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Film / Wrongfully Accused

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"It's not just a's every movie."

Wrongfully Accused is a 1998 parody film written and directed by longtime ZAZ collaborator Pat Proft and starring Leslie Nielsen. An exemplar of the joke-a-minute (though really it's more like every 10 to 20 seconds) school of comedy.

The frame parody is built around the 1993 version of The Fugitive centering on renowned concert violinist, Ryan Harrison (Nielsen) in pursuit of the one-armed, one-legged and one-eyed man who killed his lover's husband (Michael York) after being framed for the murder. Richard Crenna's delightful parody of Tommy Lee Jones' fast-talking federal marshal is probably the highlight of the movie, with many of the best lines.

However, The Fugitive is hardly the only thing that gets parodied here. Particularly notable targets include Mission Impossible, Titanic, Braveheart, Riverdance, Clear and Present Danger, Patriot Games, Mentos commercials, Baywatch, Star Wars, Fatal Attraction, The Usual Suspects and even North By Northwest and Casablanca, among many others.

This film contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Actor Allusion:
    • At one point, Harrison jumps on a bicycle with the seat missing. This is exactly what Harrison's actor Leslie Nielsen mentioned as Frank Deblin in the second The Naked Gun film.
    • While trying to hack the computer, Harrison drops a fart noisemaker, but catches it, and makes the fart noise. Leslie Nielsen would carry one around in his pocket and squeeze it at random, often in elevators.
  • Actor IS the Title Character: Well, more like the title adverb-adjective.
  • The Adjectival Man: The one-armed, one-eyed, one-legged man parodying The Fugitive's one-armed man.
  • Affectionate Parody: Not just of The Fugitive and other movies and TV shows but also of suspenseful Fugitive Arc mystery thrillers and action dramas in general.
  • Alliterative Name: The federal marshal, Fergus Falls.
  • Angels Pose: Parodied by Fergus Falls and his two agents when they break down a door. Lampshaded with "ALRIGHT MY ANGELS, MOVE".
  • Artificial Limbs:
    • Sean Laughrea has them, replacing an eye, an arm, and a leg.
    • The hospital also has a section labeled "Limbs 'R' Us" (in the style of the Toys-R-Us logo).
  • Banana Peel: A whole bus is taken down by one!
  • Behind a Stick: A locomotive hides behind a tree while chasing Ryan through the woods.
  • Big Stupid Doo Doo Head:
    • While on the bus being transported to prison, Ryan and one of his guards get into an argument that eventually degenerates into this.
    • Driver who gets cut off by bus: "Hey, you pee-pee head."
  • Breathless Non Sequitur: Practically every line of dialogue.
  • Bullet Dancing: In a parody of Riverdance!
  • Butt-Monkey: Ryan goes through quite a bit of abuse trying to stay one step ahead of his pursuers.
  • The Cameo:
    • John Walsh, long time host of America's Most Wanted along with Maury Hannigan of Real Stories of the Highway Patrol, appear in the film. Though it isn't clear if he's playing as the "America's Most Wanted" host as he is seen in a backwoods bait and tackle shop.
    • The puppet Lambchop from Lambchops Play Along for no real reason other than it's supposed to be funny
  • Captain Obvious: "You're not Lauren! You're an imposter!"
  • Clear My Name: See title.
  • Creator Cameo: Director Pat Proft plays a window technician who accidentally gets electrocuted by a defibrillator.
  • Credits Gag:
    • Occurs almost immediately, with "Leslie Nielsen is Leslie Nielsen."note 
    • The jokes don't stop even after the film is finished:
      • After the "Boom Operator" (a real job operating the boom microphone) are listed a "Pow Operator" and "Kablam Operator".
      • The Negative Cutter (who edits the film negative to match the final print) is followed by "Very Up and Positive" Cutter.
      • Also appearing later on is a restaurant menu of entrees.
      • Towards the end of the credits, a disclaimer scrolls up that reads "NO ONE CARES ABOUT THE FOLLOWING PEOPLE" and then a bunch of names rapidly scroll up the screen as Unreadably Fast Text before continuing at a normal speed.
