THERE’S SOMETHING FUNNY IN THE AIR.
Still suffering from a crippling trauma caused by his father’s demise, former fighter pilot Topper Harley (Charlie Sheen) returns to the Navy for a secret mission. The success of The Naked Gun (1988) re-energized the spoof genre and parts of Hot Shots! reconnected with the old glory days. Top Gun (1986) is of course the prime target, but many other movies take hits as well, including Nine ½ Weeks in one memorable scene. The gags are not all new, but certainly funny enough. Sheen is quite effective as a hilariously earnest Tom Cruise clone, but Lloyd Bridges gets the biggest laughs as the batty admiral whose body no longer has any original parts.
1991-U.S. 85 min. Color. Produced by Bill Badalato. Directed by Jim Abrahams. Screenplay: Jim Abrahams, Pat Proft. Cast: Charlie Sheen (Topper Harley), Cary Elwes (Kent Gregory), Valeria Golino (Ramada Thompson), Lloyd Bridges, Kevin Dunn, Jon Cryer.
Trivia: George C. Scott was allegedly first considered for Bridges’s part. Followed by Hot Shots! Part Deux (1993).
Quote: “I look out there on all you wonderful guys and I say to myself ‘What I wouldn’t give to be 20 years younger… and a woman’. You know, I’ve personally flown over 194 missions and I was shot down on every one. Come to think of it, I’ve never landed a plane in my life.” (Bridges)
Last word: “The weirdest part of it was that, right near the end of filming, the original Gulf War was starting to break out, and we were sort of looking around at these fighter jets and all that stuff that we were shooting on and going, ‘Wow, this isn’t gonna be funny if this [conflict] doesn’t go well.’ So that sort of brought it home for us. But doing that film well, seeing the barrage of movies of that type that have come out since then, which were done not nearly as well, really reinforces how artful those original movies were.” (Cryer, A.V. Club)