Sunday, April 09, 2006

Unfunny Thoughts

"Leslie Nielson is NOT funny," I said to no one in particular after seeing a boxed set of his comedy films entitled The Laugh Or I'll Shoot Collection advertised in a Meijer sales flyer that arrived outside the door of my apartment today. I was speaking to "no one in particular" because I was alone in my apartment except for my cat, whose only response was to meow her usual annoying unreasonable request for food and water.
"Shut up!" I yelled, hurling a copy of Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 at her head. (Paperback, of course. I don't want to hurt her.) "Didn't I feed you last week?" She hissed and ran away to cower in a closet.
Now, where was I?
Oh, yeah. Leslie Nielson isn't funny. I've said that a million times, usually whenever one of his films pops on TV and usually to "no one in particular," but never in print and I didn't want two days in a row to go by without updating The Word, even though I was up until three a.m. last night playing poker, so I'm sharing that judgment now with the entire world.
It may be hard to remember now, but up until Airplane!, Nielson was known as a "serious" actor in mostly "B" melodramas, though he probably gave a few unintentionally funny performances in his early career. The genius of Airplane! was that it took Nielson and other actors not usually associated with comedy, such as Lloyd Bridges, Robert Stack and Peter Graves, and had them deliver the same straightforward, stone-faced, square jawed performance they'd given a million times throughout their careers while reciting some incredibly absurd and ridiculous dialogue. One of my favorite bits in the film is the running gag where Bridges, as the situation spirals more and more out of control, says, "I guess I picked the wrong day to quit smoking (or drinking or sniffing glue)" in the same tough guy monotone he had used to read suspect their rights as TV's Joe Forrester. Nielson went on to star in the TV series Police Squad and the Naked Gun series of movies spun off from it that followed the same formula, being from the same writers and directors, as Airplane!
Unfortunately, the success of those projects apparently went to Nielson's head and somehow convinced him that he was actually funny. This has led to him mugging his way through a series of awful films and some dreadful commercials for the Ohio Lottery. Sadly, what was probably just a lark for Graves and Bridges, who went back to what they did best immediately after Airplane!, has become a lifetime of self-delusion for Nielson.
But then I think there are people who actually care what I have to say here, so who am I to talk about self-delusion.


thebigcurve said...

uh, thanks for the chips.
Those are some interesting thoughts about Mr. Nielsen.
As for me, I am going to watch Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkeban,
because I watched the first two films the other day.
stay tuned for more updates.

Jack Bertram said...

I actually like watching those inane films that Nielsen is in, but you know, you're right, he's not funny. For some reason, I keep watching them and laughing. I can't stop myself.