The picture that will test the durability of Leslie Nielsen’s lowbrow franchise, Spy Hard sticks closely to the Naked Gun formula. Not only is the formula itself wearing thin, but the gags themselves feel recycled.
Although the four screenwriters (including director Rich Friedberg) had the sense to include spoofs of Mission Impossible and Speed , they more often fall back on targets so tired they could be outtakes from previous Naked Gun scripts.
Title notwithstanding, the film is less a spoof of the ripe-for-parody Die Hard-style actioners than of the timeworn James Bonders (by way of Get Smart). Nielsen, ever reliable even when his material isn’t, stars as Dick Steele, Agent WD-40. He’s called out of retirement to hunt for his old nemesis, the evil Gen. Rancor (Andy Griffith), an armless madman with plans for global takeover. Joining Steele through various misadventures is agent Veronique Ukrinsky (Nicolette Sheridan), the beautiful love interest/sidekick.
Trying hard is Charles Durning as the Agency Director with a fondness for disguising himself as office furniture, Marcia Gay Harden as the lustful secretary Miss Cheevus, Barry Bostwick (with an unexplained Kennedy accent) as another agent and Carlos Lauchu as Steele’s undercover chauffeur.
‘Weird Al’ Yankovic appears in (and wrote) the opening title sequence, a ‘Goldfinger’ song parody that starts OK but takes too long to pay off.