Dr. Rich Edwards

Daily Dose of Doozy #15: Remixing of Classic Genres: ZAZ and Leslie Nielsen

60 posts in this topic

 

Nicholas Laham in his 2009 book, Currents of Comedy on the American Screen: How Film and Television Deliver Different Laughs for Changing Times, has entire chapter devoted to what he calls "suspense comedy" that emerged in the 1980s.  He cites this genre's roots go back to Maxwell Smart in the Get Smart TV series of the 1960s.  He says that Pink Panther and Maxwell Smart were isolated comedic characters in the 1960s and 1970s, and it wasn't until the 1980s that the "dumb cop" and "dumb spy" premise became a dominant trend in film comedy.  Laham argues that this new form of comedy emerged in response to growing awareness of government ineptitude from Vietnam, Watergate, etc.  The focus he claims was on ineptitude versus government corruption.  

 

 

 

I think there's something to Laham's argument.  Some of "The Naked Gun" comes straight out of "Dragnet," like the lab guy we see in this clip.  "Dragnet" was produced with the cooperation of the LAPD (as the show proclaimed at the end of every episode), and you could say the underlying message of the series was "We competently protect the citizens, even though the citizens don't appreciate it or even interfere."

 

Abrahams and the Zuckers and their original audience must have seen "Dragnet" on TV as kids.  By the 80's they had recognized the underlying propaganda in the original shows and were ready to make fun of it.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The ZAZ approach seems to use verbal and visual slapstick in equal amounts;  the airbag/car disaster followed by snappy dialogue about the "Get Smart" contraptions in the lab ("use your open eye") 

 

The ZAZ approach is different than the "young Frankenstein" spoof in the character of the heroes; Wilder is much more manic, Neilsen more matter-of-fact and deadpan.  The props seem to be more important in the Naked Gun clip, with the air bag causing the car to run wild, the gadgets in the lab going off unexpectedly.

 

Everything seems to go wrong for both Drebin and Clouseau.  There are many obstacles to overcome, many of their own making.  Clouseau comes across a little more "crazy" in demeanor, a little less in charge of his own self.  Drebin is modeled on the straight-faced Jack Webb character.  They are both clueless, causing havoc wherever they go, though I think Drebin is perhaps more aware of it.

 

Now I'll read all the other responses and see how much I've missed!

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was struck last night by how beautiful the cinematography and art direction of "Young Frankenstein" are (copying the lighting and set design of 30's Universal horror pictures).  "The Naked Gun" also copies the visual style of the original it parodies, but this time it's the ugly flat lighting and cheap sets of 60's TV.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Whew! Let me catch my breath for a moment. ZAZ style is a complete and total mile-a-second slapstick festival with anything and everything fair game.

 

Brooks/Wilder presented a slower paced but well crafted slapstick style homage to Hollywood's past in the form of the great Universal horror movies of the 1930's. ZAZ is making a very fast paced modern comic satire where nothing is spared the slings and arrows of nonstop gags, both verbal and physical.

 

Inspector Clouseau is usually his own victim as the physical slapstick is most often aimed at himself with him struggling to reassert his dignity. Lt Frank Drebin usually sails serenely through the chaos he sets in motion around himself though he will break the 4th wall with a quick look of oh-oh before moving on as though nothing has happened. The body double used for the most physical of his actions is shown to be a body double with what appears to be poor editing, but is actually part of the gag.

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. It's definitely a parody between the old Dragnet from the 50s and Q from the earlier James Bond. It's one gag after another with Leslie Nielsen saying zingers at a pretty fast pace. That's compared to Jack Webb and Harry Morgan more droll slow pace manner. In the original series it's was slow and deliberate in solving a crime. In Naked Gun Frank's approach is more hap hazard from the moment he tries to park his car, clueless that the car is causing havoc, walking around the door, attempting to to look in the microscope to the expression on his face looking at the lab tech. Ted's shoe was straigh out of James Bond. His gags were just as subtle as Q's when he showed his new "toys".

