Hot Shots! (1991) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

The makers of Hot Shots! have chosen a big juicy target in the lampooning of Top Gun. That film which became a staple of its era, is so gung-ho and idiotic in its appeal that it nearly veers into satire on its own accord. The jokes both visual and oral fly at the screen and nearly everyone scores a laugh, this is one of the best spoof movies of the last 30 yrs. Director Jim Abrahams and his writing partner Pat Proft have obviously studied their source material ad nauseam, not a scene or line is wasted and every conceivable angle to crack wise about has been captured in this very funny movie.

Charlie Sheen, who was ironically offered the lead in Top Gun, is cast as Topper Harley, an ace fighter pilot with a disciplinary problem and some parental issues. Topper is recruited to join a select squad of air jockeys for a top-secret mission. This band of mis-fit brothers is led by their staggeringly incompetent commander (LLyod Bridges) who has so many war injuries that he is rendered useless. Bridges goes the Leslie Nielsen route here, starring in spoofs long after the serious work of their careers’ have been achieved. Just like Nielsen, Bridges is an ace at playing the role straight and the film wouldn’t be as successful without his presence.

Harley’s main adversary is a smug and ultra-vain golden-boy (Cary Elwes), who takes an immediate disliking to the reckless Topper. The men work together on a mission to bomb Saddam’s place in Iraq, while privately warring with each other for the affection of a beautiful psychiatrist played by Valeria Golino. The plot is not the reason audiences see a spoof. The question is; Does the movie reward my time with laughs? In the case of Hot Shots! your time is well-spent. Stay through the closing credits for some buried treasures within the scroll.

Director: Jim Abrahams
Stars: Charlie Sheen, Cary Elwes, Valeria Golino

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