David Zucker--of the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker creative troika behind Airplane!
and television's Police Squad!
--directed this 1988 feature film based on the latter show. Leslie Nielsen returns to his old TV role of Lt. Frank Drebin, the deadpan idiot with a detective's badge. The reinvention of the failed series as a theatrical feature seems to have inspired everyone involved to make a pretty funny movie, and the jokes gather a momentum that lasts until the final act. Ricardo Montalban is a perfect foil as a villain whose aquarium is being invaded by Drebin during routine questioning, and George Kennedy is delightful in a self-parodying part as an earnest but obtuse lawman. There's a hilarious bit when Drebin--wearing a live police wire while going to the bathroom--can be overheard over the loudspeakers at a speech given by a flustered mayor (Nancy Marchand). Yes, that's O.J. Simpson as a detective who ends up on the wrong side of numerous Drebin blunders. --Tom Keogh