 

2. I found ZAZ's approach more like the Marx Brothers or the Three Stooges. It was one gag after another and over the top. The scene with the car is a good example of it. The air bags go off, puts the car in drive and ends with the car on fire going down the street. It's much like the scene we saw a couple of weeks ago with the Marx Brothers and the stateroom filling up with people. Both kept piling one gag on top of another to make it one long gag. With Young Frankenstein the pace was more subtle and slower. Unlike others of Brooks films that were produced later.

 

3. They are both bumbling detectives but the difference with Peter Sellers is that he's somewhat aware of his mistakes. For instance when he knows the pool rack over he tries to put it up right. He's also more refined but he can also be a bit of a snob. His crimes were more among the rich than the everyday person. Nielsen is more clueless noting the example above he immediately starts asking everyone who's car is it and to take names of all the witnesses. He's more of the everyman's cop like Peter Faulk was with Columbo.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1.  How would you describe ZAZ's approach to film parody or film spoofs in this scene?  Cite specific examples.  Anything goes with this crew, nothing's panned.  Just about anything under the sun is included in this film.  Go get 'em team, all in the name of the brotherhood theme, "all for one, and one for all."  They're back in the flash and ultimately ready for action.   It's a threesome, like "birds of a feather" gathered at the window located at police headquarters.  They're family; inseparable.  Like as if the message were guilded in stone, never leave your partner stranded.

 

2.  How is ZAZ's approach to spoofing similar to or different from Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder's approach in yesterday's Daily Dose?   Like Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder's attack on comedy, ZAZ's approach isn't much different, as to state of all in the name of painful humor; all in the name of cracking a joke.  "Hey, watch out for  that runaway car," that after years of abuse, gains a mind of its own and lashes out at not only its owner, but our fine city.  The laughs are outrageous. The laughter is rather contagious.  One liners are all over the place.  It is rather interesting as to state of the scientist that reinvents a handy shoe that is "kitchen ready," it has everything but the kitchen sink.  The scientist also invents cufflinks that shoot darts that knock the unaware fellow officer out.  His job is defending the little men, whereas in this scene, he appears ready to ditch his fellowman, all in the name of maintaining his badge.

 

3.  In the name of slapstick comedy, compare Peter Sellers' Inspector Clouseau with Leslie Nielsen's Frank Drebin.  They are both downright fools, all in the name of comedy.  Frank Drebin is blindsided by enemy in this scene ultimately is his car.  Like Inspector Clouseau, Drebin is your "ordinary, average Joe," who gets by in society by the mere skin of his teeth.  If it weren't for his head screwed on tight, he would lose it at the drop of a hat.  Drebin is like "the knight for a day," King Arthur, as well as "legendary buffoonery of D.F. Lawrence."    

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A little late to the board, so excuse if my reply is repetitive (also watching the full movie as I write this, so apologies if an extra gag falls in)
1. Gags, gags and more gags:  Visual (car "chases," "The Police Station), Lines ("You've got something on your face . . ."  )

 

2.  Ain't nothing subtle about ZAZ's approach.  Every frame of every scene was fair game.  I remember the original "Police Squad," (one of the few shows I actually watched during that period, (though they might have been post-season reruns), where a couple wanted to be alone, so they went out into a "Japanese Garden."  On hindsight, it might have been one of the reasons why the show only lasted one season.

 

3.  They are both so intensely sure of themselves, but while Clouseau will put his foot through the floor, Drebin will put his foot in his mouth.  That being said:  Drebin is rather like Hulot in that he digs the hole other people fall into.

 

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I forgot how much I loved the Naked Gun movies.  Leslie Nielsen was priceless -- deadpan and utterly hysterical .  So much so that I forget that he started as a "serious" actor.  When I watch some of his older films I unconsciously keep waiting for the punchline that never comes.  

