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Rita Kempley - Style section, "Nielsen can't overcome the lousy material."

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'Spy Hard'

Leslie Nielsen plays Dick Steele, a retired spy who is reactivated when an old nemesis threatens world domination. General Rancor (Andy Griffith) is feeling megalomaniacal again and Steele is the only man capable of foiling the madman.
-- Rita Kempley
Rated PG-13

Director: Rick Freidberg
Cast: Leslie Nielsen; Nicolette Sheridan;
Andy Griffith; Charles Durning;
Marcia Gay Harden; Barry Bostwick;
Weird Al Yankovic
Running Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
Filmographies: Leslie Nielsen; Andy Griffith;
Charles Durning

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'Spy Hard': 007 Reduced to Zero

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
May 24, 1996

"Spy Hard," a creaky parody starring aging zany Leslie Nielsen, aims to take the starch out of James Bond's collar. Never mind that the smutty, high-tech 007 capers already wink at the conventions of the bikini-clad, gizmo-strewn genre. If the martini is shaken, not stirred, why beat it to death with a swizzle stick?

Nielsen brings his usual poker-faced nincompoopery to the part of Dick Steele, a retired super spook who is reactivated when an old nemesis threatens world domination. General Rancor (Andy Griffith), armless after an altercation with Steele 15 years earlier, is feeling megalomaniacal again. Of course, Steele-a k a Agent WD-40-is the only man capable of foiling the madman.

The picture opens with plenty of promise: "Weird Al" Yankovic performs an inspired spoof of Bondian opening credits, complete with a bombastic "Spy Hard" theme song and the requisite bevy of silhouetted bombshells. Nielsen earns a few giggles with his big entrance and later on his even bigger belly, but he can't overcome the lousy material.

Rick Friedberg, whose son Jason and his college roommate wrote the story, directed this nepotistic atrocity-a reunion for him and Nielsen, who collaborated on two golf videos and a series of Dollar Rent-A-Car commercials for TV. Now, those were some real thigh-slappers.

Spy Hard is rated PG-13 for sexual innuendo and profanity.

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