Ok, so I just watched this movie after watching the six episodes of Police Squad! (Did I somehow make it through youth in the 80s in the US without watching either, at the time? I think I basically did, though I'm sure they were on in the background at some point.) Tbh the series was snappier. The hammy nature of several of the bits was more hammy, because of episode-to-episode repetition. Norberg and Hocken have funnier stuff to do in the series and better dynamics with Drebin. The love interest in the movie has some funny moments but also a lot of dull ones. I'm sad that the shoeshine guy didn't make an appearance; I always looked forward to his part in Police Squad! All in all, the movie has a lot of really funny moments, but it also drags, and I kept wondering when / if it was going to pick up.
I watched this as part of watching a series of cop shows; I was interested to try to understand more about this genre which has been so expansive in American cinema since the 70s, to try to figure out why it has been so compelling, in various forms, and whether it tells us anything about this moment of competing demands: to defund the police, to recall left-liberal prosecutors, to puncture the mystique of the police in the aftermath of an abject, sickening failure like in Uvalde. However, I am too lazy to deconstruct anything, so I mostly just watch the movies and shoot fish in a barrel. (I love shooting fish in a barrel! Sometimes, I get one! And it always makes me happy. However, it's kind of messy. I've been thinking about trying a net.)
Police Squad! and Naked Gun are interesting in this regard in that they sort of survey the tropes that had become standard over the 70s and early 80s in cop shows, boil them down, and exaggerate them for yuks. Honestly, I would have to think more about where some of these come from. The early 70s renegade cop movies I've been watching are great for understanding the bleeding edge of the ideology and the desire, but they don't offer the most boiled down version of the tropes that later became standard.
One low-key aspect of this first Naked Gun movie that I liked: when Drebin plays, for what seems like it's aiming at stupid fun, something that turns out not to be funny at all -- in fact, he killed five actors who were putting on a Shakespeare in a Park festival (and not just any actors, but good ones!), or he finds exculpatory evidence for a guy who was already sent to the electric chair, or he laments, upon the possibility of losing his badge, that the next time he shoots someone, he could be arrested. You could easily overlook these short, deflating moments, but they tell the truth about policing in a way that a lot of cop shows don't. All of this bumbling isn't *just* for yuks. Ok, it's 98% for yuks, but it's also maybe 2% serious about quietly planting the idea that all this bumbling might not be just fuzzy and endearing. Of course, the cops still get the bad guys, every time, and the Dirty Harry fanboys probably just kept laughing.
The three-act structure of the movie was bold, and actually Ryan Gosling, playing a variation of the same character he often plays, worked better for me here than in many of his outings. The transition between act I and act II is a bold move and a shocker, but thinking back on it, I think it worked. However, act III fizzles in so many ways. The AJ character is just spoiled and annoying, with nothing particularly interesting about him; Bradley Cooper, who was interesting in act II, is also annoying, his better character motivations being simplistic and his worse ones being obvious. Jason is interesting to watch as a character, but the resolution seems slapped together.
Nevertheless, I learned an important lesson about fatherhood from this movie. If you're gonna rob banks, quit while you are ahead.
I loved the ambience of this and Noomi Rapace's intensity and emotional range. It felt successful as an intriguing fable or folk tale with a lot of eerie tension. The ending is an abrupt shock. I didn't love how flat it left things, but then, it kind of fit the idea of the whole thing as a fable.