  • Criminal Doppelgänger: Parodied. Ryan sees a "Wanted" poster of himself and rapidly draws black hair, glasses, a beard and a tiny hat over his image. Immediately, another man with black hair, glasses, mustache and tiny hat in the same building is arrested.
  • Destructo-Nookie: Apparently, Ryan's love-making is so powerful it sets off an airbag in the headboard of the bed.
  • Double Take: During the North By Northwest parody, an airplane is headed towards Ryan, and Ryan looks back nine times before he starts running away.
  • Dramatic Shattering: After Ryan exits the bait shop, John Walsh pieces together the string of lies that Ryan created, which he made using various items and signs in the bait shop. John drops his coffee in slow motion, which shatters on the floor, in a nod to The Usual Suspects. However, true to a parody flick, John also drops a doughnut, an egg, and a water balloon.
  • Drench Celebration: At the end of Ryan's violin performance at the concert, two men dump Gatorade on him and then he manages to get dry by the time the camera returns to him.
  • Eccentric Millionaire: Hibbing Goodhue.
  • Erotic Eating: At the concert, Lauren sucks on a cigar, causing Ryan to have a Raging Stiffie.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama: In the scene parodying the famous "storm drain dive" from The Fugitive, Ryan is caught between a raging waterfall and being apprehended by the marshall. He shouts that he's not going back to prison ("wherever it is") and makes for a dive - only to slam his head on the ceiling of the pipe he's standing in. Disoriented, he simply flops over the edge instead.
  • Femme Fatale: Ultimately subverted with Cass.
  • Funny Background Event: A few, including a hilarious one where a newscaster on television is frantically screaming over how she's unable to hear herself after Ryan mutes her with the remote.
  • Gold Digger: Lauren.
  • Groin Attack: Ryan tries to escape on a bicycle, but it's missing the seat and the seatpost hits in the nuts.
  • Hassle-Free Hotwire: Ryan is able to rip open the panel and connect two wires to get the car drivable. It's not fully hassle free, as it also activates the hydraulic mechanism and the "La Cucaracha" car horn.
  • Heart Beats out of Chest: Happens to Ryan during a near-encounter with Fergus Falls before accidentally going over a waterfall. Also, said heart is cartoon shaped.
  • Hellhole Prison: The destination sign on the bus reads "A HELLISH PRISON".
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Ryan to Cass.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Obtusely parodied during the climax as Ryan is able to seat a truckload of people, wash the windshield, change a van's tire and check its pressure at a normal pace all while being shot at a very close range by several terrorists.
  • Inspector Javert: Fergus Falls, being a parody of Sam Gerard from The Fugitive.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong:
    Cass: Ryan, you can feel safe here. We're six floors up, no one can see you.
    Cass' neighbor: [off-screen] Hey, Cass, who's your new friend?
  • Key Under the Doormat: Hilariously inverted when Ryan finds a large key-shaped case containing a rock inside that he uses to break the glass on the door.
  • Killed Off for Real/We Hardly Knew Ye: Hibbing Goodhue (Michael York) is murdered in the first 13 minutes. His murder is what drives the plot.
  • Laser Hallway: Shaped like the Star of David, in the "Mission: Impossible" Cable Drop scene.
    Security System: Shalom!
  • Leg Cannon: A firearm is disguised as an artificial limb.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: As seen in the tackle shop scene, Harrison quickly takes various names from various products for a quick cover, barely escaping because the police in the shop saw the defaced wanted poster. The detective there then reviews in his mind what was said, spotting each name component in question.
  • Location Theme Naming: Many character names are based in cities in Pat Proft's native Minnesota (Cass Lake, Fergus Falls, Orono, Bagley, Fridley), a twofer in the case of Hibbing Goodhue (the former a city, the latter a county).
  • Major Injury Underreaction: A staple of the genre, but especially prominent in Goodhue's murder scene - he reacts to multiple gunshot wounds with a simple "Ouch!" and exasperatedly asking if his killer is "quite finished." Halfway through, the killer shoots a small bandage Goodhue tries to use out of his hand.
