#395. Galaxy!

Every evening, when humans look up at the sky and see the stars twinkling above, many of them wonder what lies beyond our galaxy. Sure, we’ve explored outer space a little bit, but there’s so much more we haven’t even gotten close to discovering outside our solar system. This speculation of what lies beyond the sun’s gravitational pull has fueled science fiction writers for decades. With so much potential in the galaxies beyond our own, the results are almost fantasy in comparison. Over time, computer technology has improved to the point where filmmakers can also capture the wonder and awe tied to the unknown beyond the galaxy. While the science of these movies might not be accurate, they help answer the “what if” questions. This week’s two films focus on settings located in far-off galaxies.

Guardians of the GalaxyChris Pratt
Year: 2014
Rating: PG-13
Length: 121 minutes / 2.02 hours

With the current limitations of physics preventing humans from exploring the rest of the galaxy, there’s a lot we don’t know about when it comes to the beings and technologies located in other galaxies. Many people consider humans to be “alone” in our galaxy, but that still doesn’t stop many others from searching for other forms of sentient life. Others are convinced that we have been visited by aliens from distant galaxies. These visitors have allegedly abducted humans from Earth, but what if these humans eventually learned to live their lives in these new galaxies? While humans would be rare in these situations, we’d still have a unique perspective that likely wouldn’t be present in other alien communities. Could humans use these attributes to save the very galaxy that so few of them have visited?

Despite being abducted as a child in the late 1980s, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) has made the best of the situation and is now traipsing across the galaxy under the pseudonym of “Star-Lord.” As a treasure-hunter and mercenary, Peter finds himself in possession of an orb that has attracted the attention of several individuals. After an incident on Xandar, the individuals who want the sphere have been captured and sent to jail in the Kyln. Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), Groot (Vin Diesel), and Gamora (Zoe Saldana) team up with Peter, who also manages to convince Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) to not kill Gamora and join them on a mission to confront Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) instead. When the orb is revealed to hold an Infinity Stone, the fight is on to protect the galaxy by preventing Ronan from giving the power to Thanos (Josh Brolin).

Galaxy Quest!Galaxy Quest!
Year: 1999
Rating: PG-13
Length: 102 minutes / 1.70 hours

When something becomes popular enough, eventually it becomes a parody of itself. Movies like Spaceballs (1987) made fun of Star Wars (1977) for the somewhat ridiculous space opera that it is. Similarly, the original 1960s run of Star Trek has spawned numerous parodies over the years. With a cultural influence that can’t be ignored, Star Trek has been lampooned by other television shows like The Orville (which itself actually takes the ideas presented in Star Trek pretty seriously). In terms of movies, though, Star Trek’s one notable parody would have to be Galaxy Quest! (1999). The original series of Star Trek was so ridiculous by the standards of the late-1990s, that it was easy to create a somewhat “meta” comedy based on the television series that has lasted for so long and spawned numerous imitators.

After the show Galaxy Quest became a cult sensation, fans began holding regular conventions for it. The cast of the show would regularly make appearances at these conventions, especially Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen), who portrayed the lead, Commander Peter Quincy Taggart. When he agrees to help the “Thermians” during a convention, he quickly learns aliens are real and that they used the television show to construct a working replica of the spaceship. Unfortunately, while the specifications for the ship were mentioned in Galaxy Quest, none of the aliens who made it know how it works. Enlisting the help of his former cast mates, Jason has to overcome their perception of him as a narcissist to help the Thermians defeat Sarris (Robin Sachs), a warlord who wants to see the Thermians exterminated.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 great galactic adventures

#393. Phil Lord / Chris Miller

Two heads are better than one. Of course, when it comes to humor, there have been numerous duos who have been known for their comedy. Abbot and Costello is one example. Laurel and Hardy are another. Being able to partner up with another comedian can produce legendary results, especially if one of them is the “straight man.” Stand-up comedy can be brutal, so with another person, comedy can be a little easier. Directing a movie can also be a daunting task, but if two people partner together to make it happen, the results are similarly outstanding. Plenty of siblings have paired up to create films, with the Coen Brothers and the Wachowskis being two prime examples. The key to any partnership is being on the same wavelength. Concerning comedy and directing, Phil Lord and Chris Miller certainly have a great partnership. This week’s two films highlight some comedy gold by Phil Lord and Chris Miller.

