Apparently, the one way to tell if a movie is slapstick is if the title ends in an exclamation point. Abrahams was the third of the trio who directed Airplane!, Top Secret!, and Ruthless People. Abrahams went on to write David Zucker’s successful Naked Gun movies and then wrote and directed some more slapstick on his own. It’s really hard to tell if he or Zucker is more responsible for the good slapstick.
Hot Shots!: Top Gun parody is okay. Charlie Sheen is decent but not great at slapstick. Lloyd Bridges and Cary Elwes are a bit better at it. I didn’t remember Ryan Stiles being in these movies. This movie came out in 1991, around the time he started working on the British version of Whose Line. I also didn’t realize Jon Cryer was here as well.
Hot Shots! Part Deux: Rambo parody is a little funnier than the first movie, but still pretty uneven. A lot of the same cast from the first movie, plus Rowan Atkinson.
Airplane!: See David Zucker
Other Jim Abrahams Movies You May Have Seen
Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael
First Do No Harm
Baseketball: The creators of South Park star in this movie (not written by them) that has them pioneering a professional league based on a driveway game that combines baseball and basketball and trying to psych out your opponent by hurling insults at them. I shouldn’t like it as much as I do because there’s a lot of flat and offensive jokes (David Zucker really likes torturing hospital patients). But there’s enough that had me rolling that I enjoyed myself. Easily my favorite cameo by Bob Costas.
The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear: Not nearly as sharp or as memorable as the first movie in the series, but still with a bunch of laughs. Slapstick at its perfectly mediocre.
The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!: Brilliant slapstick starring Leslie Nielsen, playing the same obtuse character he did in the television show. Not too many wasted jokes here and a lot of memorable visuals as well. The Angels game where Nielsen manages to go undercover as the home plate umpire is classic. O.J. Simpson is pretty good in a supporting role.
Airplane!: My favorite slapstick movie, I can pretty much watch this any time. Lampooning airplane disaster movies, but also with a solid stand-alone jokes that kill me. The funniest bits come from the supporting characters such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Florence Henderson, and Leslie Nielsen. Slapstick only works if each character seems to speaking every line in earnest, and the main characters (Peter Graves, Robert Stack, Lloyd Bridges) all do their jobs perfectly.
Other David Zucker Films You May Have Seen
Scary Movie 3
Scary Movie 4
My Boss’s Daughter
An American Carol