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Film / Spy Hard

"All the action. All the women. Half the intelligence."

Spy Hard (1996) is an action-comedy movie that marked the film debuts of Seltzer and Friedberg, spoofing spy and other action films. Leslie Nielsen stars as Dick Steele, Agent WD-40, opposite Nicolette Sheridan as his partner Veronique Ukrinsky, Agent 3.14, as the two try to stop the evil genius, General Rancor (Andy Griffith), from taking over the world.

The film was clearly aiming for the Zucker-Abrams-Zucker style of Rapid-Fire Comedy, but fell short and probably suffered from comparisons to the still-recent The Naked Gun films, the last of which was released just two years before this flick. Still, it has its moments; and it's Citizen Kane compared to the movies that Seltzer and Friedberg would go on to direct themselves. This makes a lot more sense when you consider it was Jason Friedberg's dad, Rick Friedberg, who both directed and wrote the final screenplay, proving the old adage that talent tends to skip a generation. (Not saying ol' Rick was a movie genius either).

This movie contains examples of:

  • Acronym and Abbreviation Overload: Steele, to Agent 3.14:
    Steele: You carry a UB-21 Schnauzer with a Gnab silencer. That's KGB. You prefer an H&K over an A.K. Your surveillance technique is NSA. Your ID is CIA. You received your Ph.D. at NYU. Traded in your GTO for a BMV. You listen to CDs by R.E.M. and STP. And you'd like to see J.F.K. in his BVDs, getting down with O.P.P. And you probably put the toilet paper back on the roll with the paper on the inside.
  • Action Girl: Agent 3.14. She effortlessly beats up three goons threatening Steele and in the climax almost single handely defeats Rancor's guards while Steele focuses on rancor himself.
  • Big Bad: General Rancor.
  • Big Stupid Doodoo Head: WD-40 to the villain in the climax: "Let me tell you what being patriotic really means, you scumbag poop."
  • Blind Driving: See Drives Like Crazy below.
  • The Cameo: Mr. T, Ray Charles, Pat Morita, Hulk Hogan and many, many others.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: It's only visible in the background, but Rancor Industries has "Commited to Evil" as its company motto.
  • Credits Gag: While he's singing the title song, "Weird Al" Yankovic interacts with the credit captions a couple of times; he bats the movie title away, and does a double-take at his own credit when it appears.
  • Damsel in Distress: Barbara Dahl.
  • Disposable Pilot: Mr. T plays one of these in the opening sequence.
  • Dramatic Space Drifting: Parodied when General Rancor is launched into space aboard his rocket, and then floats around until he slams into an Apollo-type spacecraft, prompting a voiceover of "Houston, we have a problem".
  • Drives Like Crazy: The bus driver played by Ray Charles. Yes, the blind dude. Inverted in that he's actually pretty good (when the brakes work, at least). It's implied he isn't really blind, since he compliments Ukrinsky on her dress.
    • Kabul is far worse- Ray Charles is blind; Kabul doesn't even look the first time he and Steel meet. Shortly after, he runs over a womans foot...then asks for her phone-number, like he did it on purpose. He later takes his hands off the wheel of an ambulance.
  • Eye Poke: Used against Dick Steele. He blocks successfully but he's punched out immediately after anyway.
  • Faux Action Girl: Barbara Dahl.
  • Feet-First Introduction: Parodied. When Dick first meets Agent 3.14, the camera pans up what you think is her legs, but is actually a huge billboard of some random woman's legs.
  • Flashback: Steele has one about Victoria Dahl, which consists of a parody of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Later, Steele tries to have another flashback but The Director cuts it short: "We don't have time for flashbacks."
    • Steele has a flashback of the first time he met an agent with whom he is speaking: less than thirty seconds earlier.
  • Follow the Leader: Followed the spy movie parody genre - which is odd because James Bond never took itself seriously anyway.
  • Full Moon Silhouette: Executed during the Speed parody, during the bus jump.
  • Goofy Print Underwear: On the poster.
  • Hollywood Silencer: The bad guys use a pillow to silence the machine gun they are using to execute prisoners.
    • To be fair, they were using it to execute a mime.