                                                 Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Year: 2009Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Rating: PG
Length: 90 minutes / 1.50 hours

When Phil Lord and Chris Miller met at Dartmouth College, they found they both had similar artistic tastes and passions. One of these passions was making animated films. While they created short animated films growing up, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009) was their breakout movie. It took them almost six years to see the movie come to fruition. During this time, they learned a lot about characters, story, and writing, partly because they were fired from the project, then re-hired to finish it. Executive feedback drove them to develop as writers and directors, which certainly helped their craft. At the very least, even the CGI used to create Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was used in such a way as to emphasize their love of traditional animation, hearkening back to their humble origins.

Somewhat based on the children’s book of the same name, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is set in the small town/island of Swallow Falls. The town is floundering due to its lackluster sardine industry, and the locals are sick of having to eat the excess amounts of the oily fish. Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) is an idealistic inventor whose creation of a device that can turn water into food has the potential to save the town. It’s not until after his initial test of the machine fails that he realizes the device is using the moisture of the clouds around the city to make it “rain” food. Everyone is delighted that there’s something else to eat other than sardines, thus making Flint an overnight success. Unfortunately, the device starts to go out of control and the food gets progressively bigger, threatening to destroy the town with a hurricane of food. It’s up to Flint to stop his machine and save the city.

The LEGO MovieThe LEGO Movie
Year: 2014
Rating: PG
Length: 100 minutes / 1.67 hours

After the success of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Lord and Miller managed to become the directors of 21 Jump Street (2012) and its sequel, 22 Jump Street (2014), straying somewhat from their animation roots, but sticking to the comedy they proved they could produce together. Their adherence to comedy has created some friction over the years, causing them to be removed from directing such films as Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) since it didn’t meet the tone Disney wanted to convey for the movie. Despite stepping back from the directing side of filmmaking (having only directed four films), they have been writers and producers for many films, including the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs sequel in 2013. Fortunately, the movies they have written and directed have been quite hilarious, including the phenomenal The LEGO Movie (2014).

Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt) is a generic construction worker in the city of Bricksburg. He goes about his normal routine, touting how everything about his life is awesome. One day, he finds a mysterious woman named Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) who seems to be searching for something. Going to confront her, he falls into a deep hole and discovers an odd device known as the “Piece of Resistance.” After passing out, he wakes up under interrogation from one of the subordinates of Lord Business (Will Ferrell) with the Piece of Resistance fastened to his back. Through a series of adventures, he’s rescued by Wyldstyle and meets many other “Master Builders” who are trying to stop Lord Business’ plan to use the Kragle to glue all the LEGO pieces together, permanently. It’s up to Emmet to band the resistance together, discover his own latent talent, and save the world.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 animated adventures by Phil Lord and Chris Miller

Bacon #: 2 (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (directed) / Danny Mann -> Balto / Kevin Bacon)

#390. Steve Carell

Anyone who was watching television in the mid-2000s was likely aware of NBC’s mockumentary sitcom, The Office. Even today, you’re likely to find this show on syndication somewhere on cable television. If you’ve seen an episode of the show, you’ll likely recognize Steve Carell as the boss of the eponymous office, Michael Scott. While he started out in television, Carell has worked his way up to motion pictures. Initially, Carell mostly stuck to his talent of comedy and performed in genre films of the same type. Over time, he has expanded his acting chops and shown he can handle serious roles as well. This progression from television to comedies to dramas is pretty standard for comedic actors, and Steve Carell was no different. This week’s two films highlight some of the dramas and comedies of Steve Carell.

Dan in Real LifeDan in Real Life
Year: 2007
Rating: PG-13
Length: 98 minutes / 1.63 hours

Sometimes the transition from comedy to drama can be, well . . . dramatic. Other times, there’s enough of a range of comedies to allow for a somewhat smoother transition. Case in point: the dark comedy. These can be edgier works like Judd Apatow’s The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005) or Knocked Up (2007). They can also be Oscar darlings like Little Miss Sunshine (2006), The Big Short (2015), or Vice (2018). Sometimes they’re straight up depressing like Dan in Real Life (2007) or Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012). In any case, these darker and edgier comedies eventually lead the way to more serious dramas like Foxcatcher (2014), which earned Steve Carell his first Best Actor Oscar nomination. Pretty soon, these dramas start to happen more regularly. In Carell’s case, films like Last Flag Flying (2017), Beautiful Boy (2018), and Welcome to Marwen (2018) have few comedic moments in them, if any at all.

