The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear (1991)

6.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

Still some clever jokes

Step down from the previous film

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Naked Gun 2 1/2:  The Smell of Fear

Studio:  Paramount Pictures

Genre(s):  Comedy

Release Date(s):  June 28, 1991

MPAA Rating:  PG-13


All the romance of Ghost and twice the clay!

A new source of energy could change everything…but the oil barons will not let that happen.  Quentin Hapsburg (Robert Goulet) has replaced renown scientist Dr. Albert S. Meinheimer (Richard Griffiths) with his own agent and is set to stop the new source of energy from ever being revealed.  Unfortunately for him, Lieutenant Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) is on the case and he’s got the whole Police Squad behind him.  Dr. Meinheimer’s assistant is Frank’s former lover Jane Spencer (Priscilla Presley) and Frank will not only have to solve the crime, but face his past relationship in the process.

Directed by David Zucker, The Naked Gun 2 1/2:  The Smell of Fear (sometimes just called The Naked Gun 2) is the sequel to the smash comedy The Naked Gun:  From the Files of Police Squad! in 1988.  The movie was a financial success but had less favorable reviews.


Frank’s got good back-up!

I really enjoyed The Naked Gun.  It was the type of movie that was full of laughs (though easy) but also many of the laughs worked on multiple levels and rewarded the viewer.  With that in mind, The Naked Gun 2 1/2:  The Smell of Fear does follow the format of the first one, but loses a lot of the charm.

The jokes just aren’t as sharp in the sequel to The Naked Gun.  The first movie did go for easy laughs, but this movie goes for really, really easy laughs with little intelligence or audience knowledge needed.  You do get the occasional smart fun throwback jokes like the homage to the classic “To Serve Man” Twilight Zone episode during the riot at the end, but for the most part the movie feels like it is going through the motions.


Read my lips “No new jokes in the sequel”

Part of the problem could be that Leslie Nielsen played himself out after the release of The Naked Gun.  He took every spoof movie he could find regardless of the quality and it is a bit hard to watch the better spoofs like this one when you think about the bitter pill Nielsen forced you to swallow through countless horrible films.

The jokes often involve a lot of pratfalls and timed wordplay like the previous film, but it feels lazier here.  The actors and the visuals do a good job trying to make the jokes funny but it isn’t quit as solid as The Naked Gun:  From the Files of Police Squad!

The Naked Gun 2 1/2 tries a bit too hard.  Every second must be a laugh and the movie doesn’t give itself enough time to breath and be a “serious” movie for a second to make the laugh even more potent.  Despite a drop in quality, The Naked Gun 2 1/2’s success did lead to a sequel.  The Naked Gun 2 1/2:  The Smell of Fear was followed by The Naked Gun 33 1/3:  The Final Insult in 1995.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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