 

The only thing I would take issue with in the TCM introduction is Greg Proops' assertion that Leslie Nielsen and Priscilla Presley are the  90s Nick and Nora Charles.  Priscilla Presley is drop-dead gorgeous.  No question about that.  But she is no match for the fabulous Myrna Loy.  

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. ZAZ throws everything and the kitchen sink in their gags and this scene is a great example of their approach. My favorite bit is as they walk into the lab, Ted and Ed walk through the door while Frank breaks the fourth wall and walks through the open space.

2. ZAZ's approach is similar to Brooks and Wilder but perhaps a bit more manic and self-referential. In the progression of slapstick through the ages, you see how the performers and filmmakers try to out too each other.

3. Clouseau was a more believable character than Frank Drebin, especially in the 60s films. The 70s Pink Panther films were still very funny but more gag machines than the earlier, more organic comedies. Drebin shooting at (and not recognizing) his own car was very Clouseau-like.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. How would you describe ZAZ's approach to film parody or film spoofs in this scene? Cite specific examples.

 

The dragnet style seems to be parodied and just about every gun happy action movie ever shown having a cop blasting away...

 

2. How is ZAZ's approach to spoofing similar to or different from Mel Brook and Gene Wilder's approach in yesterday's Daily Dose?

 

Less subtle, more quick, possibly even more bombastic in approach.

 

3. In the context of slapstick comedy, compare Peter Sellers' Inspector Clouseau with Leslie Nielsen's Frank Drebin.

 

Able to play straight while simultaneously fouling up procedure, and the silly way each of them conduct their police activity obliviously and ignorantly. Opposite of standard or ordinary I'd say is comparative.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. How would you describe ZAZ's approach to film parody or film spoofs in this scene? Cite specific examples.
 

Like others have posted here, ZAZ's approach is to relentlessly fire off the gags in rapid succession.  So many things happen that it's worth watching the film again to see what was missed on the first pass.  Specific examples include every time they cut back to the car another air bag has gone off inside it, and the simple scene of walking to the next room has the moment where two characters walk through the door but Frank Drebbin walks off the set and around the wall to get into the next room.

 

2. How is ZAZ's approach to spoofing similar to or different from Mel Brook and Gene Wilder's approach in yesterday's Daily Dose?
 

It's similar in they are both spoofing specific films and genres, Brooks and Wilder with Frankenstein and other Universal Monster movies of the 30's and ZAZ with Dragnet and other police TV dramas from the 60's and 70's.  Young Frankenstein had copies of specific scenes from the original movies, such as the encounter with the blind man from Bride of Frankenstein ("Fire bad..."), but I can't recall any specific scenes from Dragnet being as closely parodied.  Some of The Naked Gun's gags were parodies of general scenes that could have been from any episode of the show.  In the case of the invention description scene with the Swiss Army Shoe, this could have been Q's scene from several of the James Bond movies. 

 

3. In the context of slapstick comedy, compare Peter Sellers' Inspector Clouseau with Leslie Nielsen's Frank Drebin.

 

Both characters are inept and caught up in the insanity happening around them.  Drebin is more of a deadpan character, in tune with Joe Friday.  "Just the facts ma'am..."  Clousseau reacts more to the situations around him.  He bumbles around in the nudist colony in A Shot in the Dark, hiding himself behind a guitar but at the same time bumping into other people with it. 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This scene is robust in its number of gags. Before I delve into the parodying nature of The Naked Gun, I must cite the voice over from Detective Drebin. Upon listening to the V.O., I was reminded of the film, Double Indemnity, and the confession given (as a V.O.) by Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray.) Nonetheless, I thought it was a rather interesting connection in between film noir and slapstick comedy.

 

Now, in addressing the gags, I acquired a good amount of laughter from this scene. ZAZ seems to approach The Naked Gun in a manner of milking every line of dialogue and every physical occurrence for a gag. If there is an adequate amount of room, ZAZ will do whatever it takes to work something humorous into the scene.

