Hot Shots! (1991)

hot shots

“You risked the lives of some damn fine pilots… and that’s my job!”

The Scoop: 1991 PG-13, directed by Jim Abrahams and starring Charlie Sheen, Cary Elwes and Jon Cryer.

Tagline: The Mother Of All Movies!

Summary Capsule: Macho, macho men strut around like chickens in this Top Gun parody.


Justin’s rating: My movie reviewing skills were destroyed in a bombing run over Lebanon… they’ve been replaced with a super-intelligent pug with opposable thumbs

Justin’s review: “Join the Navy.” Suuuure thing, buddy. Somehow, the United States Toy Boat Attack Squad managed to combine all of my primal fears — height (jets), claustrophobia (subs), and being snack food for Jaws (ships) into one fun phobic package. Maybe they just didn’t want me, I don’t know. But if the Navy ever comes to its senses and builds an aircraft carrier that sits in the middle of the Badlands and doesn’t launch anything more sophisticated than a paper airplane, I’m in!

As much as the USN doesn’t want me, I think they’ve tried even harder to distance themselves from being associated with any water-related movie that doesn’t take itself very seriously. Hot Shots! is their arch-nemesis, that screechy little boy who follows alongside more serious films like Top Gun and The Hunt for Red October and pours on the raspberries. I like to side with arch-nemesii, since they always have a better refreshment tables.

Hot Shots! — a movie so proud of itself that it absolutely, positively must end its title with the king of all punctuation marks, the exclamation — makes me proud to be a guy. I mean, I’m a man when I have to be; for instance, when there’s a 20-ton woolly mammoth threatening my female or my lazy-boy. But being a guy is just more fun. We have better remote controls, and we get to genuinely enjoy dumb movies whereas men have to frown in pretend disgust and then feast upon Great Expectations, trying all the while not to consider lighting themselves on fire.

As a guy movie, Hot Shots! takes not even the opening credits with a straight face, and lays on the parodies thick and juicy like a choice cut t-bone steak. Mmm… steak. Most notably throwing rubber chickens as its inspiration, the ’80s bang-em-up Top Gun, Hot Shots! manages to slide in a few welcome nods to everything from Nine and a Half Weeks to Dances With Wolves.

Unlike The Naked Gun, this isn’t just Charlie Sheen’s show; it’s an entire slew of deranged characters bringing life to the party. Topper Harley (riding in on the bike, of course) is laced with the wit and eyebrows of Chuck “Did someone say cocaine?” Sheen, whose comedic performances far outdo anything serious he’s ever done. Topper is reenlisted by the generic NAVY to fight a generic IRAQ ENEMY and save the day. Joining him is the antagonistic Kent (Cary “You Wish” Elwes), the sight-challenged Wash Out, Dead Meat as the lucky family guy no one likes, and Kirsty Swanson in a bra. Indeed. For no reason, other than to make original Buffy lovers happy. Leading them all is the late great Lloyd Bridges as Admiral Benson, who has had nearly every body part replaced by something odd after every war.

The jokes are about as sophisticated as the Larry doll I have on my desk that farts and shakes when you squeeze his finger, but that’s well-served to those of us who just need something that’s out to make us laugh, and nothing more. I still find the need to wipe a happy tear away from chuckling at everyone in the barracks suddenly finding out they’re related to each other, or when the movie shows Wash Out’s vision from his perspective, or when the Iraqi pilots are chatting away in funny random English words thrown together.

While extremely funny and in mostly poor taste, this Hot Shots! was actually outdone by its offspring (which had a much larger field of parody to draw from). Take it from a fellow Fluffy Bunny Feet, this is a terrific way to guzzle down the empty calories of hilarity when you’re not being forced to savor mineral water (Ack).


Kyle’s rating: I’d MUCH rather be Charlie Sheen than Tom Cruise. Even now!

Kyle’s review: Hot Shots! doesn’t come close to overcoming the greatness that is Airplane!, which was and remains the ultimate benchmark for movies that are full of gags and star Lloyd Bridges. But what does? Hot Shots is probably the best of gag-filled movies that don’t star Leslie Nielson, however.

Actually, I always got that Hot Shots was primarily a big spoof on Top Gun, but since I was never a big Top Gun fan (not like some people) that whole aspect didn’t appeal to me much. I never got into Point Break either, although it was on television today and I flipped onto it once there was no more Danica Patrick to enjoy and I was like “ooh, cool surfer movie, I should give this a try again some day.” And I will. It’s a promise. Oh, and my friend Katie was big into Val Kilmer’s character in Top Gun and liked to chomp her teeth at people and call me “Iceman” (which was the character Val Kilmer played, which she was emulating, so I never got that part of her flirting), and that was fun.

Hot Shots, though: great fun. Or good fun, at least. The motorcycle/tree gymnastics sparring scene has always stuck with me, as well as a lot of the “let me prove I’m more rebuilt than Darth Vader” Bridges schtick. But Hot Shots is missing some vital ingredient that makes it unforgettable, like your Airplane or Naked Gun. That isn’t to say it’s not worth checking out, or even buying (I got my DVD for #5.50 at the evil place!). It’s solid, consistent entertainment, and Valerie Golino is hotness. Plus, it’s funny funny funny! I remembered it not being as strong as even Naked Gun 33 1/3, but time has been kind and it still holds up. Nice!

