[box cover]

Hot Shots!

If you're looking for a time capsule of late '80s pop culture, it doesn't get much better than Hot Shots! Billed as "the mother of all movies," it's primarily a gleeful parody of Jerry Bruckheimer's 1986 jets-and-volleyball fave Top Gun, with healthy doses of Dances With Wolves, 9 1/2 Weeks, and The Fabulous Baker Boys tossed in for good measure (and Superman, Rocky, and Gone With the Wind). Star Charlie Sheen's character — reckless, father-conflicted Navy pilot Topper Harley (also known as "Fuzzy Bunny Feet" in his adopted Native American tribe) — is a dead ringer for Tom Cruise's out-of-control Maverick, while The Princess Bride's Cary Elwes offers a dandified version of Val Kilmer's stoic Iceman. Valeria Golino steps in as the love interest, psychiatrist/equestrienne Ramada; Efrem Zimbalist Jr. is the token villain; and Lloyd Bridges goes cheerfully berserk as the clueless Admiral Benson, a walking collection of war-wounds prone to accidents and non sequiturs (he gets suspicious of crabs, for example, claiming "they work in pairs"). The plot doesn't really matter much — Zimbalist is out to prove the Navy's new jets are inferior to his own and is willing to risk pilots' lives to do so — and like all of the movies in the Jerry Zucker-Jim Abrahams-David Zucker canon, Hot Shots! is about goofy sight-gags, silly lines, and making fun of every movie cliché in sight. Some of it works well (the opening battleship scene is chock full of giggle-worthy moments, and Sheen's deadpan demeanor sells most of his lines), but as directed by Abrahams, Hot Shots! lacks the lightning pace and true wit of, say, Airplane! — the real mother of all (spoof) movies. And unlike Airplane!, which is still hysterical more than two decades after it was released, Hot Shots! relies a bit too much on humor that got dated really quickly. Sure, people get the Top Gun stuff, but The Fabulous Baker Boys? That problem only gets worse in Shots' sequel (Hot Shots! Part Deux) — which is why, while old-school fans will revel in the chance to watch Sheen and company crack wise again, Fox's DVD isn't likely to convert a legion of new ones. That said, if you happen to be one of those old-schoolers, you should enjoy the disc. The anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) is solid, and the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is more than up to par (other options include French and Spanish stereo tracks as well as English and Spanish subtitles). In addition to the usual trailers (for Hot Shots! and some other "Fox Flix"), someone went digging through the archives and found "The Making of an Important Movie," a 25-minute featurette that includes cast/crew interviews and plenty of behind-the-scenes footage. Keep-case.
—Betsy Bozdech

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