 

My absolute favorite is Al (the very tall man who seems somewhat interested in eating a banana.) ZAZ uses Al's height to maximum effect by simply not allowing his head into the frame. This hilarious bit is quickly followed by him being informed of having something on the side of his mouth. It turns to be a very large chunk of banana, which falls to the counter with a thud. Typically, filmmakers would adjust the blocking and cameras for this shot, but not ZAZ. Al's gags made for great decisions, as they provided additional humor to the scene which didn't directly involve the main character.

 

The comparable/differing argument is a definite teetering conversation. While Brooks and Wilder pay specific attention to one film and its idea, The Naked Gun borrows from numerous television shows, yet both films are rooted in a particular notion. Therefore, the nature of the comedic approach with both films is comparable, as they implement parodying films/tv shows of the past.

 

Drebin and Clouseau are by far two of the clumsiest, clunkiest, most ridiculous examples of detectives/inspectors to ever grace the big screen. However, they both make for terrific examples in defining great comedic entertainment (Clouseau especially.) Their gags are framed around toppling the premise of detectives, investigations, and following proper protocol in an effective manner.

 

Clouseau seems to directly clash with his surroundings (pool cue stand incident, slamming into a wall upon his exiting), Drebin, on the other hand, is the blatant cause and effect in his own gags. He's absent-minded in his everyday dealings (doesn't put the car in park, followed by lack of realization that it's his runaway car and he's the cause, with the grand finale being he believes there's a "suspect" behind the wheel.) This level of lack of is terribly difficult to comprehend. Clouseau and Drebin are undeniably the definitive in how one should not conduct an investigation, and let's be honest here, they shouldn't even be detectives/investigators. And all of the aforementioned reasons are exactly why they're perfect for such a comedic film narrative. Unlikely heroes creating the unlikeliest situations equating to utter nonsense. A must watch indeed!

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Clouseau’s persona is original and not intended to spoof other detective characters.   Drebin’s persona drifts between a Joe Friday, James Bond, Marlowe, and a bit of Dirty Harry style detective/crime solver as captured in the film clip (e.g. “Ted” the “Q” equivalent in the crimes lab and get a sampling of his latest inventions, the  classical “you’ve got 24 hours” to clear your partner even though all the evidence is stacked against him, the opening scene in which Drebin blows up his own car).

As with Brooks and Wilder in Young Frankenstein, ZAZ employs the technique of recombining old genres/calling to mind classical characters and building in carefully timed physical comedy, play on words, and memorable one liners. We see elements of classic (three stooges/Marx brothers like) gags and  brawls in both films and each set of directors also push the envelope by  injecting  a fair amount of  potty, ethnic, and sexual humor.

Drebin is somewhat less inept than Clouseau,  but equally as clumsy and as apt to set off a chain of disasters. He seems less confounded by his mistakes than Clouseau but is similarly convinced of his own intelligence.  Drebin uses more detective “rhetoric” and is more proactive in solving his cases and employs more high tech “gadgets” . Like Clouseau he makes use of disguises.  He is also more apt to take on criminals/terrorists directly; setting traps for them and initiating fist fights.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

     The approach David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker (ZAZ) take to film parody and spoofs, in this clip from “The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad” (1988), is to create the humor primarily from visual gags that are juxtaposed with Frank Drebin’s (Leslie Nielsen) deadpan narration, dialogue and performance.   The “Joe Friday” narrative approach and acting style, along with the setting, creates the feel of the “Dragnet“ style of police procedural show that ZAZ are parodying.  The logical disconnect between the action and Drebin’s reaction to it heightens the humor.  If one only listens to his narration and dialogue while ignoring all that is going on around him (a tall order, indeed), there is no humor in his presentation -- all the humor comes from the context and his disconnection with it.   Frank arrives at headquarters and parks in his usual fashion (by crashing into something, as he always did on the 1982 TV show, “Police Squad”).  When the car’s air bags put it into drive, the car almost runs Frank over.  He reacts by pulling his gun, shooting the car and asking if anyone saw the driver.  The scene is one of total chaos, but Frank reacts stoically; he causes the chaos, but he isn’t involved in it.  The only hint of humor in his performance is when he gives the camera a look that indicates he just realized it was his car.  The action moves inside as he meets with his captain, Ed Hocken (George Kennedy), to discuss the case.   One of the “lab boys,” Ted Olsen (Ed Williams) interrupts them to show off some new stuff.  This part of the scene acts as a parody of “James Bond” (and homage to “Get Smart!”) and creates more gag opportunities with the Swiss Army Shoe and Tranquilizer Dart Cufflinks.  Tall Al (Tiny Ron) comes in (in another callback to “Police Squad”) eating a banana -- he is so tall that we never see his head.  Frank tells him he has something on the corner of his mouth. It is a half of a banana.  The gags are constant, and Frank’s reaction is consistently dispassionate and unaffected.

