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Hot Shots! (film)

Jim Abrahams (Airplane!) directs this Top Gun parody starring Charlie Sheen, Cary Elwes, Lloyd Bridges, Jon Cryer, Kevin Dunn, and Valeria Golino. This was made back in the days when parody films were actually smart and clever, before it devolved into shit like Epic Movie and Vampires Suck. You have to respect the source material if you’re going to make a funny parody. You can’t just slap scenes and gags together to lengthen the film’s running time.

Hot Shots! actually has a plot. Topper Harley (Charlie Sheen) is a top Navy pilot with some daddy issues. He’s a natural pilot but is self-destructive, something that his therapist/love interest (Valeria Golino) tries to help him with. Cary Elwes plays a rival pilot feuding with Topper. His future Two and a Half Men co-star Jon Cryer also plays a fellow pilot and Kristy Swanson walks around in a bra, which is nice.

Even though this is a parody, it’s still a pretty solid film. It has a real plot, the characters actually develop, and the end result is an 83% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Compare that to the 2% and 4% rating for Epic Movie and Vampires Suck. There is a joke or a gag every few seconds and most of them are hysterical. But there is also continuity to the jokes. When Lloyd Bridges spits pudding on Kevin Dunn’s face, the pudding stays on his face until he wipes it away. There is a Chihuahua that has the unfortunate habit of getting sat on. The funniest jokes are reoccurring ones.

Charlie Sheen carries the picture. He’s kind of like a younger Leslie Nielsen: they are both comedic actors, but they aren’t really comedians. They both have a deadpan delivery while doing the absurd. Hot Shots! isn’t as funny as Airplane!, but that’s a tough act to follow.

Critically Rated at 12/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Top Gun

If you haven’t seen Top Gun, you have not lived. Tom Cruise stars as Maverick, a renegade Navy pilot who gets recruited to the elusive Top Gun program, where the best of the best compete to be the best. Ridley Scott’s younger brother Tony Scott directs this classic action film. Ridley Scott may be a genius, but Tony has some pretty good action films under his belt. Top Gun is probably his best.

Maverick (Tom Cruise) is a natural pilot, but is impulsive and has some daddy issues. His dad was also a pilot, but his plane went down under some shady circumstances, and Maverick has to deal with his father’s tainted legacy. Maverick and his wingman Goose (Anthony Edwards) fly recklessly, but get the job done. Despite some reservations, Maverick gets a chance to prove himself as one of the best Naval Aviators.

Maverick and Goose face some fierce competition, but their main rivals are soon revealed to be Iceman (Val Kilmer) and his wingman Slider. Iceman is the best pilot, not because he is naturally gifted, but because he works hard to be the best. He doesn’t like the way Maverick flies, because Maverick doesn’t fly safe, and he doesn’t want to work as a team. Iceman is made out to be the villain. Iceman should be the hero. He trains and studies and strives to do well, he does the right thing, and he looks out for the team. He calls Maverick out for being a maverick and he gets shat on. You can’t look out for yourself in the military, you endanger everyone else.

No matter how arrogant Maverick is, no matter how brash and stuck up, he is still a gifted pilot, and so everyone bends over backwards for him. Even though Charlie (Kelly McGillis) repeatedly stresses that she can’t date him because it wouldn’t be professional, she ends up spreading her legs. Even though Maverick kills his best friend and wingman Goose, he still gets more chances to prove himself.

He struggles a bit, and then regains his confidence, just in time to shoot down some real enemy MiGs and save the day. And then gets the girl at the end. Hurray for cliché Hollywood endings.

Top Gun was made in a different time. Back then there was no CG… if you saw a couple of jets doing some crazy cool maneuvers, you knew that shit was real. I know Tom Cruise isn’t flying an F-14, but some guy is, and that guy is a bad ass.

Every ‘80s movie needs a hit soundtrack. And the Top Gun soundtrack is epic. Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins is one of the cheesiest macho songs ever. Berlin’s Take My Breath Away is an awesome and awkward love song. There might have been a few more songs on the soundtrack. None of them matter.

No movie about military life is complete without a homoerotic beach volleyball scene. Maverick knows that he has a date that night, with a really hot instructor nonetheless, but playing shirtless volleyball with the boys is a little more important apparently.

Top Gun is one of those action films that defines a decade. It’s like Star Wars, if you haven’t seen it, you are weird. Real planes doing real stunts means real excitement. Is anyone else slightly distracted by Tom Cruise’s unibrow?

Critically Rated at 14/17

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