The spoof movie genre has been sullied by a couple of later years bad examples, Scary Movies, Meet The Spartans, and – oh, the irony – Disaster Movie. Where these movies and even the term spoof itself have since been eschewed, there remains a series of films that occupy a special place of fondness in the heart of many – the ZAZ movies.
The writing, directing, and producing partnership of David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker stamped their mark all over the spoof movie genre for the best part of a decade finding success with The Naked Gun: From The Files Of Police Squad!, Airplane!, Top Secret! and of course Hot Shots! from 1991.
Lt. Commander Block: Every aerial photo and recon report indicate a defensive arsenal in the D, and perhaps negative C, categories. There’s also some anti-aircraft squadrons. They can send up an ack-ack umbrella high enough to make any attack ineffective.
Admiral Benson: I don’t have a clue what you’re talkin’ about, Phil. Not a fucking clue. I have a shell the size of a fist in my head. Pork Chop Hill. The only way I can make this goddamn toupee to stay on is by magnetizing the entire upper left quadrant of my skull, so you just go ahead and do what you
Hot Shots! is simply a “Top Gun” spoof in which a maverick Air Force pilot is coaxed back into service after giving up military life to live among a tribe of Native Americans. After reenlisting, he’s tasked to destroy Iraqi nuclear facilities while dealing with a rival pilot and a manipulative aerospace executive.
Hot Shots! is applying the Naked Gun spoof treatment to Top Gun, this has Charlie Sheen as a traumatized but brilliant pilot, with ZAZ regular Lloyd Bridges as Admiral Benson in the now-familiar straight-faced bumbling idiot role. Bridges steals every scene he’s in as inept Admiral/President Tug Benson. He’s quick to list his achievements (“My eyes are ceramic. Caught a bazooka round at Little Big Horn. Or was it Okinawa? The one without the Indians”) and rarely has a clue what’s going on. (“Mr President.” “No you’re not, I’ve seen him on TV. He’s an older man, about my height.”) Thank goodness he’s fictional.
Admiral Benson: My eyes are ceramic. Caught a bazooka round at Little Big Horn. Or was it Okinawa? The one without the Indians.
Directed solely by Abrahams and written alongside Pat Proft (collaborated on the original Naked Gun as well as writing Police Academy), the Hot Shots films spoofed action movies in particular. Amongst others, primarily Hot Shots (1991) got tone on Top Gun. Following just two years later, Part Deux had a deeper pool from which to draw, taking on ‘Nam’ classics, 80’s action fodder – a lot of Rambo references.
Hot Shots! was directed by Jim Abrahams, co-writer and co-director of Airplane!, and written by Abrahams and Pat Proft. It stars Charlie Sheen, Cary Elwes, Valeria Golino, Lloyd Bridges, Jon Cryer, Kevin Dunn, Kristy Swanson, and Bill Irwin. The film was both a critical and commercial success. It holds an 83% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes based on 24 reviews. The site’s consensus reads, “Hot Shots! hits most of its parodic targets with aplomb, excelling as a daffy good time thanks to inspired gags and Charlie Sheen’s crack comedic timing”.
Admiral Benson: Oh, by the way I would like to thank you for having us over for dinner the other night. Cheryl and I thought the stroganoff was marvelous.
Lt. Commander Block: But sir, we didn’t have dinner the other night.
Admiral Benson: Really? Then where the hell was I? And who’s this Cheryl?