Monday, August 22, 2011

Loaded Weapon 1 - a toupological analysis (and a poll result).

Loaded Weapon 1 is a 1993 comedy movie pretty much done in the vain of the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker (and writer Pat Proft) style of comedy best exemplified by 1980's Airplane! and 1988's The Naked Gun (though technically Weapon is of the National Lampoon ilk).

Whereas some of the movies that can be considered spin-offs from these two pieces of iconic cinema featured some combination of these four figures (such as 1991's Hot Shots! or 1998's Wrongfully Accused), in the case of Loaded Weapon 1, these individuals are nowhere to be found. Instead, others do their best to imitate a very particular style of humor.

Leslie Nielsen in The Naked Gun.

The movie stars Emilio Estevez and Samuel L. Jackson and is co-written (along with two other writers who never seemed to have worked on a motion picture again) and directed by Police Academy 3 and 4 writer Gene Quintano. Several notable figures makes cameos in the movie including Bruce Willis, Charlie Sheen (brother of Emilio), Whoopi Goldberg, F. Murray Abraham and James Doohan, alias Scotty from Star Trek. William Shatner co-stars as the villainous General Mortars.

The plot (such as there is one) goes as follows...

A trigger-happy, somewhat unstable narcotics agent Jack Colt (Estevez)... teamed up with his no-nonsense colleague Wes Luger (Jackson)...

...after Luger's partner (Goldberg) is killed by crooks seeking a microfilm in her possession that has the formula for turning cocaine into Wilderness Girl cookies.

The pair then travels to a secure mental institution to talk with Dr. Harold Leacher (Abraham) who informs them that the case involves one General Mortars (Shatner), who happened to be Colt's commanding officer during the Vietnam War.

Jackson is unconvinced, while Colt still bears the scars of losing his dog.

Meanwhile, General Mortars and his goons are trying their hardest to recover the microfilm and carry out their plot of spreading cocaine via the cookies.

The cop duo continue their hunt for Mortars... Colt falls for the head of the Wilderness Girls...

Is she a villain too or will she help the cops?

A showdown is guaranteed with Mortars holed up in the cookie factory.

All the while...

...numerous parodies, "jokes" and "laughs" continue throughout.

So what to make of all of this? Oh, dear...! The plot could not be any more wafer-thin, containing about as many twists and turns as a well-built Roman road. The role of the missing microfilm, which is apparently needed to make the cookies - or is it? - or what the hell is going on? - is just one example of the story's shoddy, ultra-light construction.

The performances, in particular Emilio Estevez, are pretty dreadful and entirely ill-suited to the kind of earnestly silly and stupidly sophisticated tone required to pull off this kind of humor.

But far more importantly, this movie just isn't funny. Most of the jokes are of the roll-your-eyes variety rather than of the laugh-out-loud kind. The fault lies with an uninspired script and an atrociously poor sense of comic timing from director Quintano, who telegraphs and under-paces even potentially funny humor, pauses and all, to the point of tedium.

From the legendary 1982 TV series Police Squad! to the disastrous An American Carol (2008), which essentially served as a nail in the coffin for this particular sub-genre of comedy, one can find both amusing hits (such as the Naked Gun sequels) and complete disasters. Loaded Weapon 1 contains a couple of laughs, with those spotting the various film parodies likely to be a little more amused, but all in all, this movie definitely ranks in the "complete disasters" category.

The various celebrities who have cameos in Loaded Weapon 1 just end up looking like C-listers in need of a career lift or some money - they just seem cheapened...

"Why the hell am I in this movie?!"

...and even humiliated:

Career wise, for Bill Shatner too the mid-90s were something of a "Lost Years 2"; but Shatnerologists will know that the actor has rarely, if ever, been averse to partaking in a bad movie!

Let's move swiftly to the hair...

While as a movie, Loaded Weapon 1 pretty much lacks any merit, as a toupological case study, the reverse is very much the case. What we have here is a pretty remarkable case of an outlier toupee; a "Denny Katz" years before that style was fully adopted.

In 1992, Bill Shatner's hair looked like this:

In 1994, it still was fully in the "TJ Curly" mold (although perhaps from here on in, the subtle straightening that would ultimately morph into the "Denny" began):

Thus, 1993 brought us a definite outlier - shorter, straighter and less thick:

Why? Did the producers do the unthinkable and suggest different hair for the role? Or did Bill Shatner, perhaps sensing the weakness of the script, decide it was crucial for his hair to try and save this movie?

Did this bring about Bill Shatner's first meeting with Ed Katz?

But there's more yet.

Not only does the movie contain a new hairstyle, but it also features wet hair, hair fanning and even hair combing!

It's all pretty astonishing to see...

...and helps to turn an otherwise forgettable movie into an unforgettable one!

Loaded Weapon 1 is available on DVD. Worth watching only for Bill Shatner's hair.

Finally, to our very next full toupological analysis. We really had no idea beforehand which Star Trek movie you would favor. But in the end, you spoke clearly and decisively (52%). It will be Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Thanks for voting and our team is beginning its work!


