clouseau as the epitome of the stupidly dogged detective.
Whether accidentally assaulting Barbara Bush at the White House, unwittingly torturing the captive he's supposed to be rescuing, misinterpreting everything said to him, or brooding in a bar that caters exclusively to lovelorn losers, Nielsen makes the material work, ably backed up by George Kennedy and O.J. Simpson.
It is hard, however, not to notice that the original joke casting of Presley as the heroine has this time around stuck the picture with a dead weight it never quite overcomes, and that the jokes are just a little less clever, a little less thick on the ground and a little less surprising.
There is still one decent belly laugh every five minutes, but the formula may be wearing a little thin.