According to The New York Times review:
When Agent WD-40 (Leslie Nielsen), a k a Dick Steele, receives an assignment on a tape programmed to self-destruct within three seconds, it doesn’t extinguish itself in a discreet little fizzle but sets off a thunderous blast that blows up the helicopter in which Mr. T is piloting him to a top-secret operation. So begins “Spy Hard,” the anything-goes spoof of espionage movies that arrives just in time to cleanse the palate from the pseudo-serious action-adventure of “Mission Impossible.”
This promising opening sequence may tip its cap to “Mission Impossible,” but the main objects of parody are James Bond movies with their slithery babes, fantastic weapons and exotic tropical settings. “Spy Hard” is never funnier than during its opening credit sequence in which Weird Al Yankovic bellows his parody of the brassy theme song from “Goldfinger,” while obese cartoon silhouettes swim across the screen.
Mr. Nielsen, who plays a silver-haired American version of Roger Moore as Bond, brings the same spirit of deadpan comic earnestness to the role that he brought to his intrepid police lieutenant in the “Naked Gun” series. Mr. Nielsen may lose his pants in a movie, but he never loses his dignity. He embodies an unflappable masculine gentility that conceals utter fatuousness and ineptitude. Even in the silliest pratfall, Mr. Nielsen allows just the tiniest glimmer of merriment to twinkle around the edges of his stalwart, purposeful glare.
“Spy Hard,” directed by Rick Friedberg, who collaborated with Mr. Nielsen on a comic instructional video on how to lose at golf, is a much less polished film than the “Naked Gun” movies. Instead of building sustained comic set pieces, it takes a machine-gun approach to humor. Without looking at where it’s aiming, it opens fire and sprays comic bullets in all directions, trusting that a few will hit the bull’s-eye. A few do, but many more don’t.
The problem facing a movie like “Spy Hard” is how to make caricatures out of heroes and villains who were cartoons to begin with.
Some of the movie’s funnier moments are spent imagining that the director of United States Intelligence (Charles Durning) is so nutty he likes to play hide-and-seek with his colleagues by secreting himself in his office furniture. One afternoon, when WD-40 plops down on a brown leather chair, strange sounds begin erupting from below.
The agent’s fiendish nemesis, General Rancor (Andy Griffith, made up to look a little like Stalin), lures WD-40 to his tropical-island lair by holding hostage Barbara Dahl (Stephanie Romanov), the beautiful secret-agent daughter of WD-40’s long-lost sweetheart.
Along the way, he teams up with Veronique Ukrinsky (Nicollette Sheridan), a mysterious international spy with an all-purpose European accent. During their big love scene, he woos her with a ludicrous romantic soliloquy that begins with raindrops and dewdrops and ends with dog and deer droppings.
Around the halfway point, “Spy Hard” begins to run out of ideas and becomes a series of crude, rambunctious parodies of other films.
Poking fun at “Speed,” it has WD-40 finding himself on a runaway city bus driven by Ray Charles. Echoing “True Lies,” the film follows him as he gallops on horseback into a hotel where the horse lands flailing in a swimming pool. “Pulp Fiction,” “Sister Act,” “Home Alone” and, of all things, the bicycle scene from “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” also come in for some ribbing.
The low point comes when two hoods intimidate a tow-headed Macaulay Culkin-like boy genius and shout: “This is for ‘Getting Even With Dad!’ “This is for ‘My Girl!’ This is for ‘My Girl 2!’ ”
When “Spy Hard” abruptly ends after only 81 minutes, you sense that it has used up every last round of available ammunition. It was simply exhausted and couldn’t move another inch.