February 1, 1993

National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1

A funnier-than-it-deserves "Lethal Weapon" parody, starring Emilio Estevez as the burnt out suicidal cop, and Samuel L. Jackson as the about-to-retire straight arrow detective. Also starring Kathy Ireland, William Shatner, Tim Curry, and Jon Lovitz, with cameos by Academy Award winners Whoopi Goldberg, F. Murray Abraham... and Denis Leary, J.T. Walsh, James Doohan, Corey Feldman, Phil Hartman, Erik Estrada, Larry Wilcox, Paul Gleason, Bruce Willis, Charlie Sheen, and Denise Richards (Richards and Sheen would marry 9 years later, and divorce 13 years later.)
At the convenience store counter...
Colt: Nice weather? You think we're having... nice weather? I guess you didn't lose the only one that meant anything in your life. I guess you don't feel burned out by the human misery and despair perpetrated by the criminal vermin that infest every pore of this decaying city, forcing you to guzzle cheap wine and cheaper whiskey to dull the pain that shatters your heart, rips at your soul, and keeps your days forever gray... What flavor Icee you got today?
Clerk: Kiwi Cherry.
Colt: Yuck.
Back in Spring Semester 1993 I was taking Aesthetics and Media Criticism at Emerson College, a course that gave me an excuse to write movie reviews for course credit. A week after seeing this movie I wrote a 435 word review and got a B! 24 years later I am impressed that my writing style is pretty good. There's a couple of ideas I'd describe better, and a couple of writing crutches I'd replace, but mostly it's good for a 21 year old. Here's the complete text:
If you're tired of all the cliches in buddy cop movies there days, well, so are the folks at National Lampoon. Their latest release, Loaded Weapon 1 is a surprisingly hilarious farce of the Lethal Weapon series. I was expecting a funny but uneven film that went for the so-called fart joke instead of being truly creative. Loaded Weapon is truly creative, with only rare examples of that same old joke.
You don't have to have seen Lethal Weapon 1, 2, & 3 to enjoy this film. The movie is more than just a parody of Lethal Weapon, it pokes fun at every cliche in the Hollywood filmmaking book. From cops limbo-ing under crime scene tape, to car bombs barely missing our heroes repeatedly, to the inevitable shootout in the warehouse sequence, every character and every plot device is all too familiar. Like all the Lethal Weapon films, the plot is contrived and unimportant, except for the fact that it's so familiar.
Emilio Estevez and Samuel Jackson fill the shoes of Mel Gibson and Danny Glover as the loose cannon, ragged edge cop and the near retirement, play-it-safe partner. Detectives Colt and Luger are out to solve a murder and uncover a drug smuggling ring lead by William Shatner as General Mortars, the army-man-turned-drug-smuggler. Shatner is accompanied by Tim Curry as the psycho killer henchman and Sports Illustrated Supermodel Kathy Ireland as the blonde bombshell-unwilling accomplice who turns out to be a good guy but gets it in the end anyway. Like the films of the now-famous Zucker-Abrhams-Zucker team, such as Airplane, Top Secret! and The Naked Gun, the cast doesn't play funny so much as the comedy just flows through them from the script onto the screen.
The writing goes to even further excesses of parody than any of the ZAZ movies. The script is frequently inventive and insightful, but it can sink into 12 to 15 year-old territory as well, especially the Basic Instinct scene and the Wayne's World parody that closes the film. But what it lacks in creativity is makes up for in sheer volume. The jokes do not let up, and the constant appearances by big-name Hollywood stars in surprising cameo roles keep us on our toes throughout.
Loaded Weapon 1 is sort of The Player meets Wayne's World, with constant parody of the action genre and pop culture in general that's not afraid to admit that it's just a movie. It succeeds because of its mix of inventive writing, fresh juvenile fun, and tongue-in-cheek parody. Check out National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1 and be ready to laugh out loud.