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Fox Home Entertainment presents
Harley Topper: I got the sky, the smell of jet exhaust, my bike.
DVD ReviewJim Abrahams, together with the Zucker Brothers, made some of the great comedies of the 1980s. That it wasn't just the Zuckers is made amply clear by this gut-busting comedy that takes the Top Gun genre and lets loose with rapid-fire gags that mostly are right on the money.
Topper Harley (Charlie Sheen) is a hotshot Navy pilot who has retreated to a reservation, obsessing over his failure that mirrored the fatal accident of his father. Called out of retirement by Lt. Commander Block (Kevin Dunn), he's assigned to the Sleepy Weasel project that requires the best of the best. Once out, he has to deal with his sexy psychiatrist Ramada (Valeria Golino), her jealous boyfriend Kent (Cary Elwes), their demented admiral (Lloyd Bridges) and a military contractor, Wilson (Efrem Zimbalist Jr.) who wants to sabotage the project.
That synopsis doesn't begin to do justice to this picture. Almost immediately there's a barrage of effective humor, absurd and slapstick, all played perfectly straight, which heightens the comic effect. Sheen gives a performance reminiscent of an obsessive Tom Cruise, and his straight-arrow persona works great in the role. The real standout is Lloyd Bridges as the admiral whose body parts litter an endless parade of battlefields. He takes a clueless page from Leslie Nielsen's shtick as he wanders into pratfalls and seems completely oblivious to his surroundings.
The PG-13 rating strikes me as a complete mystery. While there's a little rough language and a couple of cannibalism gags, it's not too extreme, and there's no nudity, sex or violence beyond slapstick. There is an erotically charged love scene, but it's played entirely for laughs by the time Harley begins frying bacon on Ramada's stomach. I found the film to be quite inoffensive. Considering the usually raunchy nature of comedy these days, that makes Hot Shots! a particularly welcome breath of fresh air.
The one drawback to the presentation that I noted is that the onscreen subtitles during the segments in the phony Indian language (including such phrases as "LaToya Jermaine Tito") are player-generated. This is distracting and does damage to the film.
Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: B+
Image Transfer Review: The anamorphic widescreen picture looks great. There is a load of fine detail, and color is excellent and natural in appearence. Black levels are very good, but there is plenty of shadow detail as well. A very occasional speck might be seen, but by and large this looks brand new. The fact that this fairly short film is presented on an RSDL disc allows for a high bit rate, which certainly doesn't hurt.
Image Transfer Grade: A
Audio Transfer Review: The 5.1 sound (advertised incorrectly on the keepcase as Dolby Surround) is also first-rate, with the jets providing both excellent directional sound and a ton of deep bass. No hiss, noise or distortion was noted. Dialogue is crystal clear throughout.
Audio Transfer Grade: A
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Kung Pow, Dude, Where's My Car?, Freddy Got Fingered, Monkeybone
Layers Switch: 00h:52m:59s
Extras Review: The primary extra is a promotional documentary (25m:03s), The Making of an Important Movie. This consists of about half clips of the best gags from the movie and half from tongue-in-cheek interviews with the cast. Not as funny as the main feature, there's still more entertainment here than one finds in the usual puff piece.
Besides that, there's a set of trailers. That for the feature is pan & scan, as are all of the others except Kung Pow, which is nonanamorphic widescreen. Chaptering is quite thorough.
Extras Grade: C
Final CommentsA fun comedy with a nonstop barrage of gags in a terrific transfer. There's an entertaining documentary to boot, so this one is recommended.
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