  • Marilyn Maneuver: Ryan pulls this after infiltrating a Scottish pipe band and standing over an air vent. His legs are suspiciously feminine and clean-shaven, and there is sound similar to blowing over a glass bottle.
  • The Mel Brooks Number: Right at the beginning, with Lambchop.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: The murder of Hibbing Goodhue → A scheme to assassinate the United Nations Secretary General, Sir Robert McKintyre.
  • Miranda Warning: The first line is spoken, then it detours into the Pledge of Allegiance and wedding vows.
  • Miscarriage of Justice: Didn't have quite the same ring as Wrongfully Accused.
  • "Mission: Impossible" Cable Drop: Parodying the Trope Maker, with the wires of an air conditioner.
  • No Kill like Overkill:
    • Ryan is sentenced to be executed "Buffet Style": lethally-injected, electrocuted and placed before a firing squad.
    • Also, near the end, Lauren uses an enormous missile launcher to destroy a van Ryan is driving.
  • The Power of Cheese: Parodied. Ryan is looking for a way out of a bathroom while the police batter their way into Cass' house, and eating a Mentos inspires him to yank her toilet off the wall and place it under a window to escape, complete with turning to the camera and giving a thumbs-up with his Mentos.
  • Punny Name: Cass Lake, which is the name of an actual lake in Minnesota. (see Location Theme Naming above)
  • Railroad Tracks of Doom: Complete with a locomotive that chases him by literally hopping off its rails and chasing him through a forest.
  • Rapid-Fire Comedy
  • Rasputinian Death: Played for Laughs and somewhat inverted when Hibbing Goodhue is shot 26 times before finally being taken out by three arrows to the chest. So it's the arrows that kill him, but not the gunshots?
  • Reference Overdosed: The central plot is The Fugitive, but there is room for all sorts of works to be parodied.
  • The Reveal/Everyone Is Related: Lauren is Cass' aunt being her mother's identical twin sister ("born ten years apart, but identical"), Sean is her adoptive brother while Sir Robert McKintyre is Cass' father.
  • Rockers Smash Guitars: At the end of his concert, after the abrupt Jimi Hendrix impersonation, Ryan smashes his violin.
  • Scooby-Dooby Doors: During the Chase Scene in the sewer.
  • Shout-Out: "Dr. Kimble to surgery please". Dr. Richard Kimble is the surgeon from The Fugitive who Leslie Nielsen parodies. On top of that, Ryan Harrison's last name is a nod to Kimble's actor Harrison Ford (and the first name is a possible reference to a character played by Ford, Jack Ryan). The newscaster Ryan is watching is even named "Ruth Kimble".
  • Spoofs "R" Us: The hospital has a section labeled "Limbs 'R' Us".
  • Super-Persistent Predator: After failing to run him over the first time, the locomotive jumps off the track and chases Ryan through the woods.
  • Talks Like a Simile: Fergus Falls.
    "Oh lord! This [case] has more twists and turns than Chubby Checker in a blender."
    "That man's as slick as a lizard in Jerry Lewis' hair."
  • That Poor Plant: After Harrison exits the diaper truck and starts walking down the street, flowers behind him wither and droop.
  • Throw the Book at Them: At one point the first draft of the Titanic (1997) screenplay, which is a large ream of paper, is used as a blunt instrument.
  • Title Drop: Ryan just can't stress it enough that he has been...
  • Too Much Information: When Lauren is interrogated:
    Lauren: Ryan and I were having sex; hot, steamy, sweaty sex. Every part of my body tingled orgasm after orgasm...
    Sgt. Orono: Lady, I just asked for your name.
  • Trash Landing: Unfortunately for Ryan, the trash consists of nothing but dirty diaper bags.
  • The Vamp: Lauren.
  • Vanity License Plate: The lowrider Ryan steals has one: DUF US.
  • Waxing Lyrical:
    Ryan: The Beatles said it best. She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, listen, Michelle ma belle, this nowhere man is the walrus, koo koo kachoo!
  • Western Terrorists: The main villains are part of a group known as the "Freedom Fighters", an obvious and over-the-top parody of the Provisional IRA.
  • You, Get Me Coffee: Because a cocktail waitress just happened to be at the train crash site.