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While not as off the wall funny as the original, THE NAKED GUN 2 ½: THE SMELL OF FEAR ($30) serves up enough big laughs to please fans. In this outing, Lt. Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) and the men of Police Squad turn up in Washington D.C., where they encounter a plot to kidnap a famous scientist, whose recommendations President Bush will be using to devise his new energy policy. Of course, the villainous Quentin Hapsburg (Robert Goulet) wants to keep the status quo by producing the same profit making, environmentally unfriendly fuels that have been around since the start of the industrial revolution. Further complicating things for Drebin, is the fact that his former fiancée Jane Spencer (Priscilla Presley) is dating Hapsburg.

THE NAKED GUN 2 ½ does feature a bit more plot than the original, which has slowed down the rapid-fire approach to the jokes, which was found in the first film. Still, the movie kept me laughing myself silly for most of its 85 minute running time. Nielsen and Presley maintain the magic their pairing had in the first film, and Robert Goulet proves to be a hoot as the film’s dastardly villain. The cast of THE NAKED GUN 2 ½ also includes George Kennedy, O.J. Simpson, Richard Griffiths, Jacqueline Brookes, Anthony James, Tim O'Connor, Peter Mark Richman, Ed Williams, John Roarke, Margery Ross and Lloyd Bochner in the film’s best throwaway gag.

Paramount Home Entertainment has done quite a good job with their DVD release of THE NAKED GUN 2 ½. Not only is the film framed close to its proper 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio, the DVD also feature the 16:9 enhancement for wide screen displays. The image on the DVD is slightly soft, which has more to do with the original cinematography and film elements, than any deficiency in the transfer. Perhaps the filmmakers were trying to photograph the actors in the most flattering manner possible. Despite the mild softness, the transfer provides good detail and solid color reproduction. The warmer hues are vibrant and recreated without any chromatic distortion or smearing. Additionally, flesh tones appear quite healthy. Blacks appear accurate and the picture provides a respectable level of shadow detail. The film element used for the transfer displays occasional blemishes and a few instances of noticeable film grain, although neither becomes obtrusive.

For this release, THE NAKED GUN 2 ½ has been given a Dolby Digital 5.1 channel remix. Since THE NAKED GUN 2 ½ was originally in Dolby Surround, this mix has a bit more to offer by way of directional sound effects, which are noticeable across the forward soundstage, as well as in the rear. Dialogue reproduction is clean and fully intelligible. Ira Newborn’s jaunty musical score gets a boost from the Dolby Digital encoding, although the enhancement isn’t as pronounced as it was in the first film (I didn’t detect any split surround usage for the music). Still, the track is very pleasant sounding, leaving me with no complaints. An English Dolby Surround soundtrack is also encoded on the disc, as are English subtitles.

The basic interactive menus provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, plus a couple of extras. Writer/director David Zucker, producer Robert K. Weiss and host Peter Tilden deliver a humorous and entertaining running audio commentary, which covers the technical aspect of the film’s production in greater detail than was offered on the commentary for the first film. If you like more information and less comedy, this track is for you. A theatrical trailer is the only other extra on the DVD.

THE NAKED GUN 2 ½ is a whole lot of fun, plus Paramount’s fine DVD presentation really delivers the goods. Fans of the trilogy can’t go wrong by picking up this great little disc.




DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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