Saturday, 22 April 2017

Retro Review: Wrongfully Accused (1998)

Wrongfully Accused
Cast: Leslie Nielsen, Richard Crenna, Kelly Kelly Brock, Melinda McGraw, Sandra Bernhard
Genre: Satirical Comedy
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $9 million

Plot: Ryan Harrison is framed for murder and must prove himself innocent by finding a mysterious one-eyed, one-armed, one-legged man, after escaping from a bus accident on the way to jail

'Leslie Nielsen's Career Swansong Is A Good One'

Critics always turn their noses up at these type of comedies- unless it is by Bill Murray or Woody Allen, anything that comes across as buffoonish, low-brow, appealing to the so-called lowest common denominator, 10 out of 10, they will write it off completely and slate it to death. Which is why comedies, particularly Satirical comedies, become the brunt of criticism. They just can't stand this type of humour. And yet this type of humour is also easily accessible and one the likes of myself understand and enjoy, just by getting the jokes and one-liners.

Wrongfully Accused is one of those 1990s comedies, which fit that bill precisely. It was released at a time when comedy movies were still being churned out and movie parodies was still a thing. Starring (the late) Leslie Nielsen, the humour and comedy is practically the same as in Airplane and Naked Gun, where it relies on parodying and spoofing various genre conventions, as well as other films, such as Titanic, Braveheart and Mission Impossible. This one is a Mickey take on 1993's The Fugitive, starring Harrison Ford. 

Nielson is Ryan Harrison: a famous violin player who is accused of and framed for murder. After being attacked, Harrison escapes from a van/bus and has to find the one-legged, one-armed criminal who set him up & to go out of his way to prove his innocence. 

But for the Scary Movie series, which took the genre and over-exaggerated it to the point I didn't enjoy it, I enjoy comedy spoof films and the idea of making fun of something else for entertainment, but that also in being familiar with the thing they are parodying, it makes the viewing experience even more enjoyable. Many of these spoof films rely on farce and dumbed down humour to generate laughs. You really need to be a fan of this type of humour, as silly and low-brow as it is, to fully enjoy this movie. 

The sight gags are amusing and the jokes are in full flow and fly out at the rate of one every few seconds or so. The story and plot are of little importance and to be honest, for a comedy film, you don't watch for the plot but for the sight gags, dumb foolery and silly and amusing scenes that happen. It's highly entertaining, despite the weak story and the references to other films gives it more ammunition to fire off more jokes and slapstick.

Examples of sight gags include a woman throwing the gun in the water and the water splashes onto her, as is when Leslie Nielsen's character turns off the volume on the TV, the news presenter loses her voice! There is also a Baywatch one to look out for. 

Where Wrongfully Accused comes up short against Naked Gun and Airplane is that the actual story isn't as good as it ought to have been. That and the jokes aren't as laugh out loud funny. The spoofing of the movies are a hit-&-miss altogether; some are good and some never (quite) hit the mark. 

Final Verdict:

If you are a fan of Leslie Nielsen's other movies, Naked Gun and Airplane, you will get a lot of enjoyment from this film. Same with Hot Shots. Fans of Jim Carrey and Robin Williams's brand of silly, low-brow humour will and should probably lap this one up as well.

Yes, the film is silly, the humour is the toilet-filled kind but I enjoy it because it is silly and most of all, I get the jokes, slapstick, absurd humour that goes with the territory.

Although it's not as consistently funnier than Naked Gun and Airplane, nor reaches the same heights as those efforts, Wrongfully Accused is a good, solid follow-up starring Leslie Nielsen, and no doubt it made me smile and laugh on several occasions. 

As a star of comedy spoofs and countless slapstick gags in Naked Gun, Police Squad and Airplane, Nielsen was arguably the king. 


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