'Hot Shots!' spoof of flier films takes humor aloft


DIRECTOR JIM ABRAHAMS and Pat Proft, who collaborated with David and Jerry Zucker on "Airplane!" and "Naked Gun," go to the same comic well for "Hot Shots!" which opens today.

Proft co-wrote the script with Abrahams. This time, the results are mixed. At times, the film is very funny. At others times, it doesn't quite make it. But that's all right, there are enough laughs to keep the 85-minute feature afloat.

"Hot Shots!" is a sendup of the flyboy films, including "Top Gun," the movie that made Tom Cruise a star, and "Test Pilot." Other movies kidded are "An Officer and a Gentleman," "9 1/2 Weeks," "Marathon Man," "Cocktail," "The Fabulous Baker Boys," "Rocky," 'Superman" and even "Gone With the Wind."

If you've assumed that the film buff will probably enjoy the movie more than others, you're right. Of course, "Hot Shots!" kids so many films that even the casual moviegoer is likely to recognize some of the targets.

Charlie Sheen stars as Topper Harley, who wants to live down the disgraceful way in which his father, also a flier, died.

Topper joins a group of men who will take part in a dangerous mission led by Admiral Benson (Lloyd Bridges), who has apparently taken part in every major battle this country has known since World War II.

Bridges is very funny, particularly when he is doing visual material. There is also a Chihuahua that gets a few laughs.

Among the men flying with Topper are Kent (Cary Elwes), Topper's rival for the attentions of Ramada Thompson (Valeria Golino), a base psychiatrist; Pete Thompson (William O'Leary), who is doomed to die; and Jim Pfaffenbach (Jon Cryer), who has trouble with his vision.

Also in the cast is Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as Wilson, the villain. Wilson hopes to sabotage the mission so that the Navy will buy his defective planes.

It's a busy plot, but you don't have to pay that much attention to it. What matters here are the gags. When they are good, they are very good. When they are not, we know that something better is just around the corner.

"Hot Shots!"

** A send-up of the flyboy movies.

CAST: Charlie Sheen, Gary Elwes, Valeria Golino, Lloyd Bridges, Jon Cryer, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Bill Irwin

DIRECTOR: Jim Abrahams

RATING: PG-13 (language, sex)

RUNNING TIME: 85 minutes

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