Sunday, 19 April 2015

Hot Shots! (1991)





















Back in 1986 there was a movie called 'Top Gun', you might have heard of it, it did quite well. During casting the young Charles Sheen was considered for the main role in the movie (later taken by Cruise), his brother Emilio turned down the role! Well later on down the line we got this spoof which really does seem like Sheen's late audition for the real deal. Its odd because in a way you could actually see him in the role of Maverick, its not a stretch, and here you do feel he's making the best of it to show us all just that (my thoughts).

There have been many spoofs over the years but this franchise is generally considered to be one of the best alongside 'The Naked Gun' trilogy. Its of course no surprise that all the best spoofs have been written and directed (one or the other) by Jim Abrahams, the dude has a knack. Everyone knows the drill here, you can tell from the movie logo alone, as said the film sends up 'Top Gun' from start to finish whilst including the odd pot shots at various other movies. The difference with this movie unlike newer spoofs was the fact this actually had a proper story and mainly parodied one movie, it wasn't just a collection of silly skits.

The plot isn't entirely scene for scene the same as that Scott movie though, it differs of course but in general much is the same right down to the main soundtrack. Sheen plays the dark haired, good looking, brash young pilot Topper, his arch nemesis is the blonde haired, good looking, by the books Kent (Elwes), and they are both after the frizzy haired Ramada (Golino). I never really understood how Golino got this part because she isn't much of a looker in my view but hey. Other pilots are a cliched bunch highlighted by Jon Cryer as the near blind Pfaffenbach (he has wall-eye vision) but the stand out performer for the movie has to be Lloyd Bridges as Tug Benson. This guy nailed every scene he's in, he clearly knew how to perform comedy and it shows, his visual skills were just as good as his verbal skills. Bridges has to be one of the two best spoof comedy actors ever, the other being Leslie Nielsen.

The best thing about these movies was obviously the humour, some of it was childish, some of it clever and witty, yet at times some was also surprisingly adult. But it wasn't just the easy visual gags that made this hilariously smart, it was the hidden gems, the tiny visual nods n winks that you may have missed the first time around. The film has many (sort of) secret Easter eggs strewn throughout which some folks will pick up and others might not, depending on your country of origin and how much of a movie buff you are. Even now I can read about this flick and find things out I never knew. Of course other than that there are the blatant movie parodies and cheap slapstick gags that cater for all ages, some being very good with excellent levels of detail (Rocky sequence), others just being dumb and maybe even somewhat cringeworthy these days (Superman sequence).

Like most spoofs the movie is a product of its time with many gags, visual or otherwise, referencing issues of the time or current pop culture (of the time). Although this does still work to a degree it has waned over time which is to be expected. Its now very odd to think that Saddam Hussein was once such a threat and iconic figure...so to speak. So much time has passed since the 90's and the Gulf War it felt strange watching a movie where Saddam was the villain and parodied, not sure why but I guess because it doesn't seem that long ago and I was a young teen at the time. Its only watching now you realise...holy hummus! it was along time ago! Christ I'm old!

By the predictable finale the movie has well established itself as a solid spoof with some classic moments of comedy no doubt. The jet fighter aerial sequences are a clear montage of real footage, other movie footage and some highly dubious model work, but the film embraces the cheesiness with open arms. At no point does the movie try for spectacular effects, its all hokey as hell and looks like a cartoon, although there are some neat tricks to be seen. Personally I enjoy segments of this, some stuff works really well, others don't, back in the day I kinda felt the same truth be told. For me the movie heavily depended on the brilliance of Bridges' rubber-faced versatility and the small hints of Cryer, but overall its still a highly accurate spoof of the hefty testosterone infused 80's.

'you risked the lives of some damn fine pilots...and that's my job'

6/10