Starring: Leslie Nielsen, Nicollette Sheridan, Andy Griffith
Director: Rick Friedberg
Running Time: 81 mins
Spy Hard is an American film about Agent Dick Steele, also known as WD-40, who is tasked with saving the world once again from the evil General Rancor, who he thought was dead after killing him on a previous mission.
Leslie Nielsen has been the face of some of the funniest parody movies of all time. Airplane, in particular, is legendary for its ridiculously silly but endlessly hilarious madness from beginning to end, while The Naked Gun trilogy is also a series full of fun and stupid hijinks. Spy Hard, unfortunately, isn’t quite on the same level, and although it has some moments of decent humour, it feels a little too messy and try-hard in its delivery of the parody humour, all making for a less-than-exceptional watch.
Let’s start on the bright side, with the fact that Spy Hard, despite not matching up to the best parody movies of all time, does have some good laughs from time to time. Leslie Nielsen, above all, is as entertaining a lead as always, even if his character isn’t quite as smooth and purely entertaining as his personas in Airplane and The Naked Gun.
As a result, while you won’t be endlessly wetting yourself laughing throughout, simply because the comedy isn’t quite exceptional, the silly atmosphere, combined with a very enjoyable central turn from Nielsen, makes for a relatively entertaining watch.
The issues with Spy Hard come from the fact that it just isn’t as funny as it thinks it is. While Airplane, The Naked Gun and Austin Powers (another spy parody that makes the genre work far better) are all just as silly as Spy Hard, they make their ridiculousness work well simply thanks to the fact that they’ve got some really good comedy.
Here, while there are laughs throughout, it’s not a consistent stream of great jokes, and its most obviously idiotic and ridiculous gags really aren’t as funny as they’re clearly meant to be, which can become particularly frustrating to watch at times.
And of course, when the comedy’s not as good, your attention naturally turns to the story for some entertainment, and there’s really nothing to write home about there. Again, the best parody movies are able to get by without a properly coherent story by being so raucously funny, but when everything’s a little more middling like is the case here, it makes trying to follow the deliberately stupid story really quite irritating.
Overall, while I enjoyed elements of Spy Hard, and had some fun with a typically light-hearted central performance from Leslie Nielsen, it’s a film that really doesn’t stand up to the quality of its fellow parodies, and as such proves a rather frustrating watch when the comedy isn’t at its best, which is why I’m giving it a 6.9.