 

     The ZAZ approach to spoofing is different from that of Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder.  While Brooks and Wilder approached their parody by blending elements of both subtle and broad humor in a loving tribute to their specific subject (in “Young Frankenstein” (1974)), ZAZ used an unending stream of broad visual and verbal humor, overlain with the deadpan performance of Leslie Nielsen, to lampoon the entire category of TV police procedurals. The intellectual depth of “Young Frankenstein” is greater than that of “Naked Gun.”  Because the parody in YF is narrowly focused on the content of three films (and is more subtle), greater knowledge of those films is required to fully realize the humor.  With NG, a general knowledge of the “Dragnet” style is sufficient to get the parody, and the humor is so broad as to be self-explanatory.

     Jacques Clouseau and Frank Drebin are both detectives who take their jobs seriously and have a great deal of pride in their relative positions.  For both, their sense of self-worth is built on being a detective.  Unfortunately, neither one is a good detective in terms of procedure, though they both have an uncanny ability to stumble onto the solution of a case, in the end.  If Frank Drebin is a caricature of Joe Friday, Jacques Clouseau is more like Hercule Poirot.  Drebin is a more “working class” character, while Clouseau is a bit of a snob.  His snobbishness makes Clouseau more self-aware and self-conscious of his mistakes.  When he makes a mistake, his pride will not let him admit it, and his attempts to cover it up make matters worse (as demonstrated by the “cue rack” mishap).  If Clouseau is a “self-conscious klutz,” Drebin is an “oblivious force of nature.”  Drebin seldom realizes he has made a mistake; he is blissfully unaware of the chaos that he creates around him (as demonstrated by his parking skills).  While Clouseau is often involved in the chaos he creates, Drebin is a “catalyst for chaos.”  His presence facilitates the chaos, yet he is (usually) not involved in it.           

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ZAZ's approach reminds me of a three ring circus- so much going on, where should I focus?  The car gag...one air bag goes off and releases the gear lever and it becomes a runaway car to the point 4 air bags pop open and seems to drive itself making a right turn and no one in pursuit.  The screaming voices on the soundtrack add to the visual mayhem.  Later, after the anti-graffitti wall demonstration (which was priceless) Drebin looks into the microscope until he's told to use the open eye.  We hear the professor explaining about fibers and yet we're watching Drebin lower the microscope lens until the lens part breaks the slide.  Again, there is so much visual and audio going on and yet we know it's part of the humor that ZAZ is going to give us in 90 minutes.

 

I would have to say they are different.  Mel Brooks uses a more "traditional" set up to get to the gag.  ZAZ is setting up so many things that there are gags within gags to get to the payoff.  Overlapping visuals mixed with audio and it pays off.

 

Inspector Clouseau is a tad suave, sophisticated and buffoonish.  He tries to hide his bumbling by acting if what he has broken or destroyed is part of his regular routine.  Frank Drebin, on the other hand reacts as if he knows something is wrong, but he acts innocent and if to say he wasn't responsible for whatever is broken or destroyed.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. How would you describe ZAZ's approach to film parody or film spoofs in this scene? Cite specific examples.

