Hot Shots 1991 Movie Scene Charlie Sheen as Topper Harley wearing sun glasses and a leather jacket just like Tom Cruise in Top Gun

Hot Shots! [1991]

Hot Shots! is the first parody movie I have ever seen and it will always have a special place in my heart. I think I might’ve watched Airplane! a bit earlier but I didn’t fully understand the concept. Having seen Top Gun, a movie Hot Shots! is parodying, I could finally enjoy this movie properly. However, if you haven’t seen that hugely popular Tom Cruise vehicle, it really doesn’t matter. Mostly because this movie is actually having fun with genre tropes and stereotypes you’ve seen in countless other movies. From the painfully obvious destinies of certain characters to our hero’s romantic subplot, everything was intelligently twisted into a gag.

Oddly enough, Hot Shots! is actually also a pretty decent action movie. Sure, it’s over-the-top but so are all the “regular” action movies of the eighties. Not only do we get a hefty amount of aerial footage but there will also be a lot of physical comedy and slapstick. It’s so funny that I almost forgot to tell you what this movie is actually about. We will be following Topper Harley, a young fighter pilot who just became the latest member of a super-secret mission Operation Sleepy Weasel. He’s one of the best pilots in the army but Topper is also struggling with mental health issues. In the background, scheming military-industrial complex guys and top officials are cooking a plan of their own.

As you can notice, Hot Shots! is not your usual brainless parody movie as it’s calling out not just the military but also the US government. Additionally, it’s not just making fun of Top Gun but also 9½ Weeks, Rocky, and Superman among others. It’s coming to us from Jim Abrahams, a member of the ZAZ team along with David Zucker and Jerry Zucker. This trio brought us not just the above-mentioned Airplane! but also The Naked Gun, Mafia!, and High School High. So, if you’re looking for more similar parody movies, just take your pick. If I compare them to the modern releases, they’re a bit slower and more immersive.

They let the audience get a feel for a scene or a character. And, of course, nothing is off the table and everything will be made fun of. Just to be perfectly clear, Hot Shots! is still a fast-paced comedy offering almost non-stop laughs. I think it’s a good idea to revisit it because we just got the new Top Gun sequel. And while that’s a barely watchable nostalgia porn, the original is incredibly cheesy. You can actually watch it as a movie so bad that it’s good. Also, did you know that Hot Shots! features a character that’s very similar to Joe Biden? Yes, it is the year of our lord Cthulhu 2024 and two old white men are about to enter a presidential race.

And one of them is a bit more accident-prone than the other. So, just pay attention to Lloyd Bridges who plays Admiral Benson and his scenes as they’re a carbon copy of Biden’s real-world blunders. Speaking of the cast, in the lead role we have Charlie Sheen giving a pitch-perfect performance. I think the man finally found his genre. Stunningly gorgeous Valeria Golino plays his love interest Ramada. Oh boy, did young Rabbit think about that fridge sex scene with her or what? And I’m not going to clarify what I mean by a fridge sex scene, I’ll just add that it involves food.

The piano scene was also quite epic, I have to add. Apart from them, I also have to mention Jon Cryer and Kevin Dunn who were also great. Oddly enough, more than 10 years later Cryer and Sheen would go on to star in Two and a Half Men. Finally, you should know that the sequel to this movie, Hot Shots! Part Deux is just as good as this one. You might even argue it’s better in some respects. However, it follows a different action hero, a certain John Rambo, and his little-known military exploits.

Director: Jim Abrahams

Writers: Jim Abrahams, Pat Proft

Cast: Charlie Sheen, Valeria Golino, Cary Elwes, Lloyd Bridges, Kevin Dunn, Jon Cryer, William O’Leary

Fun Facts: Hot Shots! used real fighter airplanes, the US team was flying Folland Fo-145 Gnats while the enemies were flying Northrop T-38 Talon, both of which are basically trainer airplanes.


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