I'm not a huge fan of slapstick spoofs. I love "Airplane!" and the "Naked Gun" films, but it's not my favorite genre.
Ironic, then, that I find most spoof movies enjoyable, at the very least, because they're all really, really stupid. There's more quality in "Airplane!" than, say, "Hot Shots!", but both films are enjoyable, because you have to do absolutely no thinking whatsoever. All you have to do is laugh a few times. And with the millions of jokes (okay, hundreds) per film, you're sure to find at least a handful of things worth laughing at.
"National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1" is one of my favorite spoof flicks. Why? It's stupid, silly, funny, and one of the most enjoyable films available to see. Yeah, it's stupid, like I already said. But it's loads of fun, too. And I don't care if critics bashed it when it came out -- it's still a very fun movie.
Everything gets lampooned in this: "Lethal Weapon" to "Die Hard" to "Silence of the Lambs" to "CHiPs." And, alongside "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World"; "Austin Powers in Goldmember"; and "The Player," it has some of the most cameos/stars to date. Get this: Emilio Estevez, Samuel L. Jackson, Tim Curry, Jon Lovitz, William Shatner, Denis Leary, Erik Estrada, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Bill Nunn, Kathy Ireland, Corey Feldman, J.T. Walsh, Paul Gleason, F. Murray Abraham, Bruce Willis, Phil Hartman (R.I.P.), Whoopi Goldberg, Charlie Sheen (Emilio's half-brother)...am I missing anyone? Mel Gibson, Danny Glover and Joe Pesci would have completed this cast. I wonder if they rejected cameos.
Wes Luger (Jackson) has been assigned a new partner, the loose canon Jack Colt (Estevez), who lost his dog long ago and is now mentally unstable. Luger lost his partner (Goldberg), too, and the effects of the past often catch up with him, so far that he finds it impossible to fire a gun without shaking violently and spastic-like.
General Mortars (Shatner) is planning a devious scheme of running drugs through a Girl Scout cookie-type company, and Colt and Luger try to thwart his plan and save the day before it's too late. Meanwhile, they come to appreciate each other -- while lampooning everything in sight.
The most puzzling thing about "Loaded Weapon 1" is the fact that, if you look at most user comments on the Internet Movie Database, they're all quite positive. It has a low standing at 5.3 stars, yes, but the user reviews for the film are pretty decent. A lot of people found the film "funny for what it is." I do, too.
Spoofing a spoof is kinda pathetic, I'll admit. "Lethal Weapon" always was more tongue-in-cheek comedy than anything else. Even as a hard action film it was always winking at the other films of its genre. "Wayne's World" isn't exactly a drama of epic proportions, either, come to think of it. Even "Basic Instinct" is a hard film to spoof, if you take a moment to reflect -- it's never exactly horribly serious. Just sleazy. (I won't ruin how "Loaded Weapon 1" pokes fun at the famous Sharon Stone interrogation scene.)
Yet, in my honest opinion, "Loaded Weapon 1" does a pretty darn good job of spoofing everything in sight. Estevez is a good Riggs-type who pines for his lost dog (not a wife, mind you, but a dog). Jackson -- who's usually great -- is decent as the Murtaugh-type character, although he is shoved aside by the screenplay to make room for Estevez. (Whose brother was just as good in "Hot Shots!", although I think this is a funnier film.) Lovitz, hair bleached (impersonating Joe Pesci from the "Lethal Weapons"), comes across as an irritant sidekick who appears out of thin air only when the plot needs him -- which I suppose was the point. (Was "Loaded Weapon 1" assuming that Joe Pesci's Leo Getz character was an irritating co-star placed in the film as nothing more than an easy plot device? Probably.)
And in one of the simplest -- but also one of the most effective -- scenes, we get the famous bathroom bomb sequence from "Lethal Weapon 2" told in an entirely fresh perspective. Here's how it goes: The door to Jackson's house is wide open. Estevez walks in and calls him. "I'm up here!" is the response. Estevez walks up the stairs, gets to the bathroom, opens the door, sees Jackson on the toilet and says, "What are you doing?" Safe to say, he's doing exactly what it looks like. His blunt reply is one of the highlights of the film. (Let's face it, that scene from "LW2" was destined to get poked fun at some time or another -- I'm just glad it got spoofed in this.)