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Hot Shots! Part Deux

If the original Hot Shots! was the mother of all movies, its sequel — Hot Shots! Part Deux — might well be considered the aunt of all movies ... or at least the first cousin of Rambo. Picking up about two years after the first film left off, the equally spoofy follow-up finds Navy flyboy Topper Harley (a very buffed-up Charlie Sheen) living in Thailand, cleaning up in the ring as an ultimate fighter (complete with cheerleaders, natch) and trying to get over his lost love, Ramada (Valeria Golino). He comes out of his self-imposed retirement from the service to rescue a handful of hostages from an Iraqi prison camp (his mission is go to in and get the men who went in to get the men who went in to get the hostages in the first place); along the way he has a fling with a beautiful CIA agent (Brenda Bakke), reunites with Ramada, and shoots a bad guy with a chicken. Like its predecessor, Hot Shots! Part Deux serves as a pop culture time capsule of its era: Among the movies and events spoofed (along with Rambo, of course) are Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Basic Instinct, Terminator 2, American Gladiators, President George Bush Sr.'s unfortunate throwing-up-on-a-Japanese-dignitary incident, and America's virulent anti-Saddam Hussein sentiment. And that's just the early '90s stuff; the film also works in references to (and rip-offs of) Casablanca, Lady and the Tramp, The Godfather, Star Wars, Sea Hunt, and The Wizard of Oz. It's a mixed success — the "classic" allusions are funny, but they're not that original, and the dated stuff is exactly that (in a post-September 11 world, the Middle Eastern jokes seem particularly less lighthearted). Better by far are the unexpected laughs: Sheen crossing paths with his real-life father, Martin (in full Apocalypse Now mode) in the middle of a river, Golino recognizing the fact that she looks like tennis star Gabriela Sabatini, and Lloyd Bridges' non sequiturs as the cheerfully bonkers President Benson. Luckily there are enough of those in the movie to make up for many of the weaker spots. Hot Shots! Part Deux might not quite be up to Airplane! standards, but it kicks Jane Austen's Mafia's ass. Fox's DVD offers an anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) from a print that has held up well, and the Dolby 2.0 Surround audio is clear (other options include French and Spanish stereo tracks and English and Spanish subtitles). Filed under "extras" are trailers (for Deux and other "Fox Flix") and two "making-of" featurettes — the four-minute "Early Awareness" and the 22-minute "An Adventure in Filmmaking" (the latter is narrated in Spanish, a fact that isn't mentioned anywhere on the disc or its packaging). Keep-case.
—Betsy Bozdech

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