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Hot Shots! (1991)

Hot Shots: An Important Movie!

The mother of all movies!

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 84 minutes

UK Certificate: PG


‘Hot Shots!’ sets out to do for ‘Top Gun’ what the Naked Gun movies did for every detective flick ever made. In other words, it takes the piss at every given opportunity humanly possible, and many others besides.

Our chiselled hero is Topper Harley, played by Charlie Sheen in a role he seems practically made for. As the self-styled swoon-worthy fighter pilot called upon to join the Navy on a top secret mission (the exact details of which are always hazy at best), he stays stern and stony-faced despite the outright daftness of everything going on around him.

Sheen’s involvement isn’t the only triumph on the part of the casting department, though. Lloyd Bridges, always a tremendous comic actor, invariably steals each of his scenes as nutty Admiral Tug Benson. Cary Elwes, too, is on top form as Topper’s slimy dressing room adversary and love-rival Kent Gregory.

But the film itself never quite manages to equate to the sum of its parts. With its rapid-fire line in gags, it’s almost like the cinematic equivalent of a Frank Carson stand-up routine, hitting us with the next funny when we’ve barely had time to take in the last. In other words, it primarily works on the basis that if it lobs enough of its jokes at us, at least some are going to stick. Indeed, some of them do, but there are also an awful lot of cringe-worthy efforts on show, with writer-director Jim Abrahams somewhat disappointingly going for quantity over quality.

The end product is a movie that’s bound to touch everyone’s funny bone at one point or another, but it’s inconsistent, gives the impression of just trying a little too hard, and never manages to run as smoothly as the vastly-superior Naked Gun.

It's Got: That old comedy chestnut, the helium gag.

It Needs: Better funnies – if that means fewer of them, then so be it.

DVD Extras The disc contains both this one and the sequel from two years later ‘Hot Shots! Part Deux’ – but, on the extra features front, there’s only a trailer for each film. DVD Extras Rating: 1/10


Any movie that takes a pop at ‘Top Gun’ can’t be all bad – but it’s no ‘Naked Gun’.