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Film / Spy Hard

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"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 (primarily James Bond) and other action films. Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg wrote the film, which was directed by Jason's father Rick Friedberg.

Leslie Nielsen stars as Dick Steele, Agent WD-40, opposite Nicollette 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.

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-handedly defeats Rancor's guards while Steele focuses on Rancor himself.
  • An Arm and a Leg: General Rancor lost both his arms after his previous run-in with Agent Dick Steele, but has had various prosthetic replacements constructed. After Steele ties Rancor to his own missile in the climax, he loses his legs as well.
  • And This Is for...: Played for Laughs.
    Secret agents: And this is for My Girl 2!
    Beat as the two agents look at each other
    Secret agents: WE DON'T CARE!
  • 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: 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.
  • Body Wipe: During the credits, the camera zooms into "Weird Al" Yankovic's nostril until it fills the screen.
  • Book Ends: The opening and closing versions of the theme song have Weird Al expressly referring them as such.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: When Agent Steele goes to visit a female agent in a hotel room, he does an internal monologue the entire time, but she can somehow hear his voiceover.
  • 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 "Committed to Evil" as its company motto.
  • Company Cross References: The eastern facade of the TeamDisney/Michael Eisner building at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, featuring caryatids of the Seven Dwarfs holding up the roof, is featured in a rare reference to the Disney brand in a film from a mature wing of the company note 
  • 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.
    • The end ones, following the Naked Gun tradition, have jokes such as "Horse Translator ... Doctor Dolittle", "Gorgeous Blonde's Phone Number: Still Trying To Get It" and "Kung Fu Grip: G.I. Joe".
  • Damsel in Distress: Barbara Dahl, who spends the major part of the movie strapped to a bomb.
  • 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: Kabul is far worse—Ray Charles is blind; Kabul doesn't even look the first time he and Steele meet. Shortly after, he runs over a woman's 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.
  • Fake Arm Disarm: Rancor loses both his robotic arms during the final fight with Steele, forcing him to flee.
  • Faux Action Girl: Barbara Dahl infiltrates Rancor's base, only to be captured and become the Damsel in Distress.
  • Fed to the Beast: Parodied. After capturing the hero, General Rancor tries to have Agent Dick Steele fed to... a dinosaur. He escapes, and it feeds on Rancor's right hand-man instead.
  • 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.
  • Full Moon Silhouette: Executed during the Speed parody, during the bus jump.
  • Funny Background Event: During the intro sequence (which is parodying that of Thunderball), two of the female silhouettes bump into each other and begin fighting.
    • Behind the air-stewardess & the obnoxious businessman arguing with her, someone can be seen putting a crying baby into an overhead locker.
    • The PA announcements at LAX apparently drift into a Spanish lesson ("¿Donde es Maria?" "Where is Maria?" "Maria is in the library.")
  • Funny Bruce Lee Noises: Done by Steele fighting a would-be assassin in his hotel.
  • Goofy Print Underwear: On the poster.
  • Hollywood Silencer: The bad guys use a pillow to silence the machine gun they are using to execute a mime.
  • "Home Alone" Antics: Subverted: 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/Noisy Nature: 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.
  • Jurassic Farce: General Rancor keeps several pet dinosaurs in his Supervillain Lair and prepares to have Agent Steel fed to them. They use re-used sound FX from Jurassic Park to drive the point home.
    • Not to mention... whatever it was that the tribesmen who originally captured them fell victim to offscreen.
  • 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.
  • Leg Focus: Parodied. Veronika Ukrinsky appears to be introduced by a pan-up of her legs, until she appears in the middle of a statue of legs. That being said, the filmmakers still play the trope straight with her, and even the credits note "Ms. Sheridan's Stand-Out: Her Legs".
