Wrongfully Accused is a criminally underrated film. Made in 1998, at the tail end of the golden age of movie parodies, it is a hilarious film that pokes fun at The Fugitive, Mission: Impossible, The Usual Suspects, and many other good and bad movies. It’s far from a perfect film, but it definitely warrants a couple viewings to make sure you pick up on all of its subtle (and not so subtle) humor.
I’ll frame my discussion of this film by talking about its six funniest scenes. I’ll include their start times, too, so you can skip right to them, if you like. Let’s get going!
1. The Great Train Escape
This scene closely mirrors its equivalent in The Fugitive. In a silly manner, the bus bringing Ryan Harrison to prison falls off a cliff and lands on a railroad track. Hilarity ensues. Ryan saves everyone in the bus and then jumps to safety. But the train takes on a life of its own and starts chasing him no matter where he runs in the woods. The best part is when he hides behind a tree and takes a moment to catch his breath, but then suddenly the train peeks around the tree and pursues him once more. Who thinks of something like that? It’s both funny and brilliant. (19:44)
2. Fooling John Walsh
After being framed for murder, Ryan is forced to disguise himself to avoid capture. However, just when he thinks he’s in the clear, John Walsh, the host of America’s Most Wanted, shows up and asks him some probing questions. When he comes dangerously close to discovering Ryan’s true identity, Ryan is forced to make up a long, complicated backstory to divert Walsh’s attention. It works and he makes his escape as Walsh looks around and discovers a lot of familiar-sounding names on the walls: Buzz ‘n Frog, Timber Doodle, and Men’s Room. (25:18)
3. Old People on Ice
Old people are rife with comedic potential. I mean, Leslie Nielsen is really showing his age in this movie, but he still manages to pull off a charming, funny performance. But nowhere is this showcased better than in the throwaway gag when Ryan sits down to enjoy his dinner and he flips on the TV showing a commercial for a new show “Old People on Ice.” It’s so cruel yet comedic. Now that’s what I call well-done slapstick. (43:01)
4. Diaper Truck
Ryan jumps into a pile of linens to escape the police. Unfortunately, those linens turn out to be dirty diapers, and he is forced to endure several minutes stuck in a truck full of them. He finally escapes and proceeds to make people pass out, flowers die, and magazines catch fire as he walks in front of them. As a parent of three young children, I can relate. (46:42)
5. Computer Room
This is an amazing parody of the most memorable scene from the 1996 Tom Cruise vehicle Mission: Impossible. Ryan uses his incredible deduction skills to figure out that the login and password of a super-secure computer are, respectively, “login” and “password.” Then he has a conversation with the computer that is worthy of Dave Bowman’s epic “Open the pod bay doors, HAL” dialogue. A great scene from start to finish. (56:37)
6. La Cucaracha Car
If you want to die laughing, this is your scene. The first time I saw this movie, I could not stop laughing during this entire sequence. Ryan has to discreetly follow some bad guys, but the only car he finds unlocked is a jalopy that blasts “La Cucaracha” out of its speakers while hydraulics violently lift and drop the car’s front end again and again. Needless to say, this makes it impossible to keep a low profile. (1:00:15)
A Word About Pat Proft
I would like to note that Pat Proft, this film’s writer, producer, and director is one of the most underrated comedy writers of all time. He deserves a lot of credit for his work co-writing Police Academy, Real Genius, the Naked Gun trilogy, and the Hot Shots! films.
Wrongfully Accused is the only film he ever directed, and he did a good job in that role. His work is not quite on the same level as Jerry and David Zucker or Jim Abrahams, but it’s not bad at all. It’s a shame this movie didn’t do well at the box office because it might have been a nice springboard for Proft to find more work and mature as a writer/director.
Of course, he did co-write The Star Wars Holiday Special and the live-action version of Mr. Magoo, so I can’t hold him completely innocent.
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.
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