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Hot Shots! Part Deux


‘…a fittingly silly finale to a series that never lost its momentum…’

That list of sequels which surpass their originals is short, but Hot Shots! Part Deux is one of the exceptions that make the rule; while the first film stuck largely to making fun of Top Gun, the sequel is a parody of a different kind of war film, specifically the second and third Rambo movies. That dates the movie somewhat, but Part Deux was never likely to be one for the ages; the War in Iraq meant that the Saddam Husain character briefly glimpsed in the first film is now a major player here, and that jingo-istic tone leaves plenty of room for making fun of the kind of patriotic flag-waving that Michael Bay later made his signature.

No longer a pilot, Topper Harley (Charlie Sheen) has turned his back on the war he loves; he’s living as a Buddhist monk in a retreat when the Colonel (Richard Crenna, sending up his own role in the Rambo films) enlists him for one more mission. Topper tangles once again with the comely Ramada (Valeria Golino), but things ramp up a good few notches when the Colonel is kidnapped and a blizzard of sight gags erupt as Topper begins his rescue; we end with Saddam dispatched during a lightsabre fight.

If Golino was the breakout ‘I didn’t know she could do that kind of comedy’ performer in the first film, the second belongs to Miguel Ferrer who is genuinely hilarious as Arvid Harbinger, a war veteran who loses his lust for killing; the way Topper talking him round to finding his mojo as a purveyor of senseless OTT violence lays bare the idiocy of rah-rah Hollywood patriotism ‘War, it’s FANTASTIC” concludes Arvid gleefully as he ingeniously turns an enemy pipe-bomber on itself; at moments like this, Hot Shots! Part Deux really is fantastic.

“What’s that you’re reading” ‘Great Expectations’ ‘How is it?’ “Not as good as I was expecting’ If you can’t dig dialogue like that, don’t apply here, but Hot Shots ! Part Deux rewards those who can locate their own funny-bone. There’s also plenty of time-specific references which are curious now, from George Bush’s vomiting in a Prime minister’s lap to a slam on the Jenny Craig diet. Any film that opens with Saddam pleasuring himself with a Dustbuster isn’t aiming too high, but the big gags work here, notably when Topper meets his father (Martin Sheen) travelling on a PT boat up the river (‘Loved you in Wall Street’ they both call out). And the final gag is perfect, Topper’s helicopter flies towards the setting sun, goes right round it and flies back towards the camera. It’s a fittingly silly finale to a series that never lost its momentum.


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  1. Was this the franchise where a guy fries an egg on his lady lovers belly? I remember that scene from all the trailers, and nothing else. Obviously the clever repartee’s passed me by….

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