As a widower trying to raise three girls, Dan Burns (Steve Carell), is having trouble figuring out his own life while he writes advice for others via his newspaper column. Nothing seems to break his depression. Even a visit to Rhode Island to meet up with his family for their annual gathering doesn’t help. As luck would have it, he runs across a woman in a bookstore who piques his interest. The two seem to hit it off, but Marie (Juliette Binoche) is hesitant to lead him any further since she has a boyfriend already. As it just so happens, her boyfriend is Dan’s brother Mitch (Dane Cook). With Marie participating in the family activities, Dan has more opportunities to fall in love with her, even if he knows she’s “off limits.” During the family talent show, he lets slip his true feelings, which starts a series of events in motion that will change everyone’s lives.

Despicable MeDespicable Me
Year: 2010
Rating: PG
Length: 95 minutes / 1.58 hours

While Steve Carell still does comedies, they’re certainly where he got his start. Interestingly enough, quite a few of his comedies have spawned sequels, thus giving him more opportunities to show off his comedic talent. Before The Office started, Carell was in films like Bruce Almighty (2003) and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004). These films led to Evan Almighty (2007), and Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013), respectively. Even though Carell has also acted in other comedies like Get Smart (2008) and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013), his longest series to date has been as a voice actor in the Despicable Me franchise. First appearing in 2010’s Despicable Me, Carell has been voicing the main character, Gru, in the sequels, Despicable Me 2 (2013) and Despicable Me 3 (2017), as well as the spin-off, Minions (2015).

After being foiled on a recent attempt to steal the Great Pyramids, Gru (Steve Carell) needs a loan from the Bank of Evil to execute his next nefarious scheme: stealing the moon. Of course, the bank needs to know that Gru can actually pull off this villainous heist and requires he obtain the necessary shrink ray before they loan him the money. This leads Gru to Vector (Jason Segel), a rival supervillain with better technology and resources. In the course of many failed attempts, Gru learns Vector’s weakness: cookies sold by three orphan girls. Rushing out to adopt said girls, Gru wants to use them to infiltrate Vector’s lab but soon finds the responsibilities of being an adopted parent are interfering with his villainy. This all comes to a head when his one opportunity to steal the moon occurs on the very same night as the girls’ dance recital. Which part of his life will he prioritize?

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 Steve Carell classics

Bacon #: 1 (Crazy, Stupid, Love \ Kevin Bacon)

#388. Adoption

The reasons for giving a child up for adoption are nearly as varied as wanting to adopt a child. While it shouldn’t necessarily be viewed as an economic “supply and demand” situation, there are often times where children could be better off in an adoption situation than staying with birth parents. These situations can bring about drama later in the child’s life when they learn they aren’t the biological progeny of their adoptive parents. Of course, most parents have the best of intentions for their adoptive children, but sometimes the battle between nature and nurture can prove to be a challenge for even the best-prepared parents. Needless to say, adoption is an option for those who find themselves with unexpected pregnancies and those who unexplainably cannot become pregnant. This week’s two films highlight adoption as part of their plot.

Year: 2007
Rating: R
Length: 96 minutes / 1.6 hours

Teenagers rarely have the resources or maturity to raise a child, which is mostly why the idea of pregnant teenagers is generally frowned upon. There are generally three options for these unexpected children: abort them, keep them, or give them up for adoption. That’s not to say teenage pregnancies are the main source for adoptions, as unsafe family conditions or resource constraints could force a mother to give up their child for adoption. Whatever the case, the determination of what to do with these children is often influenced heavily by the mother’s family. If there’s a strong support network for the mother, she might choose to keep the child, despite the challenges. If the family is more judgmental, then the mother might opt for an abortion to keep things simple. At the end of the day, even if a child is being adopted by a different family, a mother still has to give birth to the child.

When Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page) learns she is pregnant, she immediately goes out to get an abortion. Her life as a teenager will have to change drastically if she decides to keep this child, but once she’s in the abortion clinic, she loses her nerve and leaves. At this point, her only option is to put the child up for adoption. Her parents are surprised but supportive of her decision. Opting for a closed adoption, Juno meets with Mark Loring (Jason Bateman) and Vanessa Loring (Jennifer Garner), who have agreed to adopt the child. Juno and Mark hit it off, but after Mark decides to leave Vanessa, Juno begins to re-think the adoption. At the same time, she also realizes she loves the boy who got her pregnant and wonders if they could make a relationship/baby work. After leaving a note on the Loring’s door, Juno goes into labor shortly after and gives birth to a boy.

