Monday, February 6, 2012

I Have Too Much Time On My Hands, Which Is Evident By My Taking In Wrongfully Accused!

The Good: Occasional moments of humor, Richard Crenna's acting
The Bad: Parody without any real insight, Same as most of Nielsen's movies
The Basics: A pretty standard Leslie Nielsen spoof takes on The Fugitive. Lacking in insight and entertainment; you can do better.

Nothing makes me quite so happy about being able to review something than being able to watch, listen to or read it without necessarily paying for it. I mean, when I review something I absolutely love, I often go out and buy a copy. But when something is truly awful and I reviewed it before purchasing it, that makes me happy. I am not, after all, rich. Such was the case with Wrongfully Accused. I was bored to tears on Thanksgiving and I lay down in my hotel room and it was the only thing on. I am so glad I did not have to buy this one to review it.

Wrongfully Accused is a parody movie making fun of such thrillers as The Fugitive and other such genre films like that. In typical Leslie Nielsen spoof film, though, it makes fun of several other movies and television shows ranging from Titanic to Baywatch. The basic story is that Ryan Harrison is framed for a murder he did not commit and on his way to jail, his bus is in an accident allowing him to get free while trying to find the real murderer.

The fundamental problem with slapstick humor - the type of humor that this parody falls into far too frequently - is that it gets old real quick. One might argue that all that could be done with slapstick has been done. I am one such person who will argue that. Why? There are only so many ways a person may be hit, chased, fall down or disappear that is truly different and funny and at this point in my life - having seen a ton of silent films as a youngster - I've seen pretty much all of them.

Moreover, the point of the best parodies are to deconstruct and make laughable the things that make the best movies the greatest films. Nielsen, along with writer/director Pat Proft, degenerate into the all too familiar rut of simply taking things that were exciting or emotive in other movies or television shows and playing with them by making them into slapstick moments. In the end, it reveals no special insight into the original medium and it ends up not being funny (often in the first viewing) upon multiple viewings.

Such is as it is in Wrongfully Accused. Ryan Harrison is an amazing violinist (some of the scenes at the beginning actually suggest a parody of the magnificent The Red Violin in one of the film's few memorably funny scenes) who does not want to have an affair with a woman who finds him irresistible. When her husband, Hibbing Goodhue is found dead, the movie quickly spirals into all of the worst aspects of courtroom movies and chase films. In fact, it's hard to believe as Harrison runs away that he - or the director - has any idea what he is doing. Instead, it feels like the movie was made for the three parody bits of The Fugitive. It is not enough. In fact, all of this movie was probably covered in a Mad TV or Saturday Night Live sketch back in the day. If not, it could have been.

In fact, the only bright spot in Wrongfully Accused is the performance of Richard Crenna. Crenna plays Lt. Falls, a reworked version of Tommy Lee Jones' character from The Fugitive. Crenna is actually funny on the trail of Harrison, with his deadpan nature playing well off all of the other, more absurd characters.

Otherwise, Wrongfully Accused is a silly and often outright stupid movie that fails to live up to even entertaining. It is populated by a cast of people who feel like they are in a movie that is far too long for the one or two decent jokes in it. Even Leslie Nielsen never seems to come alive and be vibrant as Harrison. And how they convinced Sandra Bernhard, who plays Dr. Fridley, to be in this is a mystery to me.

As I wrote this, it occurred to me that I could be even more constructive. I recalled that part of Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back is a parody of The Fugitive and between what is in the film release and the deleted scenes of Will Farrell as Marshall Willenholly, all of the best possible parodies of The Fugitive are done there. Here - despite the fact that this movie precedes the other one - they are but pale copies.

So, there you have it; if you want something funny that is a parody of The Fugitive (and a lot of other things, like Star Wars: The Phantom Menace), Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back does it with style, panache and entertainment. If you want a waste of time for a few hours with, at most, a chance to break a smile occasionally, Wrongfully Accused might fit the bill.

For other parody films, please be sure to visit my reviews of:
Vampires Suck!
Not Another Teen Movie
Scary Movie 4


For other film reviews, please be sure to check out my Movie Review Index Page by clicking here!

© 2012, 2004 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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