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Laramie Movie Scope:
Spy Hard

A shotgun loaded with jokes misfires

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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May 5, 1996 -- The spy movie spoof "Spy Hard" starts off with a Bond-type theme song sung by Weird Al Yankovic. It is pretty funny until Weird Al's head explodes on the final note of the song. Yankovic himself directed the opening sequence.

The whole film is like that, a few funny jokes interspersed with unfunny, tasteless humor. Most of the humor falls flatter than Steve Forbes' flat tax pitch.

Leslie Nielsen, star of the "Naked Gun" films, plays super agent WD-40 (Dick Steele) in his usual corny manner. Andy Griffith plays the evil megalomaniac General Rancor. It is unusual casting, but Griffith seems to be having a good time as the unarmed general. The acting in the film isn't bad, but there's not much for the actors to work with.

Director Rick Friedberg and producer Leslie Nielsen are obviously trying to reproduce the success of films like the "Naked Gun" series "Hot Shots" and "Airplane." The formula looks simple enough. You just throw as many silly jokes and sight gags as you can think of up on the screen and hope that most of them work. This film demonstrates it is not that simple. If it was this film would be a lot funnier than it is.

"Airplane" was directed by David Zucker, Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams. David Zucker also directed the Naked Gun films and Abrahams directed the "Hot Shots" films. Those films were funnier because of the attention to detail. In those films there were jokes in the background and jokes within jokes. The writing and directing were tighter too. The action was fast enough to gloss over the more tasteless jokes.

In "Spy Hard" the writing is bad and the direction is worse. The story seems to come to a screeching halt every time there is a joke. When the jokes fall flat, and they often do, the temporary halt in the action gives one time to reflect on how truly awful the joke really was. The movie does not flow. Instead, it jerks slowly, aimlessly along.

There are some laughs in "Spy Hard," but not enough. It rates a D.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 1996 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)