The Odd Life of Timothy GreenThe Odd Life of Timothy Green
Year: 2012
Rating: PG
Length: 105 minutes / 1.75 hours

Reproduction is a messy and complicated process. While it almost seems simple for some couples to get pregnant, without even trying, others spend years trying to achieve the same result. So many factors can lead to a couple being unable to conceive. Even if the medical community is becoming better equipped to handle these limitations or restrictions, these procedures can be extremely costly. Unfortunately, due to the bureaucracy involved with the adoption process, it’s not much less expensive or emotionally-draining than trying to conceive via alternative methods. Even though becoming foster parents can be an easier and less-expensive alternative, there are sometimes challenges involved with these children as well since some of the “nature” has already been set in stone. In any case, adoptive parents should expect just as many challenges with a new child as they would if they had birthed the child themselves.

Jim Green (Joel Edgerton) and Cindy Green (Jennifer Garner) are heartbroken when they learn they are medically unable to conceive a child. To keep Cindy from spiraling into depression, Jim encourages her to outline the ideal child she would want and bury the notes in the backyard. In a magical twist, shortly after a surprise thunderstorm, Timothy (CJ Adams), a 10-year-old boy, arrives at their house and claims to be their son. While this is strange by any means, Timothy also has leaves growing on his legs that cannot be removed. Despite challenges at school and in the town, Timothy has been living up to his parents’ hopes and dreams, but at the cost of the leaves on his legs. These leaves are a countdown to his eventual disappearance. Even though his time with them was short, the Greens have proven they are fit parents and can care for an adoptive child.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 adoptive aspirations

#387. Unexpected Pregnancy

Pregnancy can often bring immense joy to a family, as soon-to-be parents prepare to bring their progeny into the world. On the flip side, an unexpected pregnancy can bring intense anxiety and emotions into potentially strained relationships. Of course, cynics might argue that the unforeseen pregnancies in our society have the potential to overwhelm us, especially if those who want to become pregnant cannot. At least, that’s the idea movies like Idiocracy (2006) have promoted. In any case, the surprise of an unexpected pregnancy can be solved in many ways. Many unwanted pregnancies are aborted, but there are also options for adoption, as well as keeping the baby. Whatever ends up happening, these pregnancies are usually monumental moments in people’s lives and will change them from then on out. This week’s two films highlight some unexpected pregnancies.

Children of MenChildren of Men
Year: 2006
Rating: R
Length: 109 minutes / 1.82 hours

With the birth rates in many developed countries dropping lower every year, pregnancies are becoming more and more unexpected. When pregnancies are no longer the norm, fear sets in and society crumbles. The entirety of civilization hinges on whether or not a population can replenish itself over time. Even certain “gaps” in generations where there aren’t as many births can affect the economy as they age through their developmental, career, and retirement life stages. If we take these ideas to the extreme and imagine a world where it’s been 18 years since the last birth, the introduction of an unexpected pregnancy could be a world-changing event. While we are far from such a scenario, this is precisely the plot presented in the dystopian film, Children of Men (2006).

Due to several factors, humanity hasn’t had a new birth in almost two decades. Added to this is the fact that many—if not most—children died from disease just before the shortage of births. These problems have put the whole world on edge, and for a good reason. Many individuals, like Theo Faron (Clive Owen), have become cynical, merely waiting for their inevitable deaths and the end of civilization. In exchange for a lot of money, Theo agrees to escort a refugee to safety since the United Kingdom is violently strict when it comes to immigrants. The refugee, Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey) reveals to Theo that she is pregnant with the world’s first baby in 18 years. Such a fantastic event is unexpected by all involved, but it leads to a battle to gain control of the child for political purposes. Can Kee escape to safety with her baby?

Year: 2007
Rating: R
Length: 96 minutes / 1.6 hours

While an unexpected pregnancy can be a plot twist in dramas like Gone Girl (2014), it seems to be a common trope of the comedy genre. When characters have to scramble to figure out how they’re going to handle a baby, comedy ensues. Movies like Knocked Up (2007) and Waitress (2007) focus on the relationships that give birth to these unexpected pregnancies, and what happens to the relationships after this defining event. One night stands and loveless marriages are quite different situations than the oft-demeaned teenage pregnancy. Part of the reason for this is due to the emotional maturity of the parties involved. Teenagers usually don’t have any idea what they want to do with their lives, so being tied down to a newborn and being required to raise it for the next 18 years is a scary and unsettling proposition, especially when these teenagers aren’t even 18 themselves.

