[box cover]

Top Secret

The antic comedy team that connived to invent the silly, absurdist classic Airplane! followed up their joke-a-second masterpiece with this amiable 1984 spoof of B-movie espionage thrillers. Val Kilmer stars in Top Secret! as American pop phenomenon Nick Rivers, whose string of skeet-and-surf-themed hit singles catches the attention of the East German government, which invites him to perform at a cultural festival staged as a distraction from a nefarious weapons operation. Effortlessly, Nick attracts trouble in the foreign state and becomes embroiled in the resistance. However, plot is completely peripheral in the films of David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker, who use their narratives as passive skeletons for a generous onslaught of sight-gags, comic reversals, and zany non-sequiturs. Top Secret!, in its zippy 90 minutes, finds time to lampoon Elvis, The Beach Boys, ballet, The Blue Lagoon, Casablanca, and just about every cliché of the World War II genre. While the movie does not spew the gags as fast and furious as Airplane!, many of the jokes are worthy of a good laugh, and ZAZ show a unique and engaging proclivity for crafty visual sleight-of-hand, as well as a playful eye for twisting mundane occurrences into oddball reversals. Kilmer gives a charismatic, star-caliber performance, and the movie also includes fine supporting appearances by Lucy Gutteridge, Omar Sharif, Richard Gough, and Peter Cushing. Paramount present Top Secret! in a solid anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) with both Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 Surround audio. Also included is an amusing commentary by ZAZ, joined by producers Jon Davison and Hunt Lowry. The writing-directing team revels in their good jokes and in their bombs, and their unpretentious revisit is welcome. This disc also salvages four bits of fun from the editing bin, offering slightly extended scenes "One Little Apple," Fetch," "Thirsty," and "Burning Passion," all of which have previously been included in cable television broadcasts. Also here are storyboards and a trailer. Keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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