"The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult"
"The Naked Gun Trilogy Disc 3"
Soundtrack Album Review Part 3
Music By Ira Newborn
La-La Land Records
36 Tracks/Disc Time: 70:37
Grade: B- (BEST OF 2014)
Back in 1980, the comedy directing and writing team of Jerry Zucker, David Zucker and Jim Abrahams were coming off the success of hilarious and underrated "Kentucky Fried Movie" working with Director John Landis until the biggest surprise happend, "Airplane!" which was released during that Summer to become one of the years' biggest hits but also one of the greatest comedies ever made according to the American Film Institute. Due to their success on the film, they pooled their resources into what would be a great reviewed and hilarious comedy series on ABC that only lasted six episodes which would feature a scene stealing Leslie Nielsen from "Airplane!". "Police Squad" was a spoof of all of those cop buddy shows that were running rampid from late 60's to early 80's which starred Nielsen as the goofy and somewhat inept Lt.Frank Drebin who with his partner (Alan North) would solve crimes all throughout Los Angeles despite how silly and bizzare they were. ABC pulled the plug as they did with many series in during that time including "Bosom Buddies" starring Tom Hanks and Peter Scorlari after two seasons, "Working Stiffs" featuring the debuts of both Michael Keaton and Jim Belushi and many other shows.After scoring some success with the hilarious WW2 spoof "Top Secret!" starring Val Kilmer, the troupe would go back to "Police Squad" to revive it as a film with Nielsen returning to reprise his now famous character.
After "The Naked Gun" was released during Christmas 1988 to a surprise blockbuster success, it was all but assured that Paramount had a potential franchise in its hands and with that, "Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell Of Fear" was spawned and released three years later during the Summer of 1991 to strong box office. Now assured of success and now a franchise, Paramount was confident with going forward with "Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult" which would be released during the Winter of 1994 and despite plenty of positive reviews (including one from me which I think this is a stronger sequel than than the second), the film wasn't quite able to match the box office numbers of the first two films and plans for a fourth film titles naturally "Naked Gun 444.4" were then put on hold. A planned reboot starring "The Hangover's" Ed Helms is now in the works with Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Granat of "Reno 911" and "A Night At The Museum" now in charge of the franchise.
This film under the direction of then newcomer Peter Segal, who would go to direct the hit films "Anger Management" with Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler and "50 First Dates also with Sandler and Drew Barrymore features the return of a now happily married former Lt. Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) now retired from Police Squad and married to Jane (Priscilla Presley) now a lawyer, while he's a bored stay at home husband. Things change when a group of terrorists led by Papshimir (Raye Birk), who was featured in the original film returning to hire Rocco (Fred Ward, "Exit Speed") a professional master criminal and bomber who with his mother and his girlfriend Tanya (the late Anna Nicole Smith) are paid to bomb the Academy Award ceremony. Drebin is approached by his former Captain Hockin (George Kennedy) to infiltrate the prison where Rocco is and join his gang to find out more about his master plan. Hilarity ensues when Drebin in a series of mishaps and disguises literally crashes the famous ceremony in order to prevent a disaster of epic proportions.
Along for this fun ride and has been since the television series is Composer Ira Newborn for the final time in this series, who scored the original “Police Squad” episodes and creating a very memorable main theme. Newborn would go on the score John Hughes’ hit films “Sixteen Candles”, “Weird Science”, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, “Planes, Trains & Automobiles and “Uncle Buck”. Newborn would re-team with The Zucker Brothers and Jim Abrahams for a reunion for “The Naked Gun” providing one of the 80’s best comedy scores as well his chance to really shine using a wonderful big band approach that would give the series its' signature sound featuring two great distinctive themes in "Drebin The Hero" and the classic "Main Title" music ("Midnight Romance/Main Title") that is pure wonderful big band that Glenn Miller would've been proud of which have been given one last memorable go around. The main title this time around is given a more sultry and fuller approach than the other two films to give it a distinctive sound and had there been a fourth film, he would've given it another variation much like the late Henry Mancini did for his "Pink Panther" scores.
The score to "Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult" is a little more broad and expansive than the original and just as suspenseful and urgent as "Naked Gun 2 1/2", but definitely keeps what made the original score so brilliant and expands upon the solid material in the sequel. Leading off is Newborn's material for Drebin's attempts to foil the plot (again!) which results in well, not so positive results at first which has Newborn ramping up action, suspense and slapstick all at the same time. Highlighted by the tracks "Mom Visits Rocco/Visit From Dr. Papshmir", "Undercover Sperm Bank", "Deciding to Go Undercover/Denver Jock Strap/The Bighouse Yard/Entering The Bighouse/Letter to Jane", "Frank’s Escape/Trucker Jane/Frank’s Escape Part 2", "Who’s The Skirt?/Let’s Bump Her Off/Rocco’s Crowning Achievement", and "Best Picture Award/It’s The Bomb/The Final Straw/Give Up Rocco/Happy Ending To Awards" which are much broader and a little more aggressive thematically that would make good suspense music for an action picture if Newborn had been given the opportunity. Newborn also does touch upon his jazz vamp material this time around for Anna Nicole Smith's character Tanya, which works to perfection in the tracks "Tanya/Do I Know You?", "Rocco & Tanya Backstage/Tanya’s Sexy Leg/Ma in Sunroof/Tanya’s Tassels", and "Tanya, Tanya, Tanya" The score ends with the audacious and rousing finale to both the score and the series with "The Delivery Room/End Credits" that reprises the main theme in a more romantic and slower vain leading up to the more uptempo big band jazz version that we're used to hearing for a fond farewell to "Police Squad".
La-La Land's latest release which features all three complete scores from the films for the first time ever after being released in a brief CD featuring music from the first two films by Varese Sarabande in 1991, but the third film never had a soundtrack released when the film was released. While this score isn't quite as good as the first two scores, but there is plenty to like here and watching Newborn really expanding his musical pallette from the very beginning of the series to its conclusion is a great thing to see and always great to hear. This set is a wonderful package of CD's that really were a long time in coming for a series of films that really are still some of the well written and feature some hilarious gags and Nielsen became a comedy legend because of it. Twenty years later, "The Naked Gun" films still hold their own with the best of them. Ira Newborn's music is still a classic and really deserves even more attention now as it did back then. Thumbs up for this score. Big thumbs up for this box set!