Hot Shots! (1991) starring Charlie Sheen, Cary Elwes, Valeria Golino, Lloyd Bridges, Kevin Dunn, Jon Cryer, William O'Leary directed by Jim Abrahams Movie Review

Hot Shots! (1991)   4/54/54/54/54/5

Charlie Sheen as Lt. Topper Harley in Hot Shots!

Topper Gun

Spoof movies must be some of the simplest movies to make, going by the number which get made and they must turn a reasonable profit as well. But whilst they may be easy to make, making them half good seems to be another matter especially when watching some of the more recent spoof movies which rely solely on juvenile gags to try and garner laughs. As such when you watch "Hot Shots!" it really hammers home not only how poor the more recent spoof movies are but how good as a movie it is.

Following his dismissal from the navy, ace fighter pilot Topper Harley (Charlie Sheen - Men at Work) has chosen to live life amongst the Native Indians. But he finds drawn back in to service when Lt. Cmdr. James Block (Kevin Dunn) asks him to return to be part of "Sleepy Weasel" a top secret mission. The only trouble is that Topper is haunted by what happened to his father Buzz and when ever he hears his father's name he flips out, not only making him a danger in the skies but also disliked by his fellow pilots especially Lt. Kent Gregory (Cary Elwes) who is also his rival when it comes to the affections of psychiatrist Ramada Thompson (Valeria Golino - Rain Man).

Valeria Golino and Charlie Sheen in Hot Shots!

So as a spoof movie "Hot Shots!" basically takes on "Top Gun" with a story of an ace pilot who is prone to flipping out. And as such we get plenty of comedy built around various scenes and character in "Top Gun" from flying stunts, character names and individual quirks. It's because the basis of the movie is built on spoofing "Top Gun" that whilst there are plenty of different jokes it does have a familiar and funny storyline to view.

But then we get those other movies which get drawn into the mix and so we get a touch of "Dances With Wolves", a slice of "Deer Hunter" and a great spoof on the food eating scene from "9 and a Half weeks". But because all these scenes and elements from other movies are adapted to fit in with the characters it feels like part of the storyline rather than just a funny gag thrown in because someone thought a joke was funny. You could say there is even intelligence to this because the humour flows so naturally and constantly making you laugh.

But then there is even more humour built around individual characters be it Adm. Thomas 'Tug' Benson whose body is full of metal thanks to war or Jim 'Wash Out' Pfaffenbach whose eye sight is terrible. I hate to be repetitive but compared to modern spoof movies all of this humour ends up being clever because it all ties in to the story. And do you know what I can't remember one body noise joke in the entire movie and the closest it comes to a sex gag is the spoof of "9 and a Half weeks".

And whilst all the writing is top notch the acting is just as good because everyone delivers their characters with comical sincerity. And by that I mean everyone be it Charlie Sheen, Carl Elwes or John Cryer they all have this comical look on their faces whilst playing it straight and it makes every joke work. Plus of course there is the wonderfully talented Lloyd Bridges who steals every single scene as Tug Benson and his war riddled body and empty brain.

What this all boils down to is that not only does "Hot Shots!" show how a spoof movie should be made but even now over 20 years after it was released is as funny as ever. It really highlights the difference between intelligent humour and what passes for humour in modern spoof movies.