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Saturday, 13 January 2018

Retro Review: Spy Hard (1996)

Spy Hard
Cast: Leslie Nielsen, Nicollette Sheridan, Charles Durning, Marcia Gay Harden, Barry Bostwick, Andy Griffith 
Genre: Spy Comedy Parody
U.S Box Office Gross: over $26 million

Plot: Bumbling secret agent Dick Steele is summoned out of retirement to stop mastermind General Rancor from destroying the planet

'Spy Hard Tries Too Hard & Yet Comes Up Short'

Being a fan of Leslie Nielsen's brand of humour, Spy Hard was a film I truly wanted to love and enjoy as much as the Zucker bros. offerings in Airplane! and The Naked Gun. And yet, unfortunately, it fell well below short of what I'd anticipated and the level of enthusiasm and hope that I had felt towards it as I watched it, pretty much evaporated as I realised it just wasn't all that it is cracked up to be as a typical comedy slapstick farce. Nielsen is the king of lampoon comedies that no other comedic actor has come close to, matched or rivalled him in the stakes. Yet Spy Hard is not one of his absolute best and funniest offerings. 

Spy Hard is a spoof of sorts to James Bond and other Spy movies such True Lies, Mission: Impossible, but it also features spoofing of gags from other action movies like Speed and other films like In The Line of Duty. Leslie Nielsen is super agent Dick Steele who battles with enemy, General Rancor to stop them from blowing up/destroying his (deceased) girlfriend's daughter. Along the way, he teams up with a Russian spy and Dick and she also share a love scene together. 

It starts off promisingly well with an amusing and hilarious opening theme song by Weird Al Yankovic as he mockingly sings the James Bond - style theme song with really stupid and funny lyrics. Which incidentally enough was written by the composer who co-wrote the 007 Bond theme, For Your Eyes Only. But as the film went on, the barrages of puns, sight gags and spoof scenes wore thin, the laughs were lessened, and it wasn't long that Spy Hard ran out of steam. It just wasn't funny as much, and when it tries to be humourous most of the gags fail to hit the target. So much so I was bored by them, instead of laughing at them. Some of the jokes work, and the humour ranges from moderately to sparsely amusing, but this is nowhere on the level and scale of Airplane! and the first Naked Gun, whereby the humour was a lot more rapid and the comedy was way superior and I actually prefer Wrongfully Accused to this one as well. I usually enjoy Leslie Nielsen's movies with his usual deadpan delivery, yet Spy Hard felt off and all around, it was a disappointment.

Barry Bostwick's voice as his character annoyed me, fans of The Nutty Professor movies will recognise John Ales as Kabul. The boy Mason Gable was who in Dennis The Menace plays the Kevin type character of Home Alone. There are a few other recognisable faces in Charles Durning of Tootsie and Marcia Gay Harden, who later went on to appear in Flubber and Mona Lisa Smile

There are a few spoofing of movies in Speed, Home Alone, Sister Act but other than that, as much as it tries to be funny, I'd say about 40-50% they got it right. The humour wasn't good enough. Yet I did get a bit of chuckle during the Home Alone skit when the bad guys got hold of the kid and beat him up and they say stuff like, ''this is for Home Alone 2!, this is for Getting Even With Dad!''. I know some people didn't feel it made them smile, but it did for me at least. & seeing Hulk Hogan show up and an actress playing his mother and beating the hell out of the bad guy was funny. 

But for those few moments, this should have been side-splittingly hilarious. Spy Hard is less polished than The Naked Gun with the plot that is conceived in a less inventive and comical fashion than that of the former and 1998's Wrongfully Accused

Final Verdict:

An uneven spy spoof with the inconsistent jokes and comedy that fail to garner more than a chuckle or two, it's a comedy that eventually loses its way and doesn't have much going for it. It's a film that isn't loaded with laughs, but rather the laughs and comedy are scattered and so very few & they weren't so good. The cast, especially Leslie Nielsen, is wasted on a script that doesn't do justice to bringing their comedic talents. 

This is along the same lines as the terrible Scary Movie sequels, Date Movie and all the other low-par comedy spoofs of the 2000s and beyond. 

Spy Hard is forgettable, I'd be sticking with The Naked Gun and Wrongfully Accused instead.


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