The plot of the series is a basic parody of detective film clichés, featuring stereotypical characters, settings, and situations. Many other film genres and styles are mocked as well, and the movies are full of references to current events and contemporary pop culture.
The movie starts in a meeting in Beirut with a collection of anti-American leaders: Ayatollah Khomeini, Mikhail Gorbachev (who claims he has the Americans believing he is “a nice guy”), Yasser Arafat, Muammar al-Gaddafi and Idi Amin, who are planning a terrorist act against the US. The man who is later shown to be Pahpshmir is seen at this meeting. It turns out that Frank Drebin has been posing undercover as a waiter; he beats up all the attendees, wipes off Gorbachev’s forehead birthmark (“I knew it!!!”), then knocks the turban off the Ayatollah, to which a mortified Khomeini is shown to have an orange mohawk underneath. Drebin then defiantly tells them all that they will never attack America as long as he is on the job.
Back in Los Angeles, Officer Nordberg unsuccessfully attempts to bust a heroin drug operation at the docks organized by Vincent Ludwig, and is shot numerous times by Ludwig’s goons but, before falling off into the sea, suffers additional injuries like being hit on the back of his head on an iron pipe, burning his left hand on a coal oven, and having a window falling shut on his right hand (it is a running gag that Nordberg keeps getting badly injured, but somehow manages to survive). After being briefed on the case by his colleague Captain Ed Hocken, Frank visits Nordberg in hospital, but the near-comatose Nordberg can provide only a few cryptic clues, including a picture of the ship on which the deal had been organized—and the ship belongs to Vincent Ludwig.
Frank then meets with wacky police scientist Ted, a parody of James Bond’s Q. Ted invents things such as a wall that is able to defend itself from tagging, to which a street gang is then shown attempting to spray paint the wall, only to have cannons of spray paint activate towards them, sending them running off screaming. Ted has invented a cufflink that shoots out a tiny dart which renders the victim into a temporary sleep, promptly testing it on Hocken.
Pahpshmir is seen meeting with Vincent Ludwig, a businessman who has terrorist connections, where Ludwig says that he will assassinate Queen Elizabeth II (who is on a state visit to the USA) for $20 million. Ludwig demonstrates that he has a way of turning anyone into an unknowing assassin at the press of Ludwig’s beeper; it appears that the victims are responding to a post-hypnotic suggestion (repeating “I must kill [name of the target]” and trying to do so even with ineffective weapons, in a very automatized way).
Drebin visits Ludwig in his office (thereby causing some minor chaos) and inadvertently lets slip the information that Nordberg is still alive. Ed gives Frank 24 hours to clear Nordberg as a result. Later on another attempt is made on Nordberg’s life. Frank chases the assassin (a hypnotized doctor) in a commandeered car operated by a panicked student driver and her unflappable instructor (John Houseman), until the luckless assassin crashes the car into (in succession) a gasoline truck, a US Army truck carrying a missile, and- with the missile in tow- a fireworks factory, which presumably eliminates the assassin.
As he works on the case, Drebin meets and falls in love with Ludwig’s assistant Jane Spencer. It is eventually revealed that Jane knows nothing about Ludwig’s plot, and after the pair spend the night together, she helps Frank with his investigation. However, things go awry as Frank breaks into Ludwig’s office to get information. He ends up setting a fire, destroying most of Ludwig’s property. Then, to make things worse, he ends up causing more trouble at a reception for the Queen. When Ludwig presents the Queen with a Revolutionary War-era musket as a gift, Frank (delirious from the horns trumpeting the Queen’s arrvial) dives at the Queen sending them sliding across the table. He is then removed from the force.
The climax of the film centers on the Queen’s visit to a California Angels baseball game. Frank must find out how Ludwig plans to assassinate her- he is told by Jane one of the players is going to do it- while hiding from his fellow policemen, who are now under orders to arrest him (although Police Squad is in his corner).
