Watching: Random Acts of Silliness

Stream two great Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker films.

By The Watching Team

Dear Watchers,

We know your watching time is limited. And the amount of things available to watch … is not. Looking for a movie? Nearly any movie ever made? It’s probably streaming somewhere. That’s a lot of movies.

Below, we’re recommending two of them, the latest of our weekly double-feature recommendations based on the movies we think will pair well — with each other and with you.


Your weekly double feature: Zucker Abrahams Zucker

“Nothing to see here!” Leslie Nielsen in “The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!”Paramount Pictures

‘The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!’ and ‘Top Secret!’

Masters of the “see what sticks” spoof since “Kentucky Fried Movie” and “Airplane!,” the comedy team of David and Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams (Z.A.Z. for short) never limited itself to one type of joke, or even one joke at a time. Parodies of specific movies or subgenres are merely starting points for fusillades of different gags: foreground-background jokes, physical schtick, fourth-wall-breaking, funny names and random acts of silliness.


Leaving Netflix at the end of this month, Z.A.Z.’s “The Naked Gun” expands their short-lived early ’80s TV show “Police Squad!” into an inspired feature-length riff on “Dragnet” and other strait-laced network cop shows. It’s also their best vehicle for Leslie Nielsen, whose Lt. Frank Drebin is a buffoon of unwavering confidence, prone to solving cases by literally stumbling into them. Here he breaks up a plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth II and falls in love (with Priscilla Presley), all while kicking up trouble at official events and a baseball game, where he performs the national anthem as the world-famous opera singer Enrico Pallazzo.

Z.A.Z. cultists have a special place in their hearts for “Top Secret!,” which followed their disappointing “Airplane!” sequel with an inspired, out-of-nowhere parody of World War II adventures like “The Dirty Dozen” and “The Great Escape.” In an electric debut performance, Val Kilmer stars as an American pop sensation who is brought into East Germany to headline a cultural festival but falls in with a Nazi resistance group. The film has extremely 1984-specific references to “The Blue Lagoon,” the Montgomery Ward catalog and the Ford Pinto, but most of the jokes still play. — Scott Tobias

Stream “The Naked Gun” on Netflix. Rent it on Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, Vudu and YouTube.

Rent “Top Secret!” on Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, Vudu and YouTube.


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