1991, PG-13, 85 min. Directed by Jim Abrahams. Starring Charlie Sheen, Cary Elwes, Valeria Golino, Lloyd Bridges.
REVIEWED By Kathleen Maher, Fri., Aug. 2, 1991
Now I have it. Abrahams is good at satire -- he's the disciplined one -- and David Zucker, who worked with Abraham and his brother in the trio's hits Airplane etc. is good at one-liners. As a result, I had a better time at Hot Shots, though I probably laughed harder at Naked Gun 2 1/2. Hot Shots has much more of a story line and I'm the kind of person who waits to find out what happens in a porn film. Hot Shots takes on the butch fly-boy genre, especially Top Gun, but also Flight of the Intruder and Navy Seals and others. Sheen plays his usual square-jawed macho character and he's hilarious. He never breaks character or smirks to the camera to let us all know he gets the joke. He's the young pilot who's brilliant but reckless, revered by the men and resented by the other hero-in-waiting, Elwes. It's all here, the young family man who everyone likes code-named Deadmeat, the dedicated young flyer who's covering up a slight vision problem, he's called Washout, and Bridges as their commanding officer, a crusty old fool who has not one iota of original equipment left on his body. They're joined by Golina who, as the beautiful young psychiatrist, provides the love interest for the two heroes. In her sizzling encounter with Sheen, we're treated to a parody of 9 1/2 Weeks that really cleans out the refrigerator. Unfortunately, the film begins to fall apart when it leaves film parody and strays too close to reality. This film is so timely, it has the young pilots flying a bombing run on Saddam Hussein's nuclear plant. Either these filmmakers were lucky, or they made it last week. It almost seems as if the latter is true, because Hot Shots handling of Middle Eastern bad guys is just a little too heavy handed -- no, make that insulting and insensitive. It's too bad they didn't work a little harder on this part of the film because it ruins a movie that could be funnier but is a lot better than the competition, Naked Gun 2 1/2.