 

Violent, physical, continuous. The Michael Bey of comedy. Destruction on an epic scale, the car careening out of control, the exploding gas tank, fire, the hit hydrant, water gushing up like a geyser, people diving, screaming, running till the car is out of the scene. And Drebin perpetually clueless that it is his own car.

 

2. How is ZAZ's approach to spoofing similar to or different from Mel Brook and Gene Wilder's approach in yesterday's Daily Dose?

 

In this clip the comic approach is more reminiscent of Stanley Kramer's, "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World," since the gag is anything but subtle spoofing. The humor is mostly violent and physical whereas Brooks' and Wilder's humor is mostly verbal, artful.

 

3. In the context of slapstick comedy, compare Peter Sellers' Inspector Clouseau with Leslie Nielsen's Frank Drebin.

 

They are very similar. Both leave a trail of destruction in their wakes. Both see themselves as intelligent, competent and clever, able to outwit any and all criminals despite the circumstances. Drebin and Clouseau bumble along but somehow despite their many comical missteps and failed logic they both manage to catch the bad guy and save the day.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The previous comments have covered a lot of ground but I also see some other influences beyond those of previous movies and TV shows. I see some influence from the Warner Bros. cartoons, particularly some of the most surreal ones and also Mad magazines parodies of comic books, movies and TV shows. In some of the MAD magazine stuff there is stuff going on in both the foreground and background of the cartoon panels, just like in the ZAZ movies. The whole ZAZ approach is to almost wear you out with an onslaught of gags with action and gags often taking place all over the film frame and not just where you would be expected to focus. The idea seems to be that if you throw enough bits into a scene at least some of what is seen will make someone in the audience laugh. I may be laughing at what's going on in the foreground while you are laughing at the stuff happening in the background. Overwhelm the audience with gags. Subtlety is not an element here as it is in the films of a Woody Allen.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. How would you describe ZAZ's approach to film parody or film spoofs in this scene? Cite specific examples.

 

With very few exceptions, one scene after another is a new gag with little or no set-up.everything that Neilsen does is a parody of the straight-laced detectives (especially Sgt Joe Friday). Neilsen is forever hitting other cars, garbage pails, or other obstacles. When his own car "attacks" him, he shoots and blows it up. The crime lab becomes a spoof of James Bond and Q. The gags, verbal and physical, just keep coming and coming.

 

 

2. How is ZAZ's approach to spoofing similar to or different from Mel Brook and Gene Wilder's approach in yesterday's Daily Dose?

 

I believe that ZAZ is very different from Brooks and Wilder. The comedy and slapstick in Airplane or The Naked Gunis driven by characters themselves who are spoofs, parodies, or stereotypes. Neilsen in TNG and Hayes in Airplane are spoofs of their movie counterparts. The supporting cast members are also flaky, so the interaction between actors drives the action and creates the comedy. With Brooks and Wilder, the characters are fairly "normal" but are placed in odd situations through the progression of the plot. As funny as it may seem, even Peter Boyle is fairly normal as witnessed in the scene with Gene Hackman and the little girl.

 

3. In the context of slapstick comedy, compare Peter Sellers' Inspector Clouseau with Leslie Nielsen's Frank Drebin.

 