Hot Shots: a good film pretty much devoid (unless my memory cheats) of Saturday Night Live alums. And isn’t that a great thing, sometimes? Check it out, because spoof humor is pretty extinct nowadays and I don’t think we’re going to get any more for a long time to come. And check out that sequel, too: longer hair on Sheen means longer laughs for you and me!

Madame, I can assure you that I am 100% A-grade Stud.
Madame, I can assure you that I am 100% A-grade Stud.


  • Great theme music.
  • I love the signal paddles/chinese fan dance guy!
  • Planes have passing lights and horns.
  • Ejecting during hunting season is not a good idea, always.
  • Sound effects on teepees are funny, as is helium
  • I’ve got to say that I was pretty surprised to find out that they actually put out a soundtrack CD to this film… spoof flicks rarely get that sort of treatment. The opening titles are pretty good, even if they are trying to go for Top Gun’s theme.
  • Chihahua underfoot many times.
  • They have speed bumps on runways now.
  • WallEye-cam is truly hilarious… wish the entire movie was filmed in this.
  • The whole barracks is Six Degrees of Separation… I love the scene (“EAGLE RIVER!”)
  • The troops doing a chorus line outside the Admiral’s office.
  • The “free beer” rush.
  • Did ya notice Dead Meat’s “foreshadowing” scene… they just nail all the stupid “you’re gonna die” clichés of action movies
  • After Wilson (Efrem Zimbalist Jr.) falls down the flight of stairs on the S. S. Essess, he lands in a Marathon Man parody, where the famous Dr. Szell says “Is it safe?” Let’s hope Wilson didn’t sleep with the doctors wife. [Thanks Robert H.]
  • There are gag credits at the end of the film including, “Things you can do after the movie” (the same as a gag credit at the end of the Bruce Lee sendup in Kentucky Fried Movie).
  • Topper Harley’s name comes from Harley-Davidson’s 1960’s motorscooter, the Harley Topper.

Groovy Quotes:

Mailman: [crashing] Okay, there’s the ground… looks hard…

Guy whose dad shot his father: If it helps, I didn’t have seconds.

Admiral Benson: I slipped on a crab. Who put that crab there?
Ship Commander: I don’t see any crab.
Admiral Benson: Don’t tell me. There were two crabs. They work in pairs.

Admiral Benson: I would like to thank you for having us over for dinner last night. Cheryl and I thought the stroganoff was wonderful.
Lt. Commander Bloc: But sir, we didn’t have you over for dinner last night.
Admiral Benson: Oh, very well. Then, where the hell was I? And who’s Cheryl?

Topper Harley: You have the whitest white-part-of-the-eyes I’ve ever seen. Do you floss?

Kent Gregory: That flying stunt today was pure madness. If there wasn’t a lady present, I’d tear you apart like Christmas goose.
Topper Harley: Yeah? Well, keep it up, you’ll be carrying your face home in a doggie bag.
Ramada: What is this macho thing?
Topper: He started it.
Kent: Did not.
Topper: Did too.
Kent: Did not.
Ramada: You’re behaving like children.
Topper: He’s bein’ a jerk.
Kent: Am not.
Topper: Are too.
Kent: Am not.
Topper: Are too too too too too too too too too too too–
Kent: Not not not not not not not not not–
Topper: Are too times ten.

Admiral Benson: My eyes are ceramic. Caught a bazooka round at Little Big Horn. Or was it Okinawa? The one without the Indians.

Topper Harley: Playing to lose is like sleeping with your sister. Sure she’s a great piece of tail with a blouse full of goodies, but it’s just illegal. Then you get into that whole inbred thing. Kids with no teeth who do nothing but play the banjo… eat apple sauce through a straw… pork farm animals.

Admiral Benson: Pete ‘Dead Meat’ Thompson is dead. So is Mo Green, Tataglia, Barzini, the heads of all the five families. It is at moments like these, my dear friends, that we must ask ourselves: “How can this not be part of some larger plan?” Do good men like Dead Meat Thompson just blink out one day like a bad bulb? I mean, one minute you’re in bed with a knockout gal… or guy, and the next, you’re a compost heap. Doesn’t that bother any of you? Because it scares the living piss outta me!

Topper Harley: Those are some long legs…
Ramada: I just had them lengthened. Now they go all the way up.

Benson: 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.

Topper Harley: So … I guess you’ve been with a man before…
Ramada: I’m a virgin. I’m just not very good at it.

Topper Harley: Interesting perfume.
Ramada Thompson: It’s Vicks. I have a cold.

Topper Harley: I’ve fallen for you like a blind roofer.
Ramada Thompson: I’m sorry?
Topper Harley: My heart is falling down around my ankles like a wet pair of pants. My whole life, all I’ve wanted to do is fly. Bomb stuff. Shoot people down.

Lt. Commander Block: American planes will always be superior as long as there are wonderful men like you in the cockpit. And German parts.

If you enjoyed this movie, try:

  • The Naked Gun
  • Airplane!
  • Top Gun


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