Hot Shots! (1991)

26 Mar


Smith’s Verdict: ***

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

Now here’s something strange—we have a parody film called “Hot Shots!” that mostly lampoons elements from a movie I didn’t like, which was “Top Gun,” and I liked this parody. Weird, how I’d prefer this ridiculous but often very funny film over the movie it borrows elements from, which had great-looking dogfights, but a boring human story. Maybe the filmmakers of “Hot Shots!” knew that some people felt that way, and made fun of that material and more. But whatever they did, it worked for me.

Charlie Sheen plays (and plays with) the Tom Cruise role in “Top Gun” for “Hot Shots!” and his poker face makes him right for the role of Topper Harley. Whenever people look at him, he just likes to show how tough he is by tightening his lip and keeping his eyes open. But when he isn’t trying to act tough, he’s just a macho buffoon, like he’s supposed to be in a film that is like films such as “Airplane,” “Naked Gun,” and not to mention “Top Secret.” These films are funny by giving us silly humor that makes us laugh rather than roll our eyes. In fact, some of the filmmakers of this film also made “Airplane” and the “Naked Gun” movies. You can’t stop yourself from laughing at a good joke and there are plenty in “Hot Shots!”—most notably, a scene in the beginning of the film in which Sheen, playing a young test pilot, passes by an attractive woman on horseback on his way to the air base and he copies her movements on his own motorcycle. That is truly hilarious and we would expect him to bump into a tree branch or fall off or run into that old comedy cliché of someone being distracted and then running into something, killing the infatuation. But he doesn’t and thank goodness he doesn’t—that joke of running into something while distracted is too old to be funny anymore.

Another good running gag is the vision of one of the test pilots, played by Jon Cryer—his vision is distorted by a bad case of “wall-eye.” He keeps missing something he reaches for.

That is all I wish to say about this movie, other than the fact that I laughed a lot during this movie. There are some parody scenes that aren’t that funny, but the funniest moments are when we’re caught by surprise. There are plenty of those moments in “Hot Shots!” We also get strong supporting, comedic work by Lloyd Bridges and Cary Elwes, not to mention as much work as we can get in a movie like this from beautiful Italian actress Valeria Golino as the love interest. But like I said, Charlie Sheen’s poker face will make you laugh.

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