General Rancor is threatening to destroy the world with a missile he is hiding at his secret base. But to complete his goal, he needs a special computer chip, invented by the scientist Prof. Ukrinsky. Special Agent Dick Steele is assigned to the case, in order to prevent the worst.
Ever since Airplane! redirected Leslie Nielsens career the way of face-pulling, fart gags and sending up any and every genre going, hes been near tireless as the torch-bearer of all hings lampoon. However, the spoof-movie genre is now looking weak, unoriginal and very tired indeed. Spy Hard repeats the send-up of secret agent/ action films, but like Spies Like Us before it, a great idea runs rapidly out of steam rapidly, in this case, being way before the half-hour mark.
Promising early signs engender false hope. The film begins with a cleverly written, faultlessly performed and downright hilarious theme song from Weird Al Yankovic, a mocking celebration of the overblown James Bond tradition. Then comes Nielsen thwarting the megalomaniacal designs of the evil General Rancor (Andy Griffith) as Dick Steele Agent WD-40, and delivering knowing digs at Cliffhanger and In The Line Of Fire.
From there, though, its downhill fast with no brakes and a tail wind. The usual barrage of pun, sight gag and spoofery misses far more than hits, and although material such as True Lies, Speed and Pulp Fiction is familiar, only a couple of these parodies feature any real invention.
And the low scoring rate is borne out by the cast. Knots Landing regular Sheridan is surprisingly effective, curling her tongue around a preposterous Russian accent, but Nielsen merely mugs his way through a string of weary jokes, and Durnings camouflage-obsessed Secret Service Director falls very flat indeed.
Ultimately, Spy Hard emerges as one of those annoying films from which all the best bits have been crammed into the trailer in an effort to make it seem far funnier than it actually is.
Sporadically funny, but never more than a sting of crude gags.