The titular Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page) is surprised to learn she is pregnant. As a 16-year-old, she should be learning how to drive, but now must make a difficult decision that could affect her entire life. Her initial reaction is to get an abortion, but she changes her mind and opts for adoption instead. With her parents’ support, Juno meets with a couple who want to adopt her baby and immediately bonds with them. Meanwhile, Juno finds herself conflicted in regards to the child’s father, Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera). She knows he adores her, but the stigma of being a pregnant teenager is one of the forces that causes her to push him away. While Juno and Paulie’s relationship breaks down, the married couple suddenly gets a divorce as well, forcing Juno to make a tough decision for her baby. Will she keep the child and raise it herself, or give it to one of the adoptive parents?

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 unprepared parents

#372. Few actors, many roles

For the most part, each individual who acts in a movie only has one character to play. To understand the amount of emotional depth of a single character, these actors will often devote themselves to this singular role. But what about those actors who portray more than one character? Furthermore, what if the whole cast needs to take on multiple roles? There could be many reasons to go this way, including funding limitations, comedic purposes, or thematic motifs. Whatever the reason, when a few actors take on multiple roles in a movie, it can either be a distraction or a fun treasure hunt as the viewer tries to identify all the roles these actors filled. This is even more pronounced when famous and well-known actors are taking on these multiple roles. This week’s two films highlight some examples of a few actors taking on many roles.

Cloud AtlasCloud Atlas
Year: 2012
Rating: R
Length: 172 minutes / 2.87 hours

When it comes to a specific character who is seen during different parts of their life, the standard way to show this growth is via different actors playing the same character. This has been done in many movies, including the 2016 Best Picture, Moonlight. Sometimes, a single actor may play the same character throughout the lifecycle, like Brad Pitt did in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008). However, when it comes to portraying the same character archetype over centuries, the same actor can be employed to show the link between the timelines. During the silent era, Buster Keaton did this in Three Ages (1923), mostly because he was the star of the film. In a more modern context, Cloud Atlas (2012) chooses to use the same set of all-star actors in multiple roles throughout multiple timelines as an artistic technique to show the interconnectedness of the characters.

While most of the members of the ensemble cast of Cloud Atlas only have one segment where they’re the lead character, they do appear in most segments. The timeline starts with Adam Ewing (Jim Sturgess), an abolitionist from 1849 who wrote a journal during his near-death experience. Robert Frobisher (Ben Whishaw) read this journal while composing “The Cloud Atlas Sextet” for the elderly Vyvyan Ayrs (Jim Broadbent). Luisa Rey (Halle Berry) found this piece of music in a record store in 1973 before surviving an assassination attempt due to the exposé she was writing. Timothy Cavendish (Jim Broadbent) would eventually read the novelization of these events in 2012, which would inspire him to write his own story. Sonmi-451 (Doona Bae) would be inspired by the movie version of this book in 2144, starting a revolution in the process. Finally, Zachry (Tom Hanks) lives in a post-apocalyptic 2321 created by the revolution.

Life of BrianLife of Brian
Year: 1979
Rating: R
Length: 94 minutes / 1.57 hours

Years after I saw Dr. Strangelove (1964), I came to the realization that three different characters in the film were portrayed by Peter Sellers. The acting was so superb, I hadn’t even noticed they were all the same actor. In general, comedies are more likely to use a small group of actors in multiple roles, especially if they’re known for short comedy sketches on television. Sure, you can have a small set of actors portray multiple characters through their voices, like in The Simpsons Movie (2007), but when it comes to live-action films, the guys from Monty Python are the de facto comedy group when it comes to multiple roles for individual actors. This is likely due to their success in the realm of sketch comedy. Even though there is a narrative thread that runs through movies like Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) and Life of Brian (1979), they’re essentially just a series of sketches.