  1. Thr only thing "disastrous" about An American Carol is that it was a film made by conservatives and you're nothing but a bitter flaming liberal who cannot help but let his own left-wing political observations slip through. Oh, and this comment will be reposted once you delete it as I'm sure you will in true democrat 'free speech as long as it agrees with you' fashion. Loser

  2. I disagree. As a conservative, I found American Carol to be limp, lifeless, and far too obvious in its comedic targets. I had no problem with its politics; it just wasn't very funny.

    Kind of like Loaded Weapon 1, which should have been a lot funnier than it was.

  3. Shatner's messed up damp toupee here after he stuck his face in the fishtank looks a bit like the messed up Jim Kirk lace after one of Kirk's fights!

  4. Loaded Weapon 1 is pretty lame, but it has its moments.
    I've never watched An American Carol, and I've never seen Shatner's Toupee as a political blog. I really hope "Anonymous" won't spam the comments section again. Cheers!

  5. Thanks for your comments. To address a point that has been raised a few times - we mostly strive to engage in objective empirical analysis of toupological data.

    But there are times when we draw subjective conclusions or make subjective assessments or commentaries (particularly in our reviews of movies and TV projects).

    We always welcome civil discussion, debate and disagreement. Your input (including when you think we've made a wrong call on any point) is what makes this project worthwhile for all of our staff!

    Thanks! -ST

  6. Ratty Lost Years PieceAugust 25, 2011 at 12:31 AM

    "Did this bring about Bill Shatner's first meeting with Ed Katz? "

    While LW1 could be the first on-screen sighting of the "Denny Katz" piece, several "pieces" of circumstantial evidence suggest that the Phase-II TJ Curly was the first Katz piece. I've listed some facts discovered during my armchair toupology.

    As Jason described in "Down Under (the toupee!), the DK is a full-head system. This coincides with the P-II TJ analyzed toupologically in:

    This curly toupee was worn through the early 1990's and is very similar to a style worn by Burt Reynolds -

    In 1996, after an acrimonious divorce with Loni Anderson, Burt filed for bankruptcy. The public filling included a $121k debt to Ed Katz. -

    Shatner's hair at the time was very similar to Burt's. Current comparisons show an ongoing similarity to Burt's hair and the DK:

    While there is no direct evidence, the parallel evolution of the actors' styles is interesting. One actor, a known-toupee wearer, the other, a known-toupee wearer in denial, with oddly similar hair. The implication is sufficient to warrant further investigation of the P-II TJ as the original Katz piece for Shatner.

  7. Anyone willing to scour Burt Reynolds' bankruptcy records for toupological purposes deserves a gold star! Well done, Ratty Lost Years Piece!

    Prior to the Katz discovery, this site's position was that Shatner had hair plugs, so his "no, it isn't a toupee" statement received a "mostly true" rating from the Shat-No-Meter. (

    Given the discovery of Burt Reynolds' bankruptcy records and the likelihood of Katzian intervention, isn't it time to revisit that ruling?

  8. @Ratty Lost Years Piece - some very interesting ideas there, thanks! We definitely feel that an analysis of the often parallel toupological exploits of Bill Shatner and Burt Reynolds is worthy of a future analysis. That as well as a look at the way that the TJ slowly morphed into the Denny, apparently over a number of years.

    @Stallion Cornell - you are quite right. We shall get on that and update!

    Thanks! -ST

  9. Maybe Shatner wanted to transition to a "straighter" toup style in 1993, but had to transition back to something like the modified-TJ for "Star Trek: Generations" so he wouldn't look too jarringly different from Star Trek 6? Also, from the second-to-last pic, this parted-hair toup looks like it may not extend all the way down to the sides like the TJ Curly Stage II - it may have been easier to film this scene with this toup style. (It isn't quite a Denny Katz because the scalp isn't visible. It's just a more conventional parted-hair toup.)

    In any case, there seems to be a sequence of toups with (non-monotonically) increasingly grayness and straightness that followed "Star Trek 5". It may not be accurate to call them all "T J Curly", since they seem to all constitute a transitional period.

  10. shats own real syrupAugust 29, 2011 at 11:22 AM

    its nice to see the shat in a non-curly tj (dead rat stuck on his head) toup. It really is the only thing of any real interest, in a movie thats as dull as dishwater. And as amazing, as it seems, there have been toups around for years, that you can comb or swin in! Now a slight plea, to shat toup blog.....please.....please can when are we gonna, get a full toup look at tos, i have recently brought the 2nd series and even on my little 20 year old, non hd tv i could still see with ease all the toup-ups, if you play the fight, right near the end of "obsession" i am sure, the top of the toup, flys up for a moment, but this needs to be watched in hd and very slow the whole 3 series could be a minefield of toup-ups.

  11. Matthew BlanchetteAugust 31, 2011 at 3:11 AM

    I want to thank the Toupological Society for looking at Loaded Weapon 1; it came a lot sooner than I'd expected... :-)

  12. My theory is that he was wearing a different wig (or toupee) in order to look more like the actor and character he was parodying—Mitch Ryan as the General in Lethal Weapon.

    Failing that, the filmmakers may have just wanted a shorter, more military look for General Mortars.

  13. PS: As Loaded Weapon’s equivalent to Lethal Weapon’s Mr. Joshua, Tim Curry looks a lot like Jonathan Frakes!

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