  • Literal Cliffhanger: Spoofed when Steele first defeats General Rancor, when his love interest Victoria Dahl is hanging from a cliff. Not only does Steele's sleeve rip, revealing a ridiculously muscular arm, but it stretches like they're in a cartoon. She falls into the ocean to her death, performing a swan dive.
  • 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. Possibly a Musician Allusion to Tom Jones—obviously a parody of Thunderball, but may be a reference to the urban legend that Tom Jones passed out when holding that famous last note.
  • 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.
  • Narrow Parody: It's primarily a James Bond spoof, but it's pretty much a time capsule of early-to-mid 1990s pop culture, including references to Jurassic Park, True Lies, Speed, Sister Act, Pulp Fiction, In the Line of Fire, and Home Alone, not all of which have stood the test of time.
  • Neon Sign Hideout: The villain'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 note .
    "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.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations:
    Steele (addressing Veronique): Tell me more about you.
    : Brian the Waiter (showing up): Well, I like loose-fitting clothes and I drive a '69 Pinto.
  • Pillow Silencer: Exaggerated, wherein a mime gets shot with a .50 Browning machine gun silenced in this fashion on the pre-credits sequence.
  • Punny Name: The daughter of Steele's initial love interest is Barbara Dahl. Miss Cheevus is another example.
  • Pungeon Master: General Rancor, who is missing both his arms and has various prosthetic replacements, is constantly making arm-related jokes.
    "Arm me!"
    [After a Fake Arm Disarm] "Leave me alone, I'm an unarmed man!"
  • 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: 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.
    • 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.
    • The running gag from Get Smart of Agent 13 taking cover in something absurd is "parodied" here.
  • Running Gag: A jogger is frequently injured during the film. Also the guy who keeps getting hit in the chest with arrows and knives.
  • Saved by the Platform Below: Parodied. Dick Steele takes a horse up to the roof of a hotel while fleeing from one of the bad guys (on a lawnmower), but he ends up falling off the ledge. It turns out that that the horse landed inside a pool that was just one floor down, while Dick somehow landed inside a Harrier Jump Jet (actually part of a billboard, but it scares off the bad guy before he can notice this).
  • Sexy Secretary: Miss Cheevus, who constantly flirts with Dick Steele.
  • Sensual Slavs: Veronika Ukrinsky, Russian agent and Femme Fatale.
  • Spy Speak: Parodied as Steele meets Kabul — until the driver saying his name makes him stump.
  • Stealth Pun: Barbara Dahl = Barbie Doll.
  • 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.
  • Take My Hand!: Done in a spoof of Cliffhanger.
  • Take That!: After the thugs capture the Captain Ersatz of Kevin McAllister and the Professor Ukrinsky, they decide to take the time to torture the former, by hitting his head off of stairs, one for all the movies they didn't like, that starred Macaulay Culkin at the time.
    Thug 1: This is for Getting Even with Dad!
    Thug 2: And this is for My Girl!
    Thug 1: And this is for My Girl 2!
    Mcluckey: I wasn't even in My Girl 2!
    —> Both Thugs:' WE DON'T CARE!!!!
  • Talking Animal: When Dick Steele and his horse are about to fall off the roof of a hotel building, the horse makes a very human "Whoah!" after Steele does the same.
  • The Tape Knew You Would Say That: Played straight when Rancor's tape arrives... And deconstructed as Steele watches the same tape while away, leading him to ask the questions the tape expected with a delay.
  • Technology Marches On: In-Universe as the native islander uses a cell phone to inform the general that Steele had been spotted on the island.
  • Teetering on the Edge: Dick panics during a Presidential parade and orders the President's limo to drive off in a hurry before getting it stuck dangling on the edge of a pier. He screws it up by tying a rope to the back end of the bumper to pull it back up, which then breaks off.
  • This Page Will Self-Destruct: When he parachutes out, Steele leaves the tape recorder in the helicopter that he was being flown in, causing it to explode while still on-board, to the horror of the pilot.
  • Toilet Humor: Done parodying the horse chase from True Lies.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: General Rancor has been rebuilt with artificial arms after surviving the explosion of his helicopter so he can menace the world once more.
  • Your Head A-Splode: "Weird Al" Yankovic, hitting the high note of doom in the opening credits.