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Spy Hard
Starring Leslie Nielsen, Nicolette Sheridan, Andy Griffith, and Charles Durning
Directed by Rick Friedberg

Executive Producer Leslie Nielsen and everybody else apply the Naked Gun (formerly Airplane) style of comedy to the spy genre. It's worked before and, to a great extent, it works again. But it is also stretched way too thin with non-stop li'l richard jokes (you figure it out, this is a "family" forum). I never thought I could sit through so many jokes aimed at that most private part of the male anatomy laughing ferociously. But I did.

Which begs the question, "How long can Spy Hard keep it up?" Answer: about 50 of its 80 minutes (you can only tell so many **** jokes, IMO). After that it deflates like a malfunctioning fart cushion as it strains to stick in more movie parodies which , sometimes, it does very well. But when the joke topics fail to rise above the large intestine, the laughs tend to stick in the throat.

In some ways Spy Hard is a twisted inside out and played on its side version of Buck Henry and Mel Brooks' Get Smart television series. This time though, Agents 86 and 99 are nowhere to be seen. Agent 22 is now the Director (played by Charles Durning) and he has moved up in the world, impersonating furniture, rugs, Venetian blinds and other large household items. Borrow the undersexed secretary and secret weapons designer from the James Bond movies, stir it all up and see how many jokes about flatulence you can come up with.

Ex-spies flit through the movie (nice to see Robert Culp working now that Cosby's got a new career ), as do out of work television actors, over the hill professional wrestlers and the ever ready to do anything for a buck Dr. Joyce Brothers.

But is it funny? Yep. Right from the start, the visual and dialogued jokes come fast and furiously. James Bond is parodied. Mission: Impossible is parodied. Cheap special effects demonstrate why the Fantastic Four movie would have been a joke. Then you get the Bondish musical theme, a gut busting parody of the Goldfinger song and the standard Bond opening by "Weird" Al Yankovic.

The first ten minutes of Spy Hard are among the funniest I have ever seen on screen. The next 40 are more than amusing. And that's about it. Leslie Nielsen delivers his, as usual, absolutely-straight-as-an-arrow performance. Nicolette Sheridan looks great. Andy Griffith (the bad guy!) seems to be having the time of his life in a small part. And a ton of celebrity cameos run the gamut from surprising to blase.

Probably the most fun you can have, when you aren't laughing, is to try to keep a list of the movies parodied. Here's a start: Mission: Impossible, Jurassic Park, Goldfinger, In the Line of Fire, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (that one's REAL subtle) . . . and you take it from there.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price for Spy Hard, he would have paid . . .

Lessee, fifty into eighty . . . carry the nine . . . order takeout . . .

$5.00

I was never good at percentages. 50 minutes out of 80 is still a good deal, considering how long you'll wait on line for Mission: Impossible.

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