I would say that Neilsen's Drebin might be a homage or parody of Clouseau. I believe the main difference is that Clouseau is bumbling and clumsy, so the vast majority of his slapstick is physical. Drebin is just plain clueless and inept, and a majority of the slapstick is verbal or based or sight gags. The physical comedy is so far out that it has to be make-believe (the opening scene, fondling the statues, diving on Queen Elizabeth). Clouseau is also make-believe, but it has more realism (falling off the couch, fighting Kato, falling into a pool).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  1. With ZAZ's approach to film comedy, you could almost watch this scene in cartoon version and still have the serious quality of the jokes set throughout the scene.  The nuances of some of the scenes, like those that make you say something like, "Woah, why did he walk around the wall and not through the door?" or that personalize some of the acts, like mistaking your car for a runaway driver, make for an inherently funny film.  With this, hugg, flashy comedy scenes are needless, but probably welcomed.     
  2. While watching this Daily Dose, many of the comedic bits closely resembled that of Brooks/Wilder, in that I could picture the two films exchanging scenes (while fitting it to each respective movie) and the flow of comedy would never seem to vary.  Both sets of creators incorporated a sense of seamless 'normal-ness' to each particular comedic bit, a quality that somehow takes the hilarity of each bit and fits it appropriately to the circumstance the characters are in while not seeming too outlandish or random, even to the audience.  But, that applies to all comedy films/shows/etc., (especially those that parody or spoof) in that the characters in these situations don't necessarily see the strangeness of the occurrences that we see, as the audience.
  3. The two characters of Drebin and Clouseau resemble one another in that they both seem unqualified for their jobs.  In the Daily Dose, it even mentions that "Drebin is probably the most bumbling film detective since . . . Clouseau."  Both have many clumsy, foolish, and downright simple moments, while still giving us a deadpan seriousness in respect to their characters and their situations.

(P.S.  I recognized Nielson from this famous scene: "Don't Call Me Shirley")

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The short clip exemplifies how the movie parodies police/investigation genre. The first thing we see is Leslie Nielsen arriving the station by parking his car the worst way possible. Justa  few moments later, the clumsy inspector is unable to watch on the microscope, in one more clear demonstration of how the movie is constantly spoofing with another genre. In that way, I can say that the whole movie is a succession of spoofs on a exaggerated way, making it a true parody.

 

It seems to me that yesterday's Daily of Dose had more respect to the original reference. The movie was shot in black-and-white, used real sets and so on. So we had a homage to Frankenstein with lots of gag scenes on it. ZAZ's approach on this case is much more cynical, exaggerated, based on visual gags. Text doesn't have the interest to be faithful to another movie. So today's clip doesn't concerns so much to be a homage to anything. It's more free to construct the situations.

 

Inspector Clouseau still has the make-believe characteristic to make audience believe that all those situations, although exaggerated, are plausible real. Frank Drebin jokes a lot with that concept, and we see that clearly right on the beginning of the clip with the parking car sequence: air-bags couldn't be like that, neither the explosion and so on. Probably because of the parody aspect, Leslie Nielsen's character permits himself to go over the edge of what's beliavable or not.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This clip from Naked Gun starts as a parody to Dragnet, with Nielsen narrating like Sgt. Joe Friday. It then switches to spoof as Nielsen jumps out of the way of his car coming toward him, fires on it, and asks people if anyone caught the license plate; a light humored and senseless scene - funny all the way. It continues the spoof in the lab with the Swiss Army Shoe, reminding me of the shoe with knife in From Russia With Love.  The roll of his eyes when he says he has to go inside the building, reminded me of Igor in Young Frankstein, which brings us to Wilder.

 

I consider Brooks and Wilder's approach to slapstick as slapstick, with the character taking prat falls, fast talking (or not) and getting into unbelievable situations.  ZAZ's approach combine a few of their approaches, with Drebin walking past the wall on the way to the Laboratory without going through the door, but I see ZAZ's parody more similar to Stanley Kramer's It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (I almost forgot a Mad).

 

Drebin is a bumbling detective in trouble with his boss, just like Clouseau.  Peter Sellers is more flexible in his physical activities and violence and doesn't skip a beat.  Leslie Nielsen, while a good slapstick comedian, is a bit more reserved in his falls and physical activities.  Plus, Sellers uses that hysterical french accent.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This clip from Naked Gun starts as a parody to Dragnet, with Nielsen narrating like Sgt. Joe Friday. It then switches to spoof as Nielsen jumps out of the way of his car coming toward him, fires on it, and asks people if anyone caught the license plate; a light humored and senseless scene - funny all the way. It continues the spoof in the lab with the Swiss Army Shoe, reminding me of the shoe with knife in From Russia With Love.  The roll of his eyes when he says he has to go inside the building, reminded me of Igor in Young Frankstein, which brings us to Wilder.