Living life in parallel to that of Jesus Christ (Kenneth Colley), Brian Cohen (Graham Chapman) was born just one door down from the stable where Jesus was born. Years later, he would attend the Sermon on the Mount and become inspired to join the People’s Front of Judea to stand up against the Romans’ rule. Through his exploits, he tries to blend into a crowd by pretending to be a prophet, repeating some of Jesus’ teachings in his own words. This leads to Brian developing a devoted following which eventually takes everything he says as a lesson or parable. Even random events are seen as miracles in their eyes. After finally escaping his following, he is captured by Roman guards and brought before Pontius Pilate (Michael Palin). Pilate offers to release a prisoner, and Brian’s name is offered, but someone else claiming to be him is released while he is crucified.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 many roles with not as many actors

#357. Leslie Nielsen

Most actors will know early in their career which genres work best for them. Whether it’s John Wayne and westerns or Boris Karloff and horror, these actors will usually excel in their respective genres for their entire career. Other actors may find that they can act in a particular style, but can’t seem to achieve success doing so. In these instances, some actors will switch genres to determine a fit that works for them. In terms of changing styles, many comedic actors can sometimes find success in drama, but the opposite is rarely true. Comedy requires a different understanding of acting, including facial expressions, deadpan deliveries, and . . . timing. And yet, while the transition from drama to comedy is rare, actors like Leslie Nielsen have found success in doing so. This week’s two films highlight two of Leslie Nielsen’s best comedies.

Year: 1980
Rating: PG
Length: 88 minutes / 1.47 hours

If I told you Leslie Nielsen didn’t act in a comedy until 24 years into his career, you’d likely respond with, “Surely, you can’t be serious!” And yet, this is the honest truth (and don’t call me Shirley). From films like Forbidden Planet (1956) and The Poseidon Adventure (1972), Nielsen managed to develop a career as the “serious” archetype. So, when a movie like Airplane! (1980) came along, many thought the film was going to be a serious “disaster” film along the lines of The Towering Inferno (1974) or the aforementioned The Poseidon Adventure. Leslie Nielsen’s deadpan acting of comedic lines merely accentuated the silliness that is contained in this disaster parody. One would almost wonder if Nielsen could have entered comedy earlier without developing the more serious personas to play against for maximum contrast and maximum comedy.

Dr. Rumack (Leslie Nielsen) is on a flight from Los Angeles to Chicago when many of the passengers start to show symptoms of food poisoning. Rumack can make the diagnosis because, between the options of steak or fish, he had the lasagna. Unfortunately, the flight crew all had fish, so now it’s up to flight attendant Elaine Dickinson (Julie Hagerty) to find someone who can fly the plane. As it just so happens, her former boyfriend, Ted Striker (Robert Hays), is aboard and has the skills as a former fighter pilot to land safely. Of course, his PTSD has affected his nerves, leading to his “drinking” problem. Dr. Rumack pulls Striker aside to let him know what’s at stake here. Through a bit of coaxing and encouragement, Rumack convinces Striker to fly the plane just as they come within range of landing at Chicago.

The Naked GunThe Naked Gun
Year: 1988
Rating: PG-13
Length: 85 minutes / 1.42 hours

After the success of Airplane!, the directors gave Leslie Nielsen a starring role in a television parody of detective shows known as Police Squad! This show eventually spun off into The Naked Gun film series, which included From the Files of Police Squad! (1988), 2½: The Smell of Fear (1991), and 331/3: The Final Insult (1994). By the time these films were concluded, Leslie Nielsen’s association with comedy was undeniable. He would go on to act in a number of other parodies, including Mel BrooksDracula: Dead and Loving It (1995), the James Bond parody, Spy Hard (1996), as well as a number of pop culture collage parodies like Scary Movie 3 (2003) and Scary Movie 4 (2006). Nielsen’s ability to never take himself that seriously was even exemplified after his death in 2010, with the epitaph on his gravestone being a simple fart joke: “Let ‘er rip.”

Upon returning from his vacation to Beirut, where he inadvertently foiled the plans of all of America’s enemies, Lieutenant Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) must exonerate the Police Squad from drug charges before Queen Elizabeth II (Jeannette Charles) arrives in Los Angeles. As the Queen’s security for the visit, any negative press on the Police Squad could be detrimental to the whole department. Meanwhile, drug lord Vincent Ludwig (Ricardo Montalbán) had developed a plan to create a sleeper assassin to take out the Queen. In a plan reminiscent of The Manchurian Candidate (1962), Ludwig hopes to use a beeper to trigger his assassin. To keep the Police Squad from foiling his plans, Ludwig assigns his assistant, Jane Spencer (Priscilla Presley), to distract Lieutenant Drebin. Through Drebin’s bumbling, he manages to save the day, while also preventing his own death at Jane’s hands by proposing to her.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 laugh-filled Leslie Nielsen roles

Bacon #: 2 (Nuts / Eli Wallach -> Mystic River / Kevin Bacon)