      • Even better, in the Dutch subtitles, they "leg hem het zwijgen op". ("Silence him.")
      • And to add to the funny, the pillow is being used to silence a Ma Deuce.
  • "Home Alone" Antics: Averted: A bunch of secret agents chasing a Captain Ersatz of Kevin McAllister through a house simply evade and defuse all of the traps.
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...: Parodied when Steele rescues 3.14 from the nunnery; at one point a bunch of ice lands on 3.14 and she remarks that she's so cold. Instead of the obvious, Steele assumes that the people who kidnapped her did horrible things to her:
    Steele: What have they done to you? They'll pay for this.
  • Inner Monologue Conversation: A seductress responds vocally to Dick's Inner Monologue.
  • Jerkass: General Rancor. Agent Coleman, and Robert Culp as the obnoxious businessman on the plane.
  • Jungles Sound Like Kookaburras: Parodied. As a spy sneaks into a secret base in a Caribbean jungle, a bunch of jungle sounds can be heard, including the kookaburra call. Then the camera moves to the side a little, where we see that a guard is making all these sounds, while reading from a book: The Cries of Common Jungle Animals.
  • Large Ham: Andy Griffith as General Rancor, and how.
  • Left the Background Music On: The Chief is talking, while facing the camera, about how horrible it will be if General Rancor succeeds in his master plan, while a violin is playing in the background. He then gets annoyed and turns around to yell at the violinist standing to the side.
  • Lock and Load Montage: Parodied. The heroes get jumped by enemy mooks mid-montage.
  • Made of Explodium: "Weird Al" Yankovic's head, after holding the final note of the title theme for about two minutes.
  • Master of Disguise: The Chief disguises himself as all sorts of furniture throughout his office- he calls it "the ancient art of Origatze".
  • Ms. Fanservice: Agent 3.14 spends the entire film running around in very short, tight skirts and minidresses. While Steele is looking at her crucially important pendant he becomes distracted by her... upper chest area.
  • Neon Sign Hideout: The villian's headquarters has a clearly marked "Intruder Entrance" sign on one of their doors, and it isn't Schmuck Bait either, it's actually pointing out to intruders the best place for them to enter.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: "McClatchey" is clearly supposed to be a stand-in for Macaulay Culkin.
    "I wasn't even in My Girl 2!"
    (beat) "We don't care!"
    • Not so with Hulk Hogan, who fares poorly in the fight and has to tag in Dr. Joyce Brothers, a media psychologist who wrote for Good Housekeeping. She does significantly better.
  • Nun Too Holy: ... but they will make you hole-y.
  • Pungeon Master: General Rancor.
    "Arm me!"
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: That note that Weird Al sings that was edited to last for a ridiculously long amount of time? Nope. That was the plan, but Al found out he really could hold the note out that long.
  • Red-and-White Comedy Poster
  • Redundant Parody:
    • Partial example with the spoof sequence of True Lies, given that that was itself a comedic and near-parodic take on spy action films- though, to be fair, it was much, much more of an Action film than this movie.
    • Similarly, there is a parody of the already absurd scene from Pulp Fiction where John Travolta and Uma Thurman dance the Batusi. It's no more ridiculous than the original.
    • Don't forget the Sister Act spoof, another film that was already a comedy.
    • Basically Foreshadowing of Seltzer and Friedberg's later films. They never do seem to know if the movie they're spoofing was a drama, or an actual comedy.
  • Running Gag: A jogger is frequently injured during the film. Also the guy who keeps getting hit in the chest with arrows and knives.
  • Sexy Secretary: Miss Cheevus.
  • Strapped to a Bomb: The film plays this for laughs, as the film was a spoof type film. The villain ties up the captured lady agent to the bomb.
  • Strapped to a Rocket: General Rancor's eventual fate.
  • Suicidal Gotcha: Steele escapes by jumping off a roof, only to appear again in a Harrier jump-jet, scaring off the pursuers. It is then revealed to be a prop being lifted by a helicopter for a billboard.
    • How could they have possibly missed a helicopter?