Monday, May 13, 2019

Movie Review: "Hot Shots!" (1991)

Director: Jim Abrahams
Year: 1991
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 24 minutes

A skilled fighter pilot haunted by the memory of his father's failure is recruited to lead a mission into Iraq in the hopes that his instability will lead to abject failure and allow a weapons manufacturer to receive a big contract for new fighter jets.

Hot Shots 1991 movie still Charlie Sheen Cary Elwes
"He's the type that could end up killing every man in this outfit." (Image Source)
Ahhh, Charlie Sheen before all of the tiger's blood and Adonis DNA got to his brain. "Hot Shots!" is directed by Jim Abrahams, who directed films like "Airplane!" (1980), "Top Secret!" (1984), and "Ruthless People" (1986). He also helped write the screenplay along with Pat Proft, who worked on such comedies as "Police Academy" (1981) and "The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!" (1988). It seems Abrahams is usually excited about their work together since many of their titles end with an exclamation point! The story revolves around a talented pilot named Topper Harley (Charlie Sheen), who has been living on a Native America reservation due to being troubled by a scandal where his father Buzz Harley's (Bill Irwin) actions led to the death of his co-pilot, 'Mailman' (Ryan Stiles). Lt. Commander Block (Kevin Dunn) finds Topper and asks him to join the ongoing conflict in Iraq. What Topper doesn't know is that Block has ulterior motives and recruited Topper not because of his skills, but due to his instability. Block has made a deal with a weapons manufacturer that will guarantee mission failure so that this arms dealer can convince the government to invest in new fighter jets.
Hot Shots 1991 movie still Lloyd Bridges
"Wait a minute, why are you mad at me? He's the one who ate your father." (Image Source)
Spoofs are almost always outrageous, ridiculous, and downright dumb. What separates the good ones from the bad is their ability to make you laugh, and "Hot Shots!" (1991) is all of those things and simultaneously hilarious. This early 90's comedy is mostly a parody of "Top Gun" (1986), but it also offers up a few nods to some other classics like "9 1/2 Weeks" (1986), "An Officer and a Gentleman" (1982), and "The Fabulous Baker Boys" (1989). More often than not when we watch this movie, we find ourselves saying, "wow, that was so stupid," but we're usually laughing when we say it, so that's a win-win in our book. "Hot Shots!" (1991) relies heavily on physical comedy and sight gags, though not all of the humor works. The most consistent source of hilarity comes from Lloyd Bridges's character Admiral Benson, a career military man who has a constant string of physical ailments and an oblivious nature that gets him into some zany situations. Though it's Bridges that shines the brightest, the rest of the cast gets their chance to produce an occasional laugh as well. Charlie Sheen was a very charming actor when he was younger, and he had a terrific knack for sharp, deadpan delivery. He does a great job mimicking a Tom Cruise type of flyboy who thinks his poop doesn't stink. The biggest issue when revisiting a movie like this is how dated many of the references are. "Hot Shots!" (1991) is very much a product of its time, and people who didn't grow up in the 90s and/or aren't familiar with many of the political and cinematic references may not find as much enjoyment in this as those who were born in the 80s and lived through the era.
Hot Shots 1991 movie still Valeria Golino
"What I wouldn't give to be 20 years younger and a woman." (Image Source)
Though it might not be as successful as some of the other 90s spoofs we've seen, "Hot Shots!" (1991) is still worth your time and should be seen at least once for Lloyd Bridges' hilarious performance alone. Some movies are full of silly fun, and this is definitely one of them.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.7/10
RT Rating: 83%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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