 

I consider Brooks and Wilder's approach to slapstick as slapstick, with the character taking prat falls, fast talking (or not) and getting into unbelievable situations.  ZAZ's approach combine a few of their approaches, with Drebin walking past the wall on the way to the Laboratory without going through the door, but I see ZAZ's parody more similar to Stanley Kramer's It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (I almost forgot a Mad).

 

Drebin is a bumbling detective in trouble with his boss, just like Clouseau.  Peter Sellers is more flexible in his physical activities and violence and doesn't skip a beat.  Leslie Nielsen, while a good slapstick comedian, is a bit more reserved in his falls and physical activities.  Plus, Sellers uses that hysterical french accent.

 

Dare I say it?! This difference in physical comedy between Peter Sellers and Leslie Nielsen may have more to do with the differences in their ages. It's hard to take a pratfall as one gets older!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Questions:

1. How would you describe ZAZ's approach to film parody or film spoofs in this scene? 

ZAZ spoofs Dragnet with Nielsen doing Jack Webb-style narration to open the scene, then pays homage to Edwards' Inspector Clouseau by having Nielsen running over the trash cans and then moves totally into spoofing with the multiple-inflating air bags (which didn't exist at the time period) and having the car drive down the road, hit a fire extinguisher, blow up and then execute a right hand turn. Drebin continued to ask questions about the car until he realizes it was his and then excuses himself from the scene. ZAZ does indeed parody and spoof the police genre by putting slapstick humor at a breakneck speed into the beginning of the clip.

 

2. How is ZAZ's approach to spoofing similar to or different from Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder's approach in yesterday's Daily Dose?

Wilder and Brooks stated that they worked well together due to Wilder doing a micro-approach and Brooks doing a macro approach to the writing of Young Frankenstein. YF seemed not to be a spoof or even a parody but more of a homage, whereas ZAZ uses any and all jokes in bringing in other genres to mix with the police procedural spoofing/parody, but seems to be more slapstick in its humor rather than YF. 

 

3. In the context of slapstick comedy, compare Peter Sellers' Inspector Clouseau with Leslie Nielsen's Frank Drebin.

In both characters, two inept policeman seem to have risen to the rank of inspector/detective due to luck rather than any real skill. Those around both Drebin and Clouseau, particular their immediate supervisors, also seem to suffer the misfortune of the bumbling behaviors. They both get the girl and have assistants also seem to suffer violent misfortunes to their bosses bumbling styles. Clouseau seems to be more a caricature than Drebin.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ZAZ does indeed parody and spoof the police genre by putting slapstick humor at a breakneck speed into the beginning of the clip. It starts right up with near miss, hitting garbage cans, over-sized airbags, car rolling, nearly hitting him, his catching car on fire with his gun shots, car hitting fire hydrant and finally car getting away driverless and on fire. Slam Blam from start to finish. Very slapstick.

 

ZAZ's approach and the team of Wilder & Brooks approach are similar in they are both spoofing specific films and genres, Brooks and Wilder with Frankenstein and other Universal Monster movies of the 30's and ZAZ with Dragnet and other police TV dramas from the 60's and 70's. Other than that they see and use comedy and slapstick differtly.

 

Drebin played by Nielsen and Clouseau played by Sellers are very much comedy partners. They are both bumkins that somehow despite their many comical missteps, and lack of real logic or police skill, manage to catch the bad guy and save the day. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How would you describe ZAZ's approach to film parody or film spoofs in this scene? Cite specific examples.

 

When the car went off down the road, the police were just standing there. That was a spoof of the series that showed inept cops. The scene with the scientist and his gadgets reminded me of spoofs of James Bond. The shoe bit was like Maxwell Smart and Control. I liked the Swiss Army knife joke. I really liked the wall spraying the taggers with paint (what goes around comes around).

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

New Members:

Register Here

Learn more about the new message boards:

FAQ

Having problems?

Contact Us