Spy Hard Cover Back in the day, when government's worked, plus the public had something better to watch than reality television, spying was all the rage. James Bond. Harry Palmer. Austin Powers. And Lindsay Lohan. All of these professionals knew exactly what they had to do to get their man, one way or another. Just like Director: Rick Friedberg; plus Actors: Leslie Nielsen, Nicollette Sheridan, Charles Durning, and Marcia Gay Harden. Especially in 1996 and for about 81-minutes.

Spy Hard

Secret Agent, Dick Steele, (Leslie Nielsen), thought that he'd saw the last of his arch-nemeses, General Rancor (Andy Griffith), when he blew him up in a helicopter fifteen years ago. But no. Dick was mistaken. Rancor's back. And he has brought along within him quite a dilemma too.

You see, this funny-faced bad-guy has kidnapped the daughter of one of Dick's old beau's, Barbara Dahl (Stephanie Romanov), and now he is holding the world to ransom unless Dick can find a microchip that controls his death-machine, and then present it to him within thirty-six hours.

No. Don't fret. Event though Dick is currently in retirement. Spending his days playing golf and shagging pretty dames who come his way. Nonetheless, Dick does eventually agree to help his old boss, the Director (Charles Durning), to find Rancor, that's if he can overcome any of the hired-goons he throw's his way.

For example; there's Desiree More (Talisa Soto), a very pretty young lady who wants to blow Dick away. Plus there's also a number of other non-descript henchmen of no fixed ability as well.

However, on the reverse side of this, Dick is aided by a friendly cab-driver named Kabul (John Ales), who has a lot to say and no place to say it. Moreover, there's the Russian Secret Agent, Veronique Ukrinsky, (Nicollette Sheridan), who's Father, Professor Ukrinsky (Elya Baskin), is the cleaver chap who has the micro-chip that Rancor wants to get his hands on.

Thank Yankovic! Let's hope that nothing happens to the Ukindky's, right? Or else Dick will be balls deep in vagina city.


Ops! Well, that's most probably why what next transpires all dances onto the scene when Nun's pick up a very nasty habit. As a traitor is in Dicks mist - adventures get a little bit pissed - a safe house turns into a right mess - plus bad-guys are generally arm-less.

When I was a teenager, I was what you'd call a 'class-clown'. Day in, day out, I'd find something that I'd thought amusing, and then I would try to imitate it to within an inch of its life. 

You know the type of thing I'm sure. I'd imitate my teachers. I'd imitate my mates. I'd imitate my mate's parents. I'd imitate my mate's grandparents. Heck, animal, vegetable, or mineral, if it had a pulse, I'd imitate it.

However, over time I began to realize that some-times too much can be just that - too much - and my own joviality started to become a bit respective with both myself and for those people around me. So what did I do? Stop? Nah! Too easy. I became a comedy-swat instead.

And do you know what? I learnt quite a lot from this exercise. As I began to understand the fundamental pitfalls where 'a joke' is concerned.

Nicollette Sheridan in Spy Hard

Leslie in Spy Hard
OK, I am sure that you are wondering to yourself why I am telling you this tale, when I should really be reviewing 'Spy Hard' instead. Correct? Well, in my most humble opinion, this comedy is a fundamental pitfall. Please allow me to explain to you why: (1) The actors are great. The story is simple. And the overall presentation is fairly well executed too. So why is this film so bog-standard, huh? Simple. The jokes are not that funny. To me, Leslie's other films [such as 'Naked Gun' for example] demonstrates that you need to have decent comedy writers and comedians to pull off a good gag. In this case, the comedians are good, but I am afraid to say that we've all heard the gag's before. (2) Certain movies which relies heavy on 'popular references' and 'in jokes' don't always stand the test of time. Now where this film is concerned, the references are still relevant, it's just that the 'immediacy' is starting to wane. (3) By in large a spoof needs a straight-forward story-line to follow, or else the 'funnies' may get weighed down with 'jolted exposition'. From my point of view the best spoofs manage to balance out these two components when they manage to amalgamate the comedy and the exposition into one single strand. This film did not do this at all. (4) OK, I am sure that you must be thinking that I am being a tad too harsh with this film - and maybe I am? But let me just state for the record that Leslie, Charles, Barry, and company, do pull of some very memorable performances indeed. Especially those two scenes where Charles camouflages himself in his own office, plus the Weird Al opening credits.  

Spy Hard The Movie

Hey, now that I have all of that off my chest, let's have some filmic-facts, huh? Just to lighten up this review a bit: (1) Leslie Nielsen was a Canadian by birth, but eventually became a naturalized American entertainer. (2) The title sequence performed by comedian, Weird Al Yankovic, was a spoof on the James Bond movie, 'Thunderball'. (3) Nicollette Sheridan was born in WorthingSussex, England, and is the daughter of actress, Sally Sheridan. (4) The Church in this flick is called 'Our Lady Who Never Had a Pickle', and this was going to be the name of the hospital that O.J. Simpson's character went to in the other Leslie Nielson comedy, 'The Naked Gun'. (5) Andy Griffith's early career began when he was a monologist, which was a profession which entailed someone to present speeches for a living. (6) This was the first in a long line of film-parodies devised by the directing / screenwriting team of Jason and Aaron Seltzer. 'Epic Movie' being one of them [click here for review]. (7) At one time Elizabeth Hurley was going to be the female lead. (8) Charles Durning starred in one of my all time favourite crime-dramas, 'Dog Day Afternoon' [click here for review]. (9) In his career, Leslie appeared in over one hundred films and one thousand television programs, portraying more than 200 different characters. (10) This film was slated by the critiques, and only received a 6% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 31 reviews.

Marcia Gay Harden in Spy Hard

Overall, I find that 'Spy Hard' a film very much like its name. Easy to pronounce. Centered on popular references. Not very funny. And is only saved by those people in front of the camera and not those behind it. Now I wished that I could be more complementary about this project -- honestly I do -- because I am a big fan of both Leslie and Charles' work. Still, I have to be honest, don't I chaps?

Can you smell eggs?