Frank decides to go undercover, first knocking out “renowned opera singer” Enrico Pallazzo (obvious parody of Luciano Pavarotti), taking his clothes and proceeding to brutally mangle the national anthem, along with Pallazzo’s reputation. Frank then knocks out the home plate umpire with a bat while walking back through the tunnel and begins calling the game, while at the same time frisking players for weapons. Having been informed that the assassination will take place during the seventh inning stretch, Frank proceeds as a normal umpire would while talking with Ed about not being able to find the assassin in between innings. With two outs in the top of the seventh, realizing he’s running out of time, Frank goes to great lengths to delay the game, ultimately resorting to interfering with the play to the ire of the Angels’ manager and the umpires.
The scoreboard operator overrules Frank’s last out call in the top of the seventh and Ludwig triggers the beeper, with Angels outfielder Reggie Jackson responding (“I must kill… the Queen.”). Jane alerts Frank, who chases after Jackson. He catches him and tackles him, inadvertently triggering an all-out brawl between the Angels and their opponent the Seattle Mariners, as every single player piles up on top of one another. Meanwhile, Ludwig takes Jane to the top of the stadium at gunpoint.
During the brawl, Reggie Jackson emerges from the pile, rather unscathed, and points the gun at the Queen. Frank fires one of Ted’s cufflink darts to try and hit him, but instead hits a fat woman in the upper mezzanine. However bumbling, Frank still manages to save the Queen’s life, because the dazed fat woman falls on top of Jackson, crushing him.
The audience is amazed at Frank’s heroism although they do not know who he is. He reveals himself, but only the mayor and Ed know who he is (the rest of the crowd assumes he’s still Enrico Pallazzo and chant his name as such). Frank then moves through the crowd to the top of the stadium, where Jane is being held hostage. Frank shoots Ludwig with the other cufflink dart, causing him to stagger and fall several stories over the stadium’s railing. The USC marching band performing “Louie, Louie” then tromps over his steamroller-flattened body, pressing the beeper, which makes Jane try to kill Frank with Ludwig’s gun. Frank uses reverse psychology to try and break Jane’s hypnotized state, by saying that if he cannot be with her he may as well be murdered, and gives her an engagement ring, after which Jane is freed from Ludwig’s assassination hypnosis and then embraces him and accepts his marriage proposal. His speech is broadcast on the stadium screen, causing the teams to stop fighting and make up, as well as cause the everyone in the stadium, including the players from both teams, quarrelling wives and husbands, Palestinians and Israelis, Curt Gowdy and Jim Palmer, and a mailman and a dog, to all hug each other. The mayor thanks Frank, saying the whole world owes him a debt of gratitude, and he is congratulated by Nordberg. The latter, while still wheelchair-bound, seems much better until Frank pats him on the back, sending him zooming down the aisle and up over the railing of the stadium’s upper deck as the movie ends.
Oh, how I love nonsensical, farce/comedies. The first time I saw this film, I didn’t et half the jokes, but was still rolling around on the ground laughing. Now, 21 yrs years later, I get all the jokes, and it makes the film that much better.
Leslie Nielsen has long been known for these films that make no sense. Couple that with his flair for physical comedy, and you’ve got an entertaining film that even those that despise comedy can’t help but find themselves laughing.
Look, I don’t care what you say/think about O.J. Simpson. Similar to his NFL and college career achievements, you can’t deny what he did just because he may or may not have killed a couple of people. Having said that, Simpson is great as Nordberg, even though he doesn’t have much of role, other than being more accident prone than Nielsen.
Priscilla Presley, you know, Elvis’ wife, is quite fetching as Jane. It is easy to see why they chose her to be the token eye candy. On top of her good looks, she also isn’t too bad of an actress, especially when she’s being as clutzy as Nielsen.
Ricardo Montalban is no stranger to villainy, with stints on the dark side in the Spy Kids and original Star Trek franchises. Vincent Ludwig makes his first on-screen appearance giving the appearance of some sort of heartless criminal, but as the film progresses, he doesn’t go anywhere near that characterization.
It appears that there was a show called Police Squad back in the day, but I’ve never seen it…yet. If the film is anything like it, then you can be assured that I’ll love it. There is nothing to not like about the film, though, unless you’re just boycotting anything O.J. related, which is totally stupid, if you ask me. There comes a time to move on. Besides, this is such a funny, entertaining picture, that you’ll forget about all that.
4 1/2 out of 5 stars