For someone who inspired nothing but pants-pissing laughter in me since the ripe age of 4 (my age of 4, when he was 4 they didn't have TVs yet), it is odd to associate this doddering coot with anything but squeals of glee and tears driven from the hilarity gland.
As a child, I watched the Naked Gun movies over and over again. Ditto for Airplane. And Dracula: Dead and Loving It. Sure, I watched the Hot Shot movies too, but those weren't as funny, due to too little Leslie Nielsen (ie: no Leslie Nielsen) and too much Charlie Sheen (ie: any Charlie Sheen whatsoever).
Sidenote: remember when those laugh-a-second movies existed? Where are those today? And don't tell me it's those cinematic poop piles like "Action Movie" and "Date Movie" or I'll have you incarcerated for life in solitary.
Leslie Nielsen, for those of you who don't recognize his name on sight, was the oldest man alive who could pull off physical comedy. Seriously. He always looked old. I am shocked to hear he died at 84, because I'm pretty sure I assumed he was 84 twenty years ago when I first began watching his movies. Anyway, he often played a hardboiled detective (or hardboiled anything, really) who ended up in wacky situations. He was the original shameless comedian: ready to embarrass himself and look like an idiot with no hesitation. Folks like Will Ferrell who are ready to run around naked, their jiggly parts a-jiggling, took their notes from this man. Play the fool, and you will be loved.
And Leslie, my friends, was loved.
Anyway, I'm going to go weep a bit in private while spending my day clicking around YouTube. It's like people knew Leslie was at death's door, since they basically all put up Leslie tribute clips LAST YEAR. Here's one.
And for all of you youngins who were born after Leslie's best work, watch this video, and then Netflix (or steal, or put on your new-fangled iPhones) some of the movies listed over on his IMDB profile.
- Justin Luke