Wednesday, August 26, 2009

“We'll settle this the old navy way; The first guy to die, LOSES!”

Had to happen, right? Hot Shots had a sequel, only this time its not a direct, “lets fly some more jets around” film but instead goes for the action movie route in 1993. Once more directed by Jim Abrahams, and with three returning characters, the question is, does the sequel have enough jokes to last for 86 minutes?

America finds itself in hot water once again as Saddam Hussein’s forces keep capturing American soldiers sent in to rescue the last group of soldiers sent in that got captured. The president recruits the one man left who can save the day, but the government has to convince him to leave his seclusion in the first place.

Topper Harley: Charlie Sheen returns, only bulked up dramatically for the role. He still delivers deadpan delivery and his expression changes very little, but when you’re making fun of Rambo, then it works just fine. The inclusion of a better love triangle adds a little depth to the character. He also shoots a bad guy with a chicken.

Ramada Rodham Hayman: Valeria Golino returns as Ramada no-longer-Thompson. She gets more to do in this film, having become an undercover agent for the government behind enemy lines after her estrangement from Topper.

President Thomas “Tug” Benson: Lloyd Bridges returns as the scatterbrained war veteran, except now he’s the President of the United States. The character’s much more solid in this film, staying consistently funny throughout and the subplot where he suits up in a wetsuit to go and extract the prisoners himself goes into absurd territory (both good and bad). Easily the film’s badass.

Colonel Denton Walters: Richard Crenna (from the Rambo films) plays the colonel who tries to bring Topper back, but then gets captured by the enemy, actually prompting Topper to come back to the military.

Michelle Rodham Huddleston: A CIA agent who’s got her eyes on Topper, she’s the one who fully brings him back for the mission, but knows more than she reveals.

Commander Arvid Harbinger: Miguel Ferrer plays the guy in charge of the rescue mission until Topper replaces him. He’s seen too much war and chickens out quite a few times, until Topper finally tells him its okay to pull the trigger on the bad guys in probably one of the movie’s most memorable scenes.

Williams & Rabinowitz: The other squad members under Topper’s command. Michael Colyar’s Williams doesn’t get much development, but Ryan Stiles returns to Hot Shots as a completely different character, demolitions expert/enthusiast Rabinowitz.

Saddam Hussein: Jerry Haleva (who’s listed on IMDB as an actor who’s every credited roles were playing Saddam, a curious tidbit to be sure) is the Villain. He’s a lot of fun to watch as he plays Saddam as a bumbling, petty, lisping goofball who actually makes an amusing counterpart to Tug Benson. He was also in the first Hot Shots, but that was for all of six seconds.

Dexter Hayman: Rowan Atkinson is largely wasted as the fussy freedom fighter and husband of Ramada imprisoned by Saddam.

Special Cameo Appearance/Sheen Family Joke appearance of Martin Sheen as Captain Willard (the character he played in Apocalypse Now) in a passing gag where his and Charlie Sheen’s boats pass each other on the river.

Jim Abrahams’ directing is much better in this film, probably because there isn’t as much stock footage. The film goes full bore absurd for its action scenes, and the visual gags work much better in this film. One part has a tally pop up onscreen during a gunfight as the film’s kill count gleefully tallies bad guys before proclaiming it as the bloodiest film ever. Another part has Topper firing an M60 machine gun on a sinking boat until its empty before cutting to a shot of him waist deep in spent casings. There are a few stinkers, like the out-of-nowhere lightsaber fight between Benson and Saddam, but overall, it’s a marked improvement.

Jim Abrahams & Pat Proft once again, and the jokes and plot are overall better than in the first film.

Original score by the enormously prolific Basil Poledouris (who scored the Conan movies, among other things). It delivers a suitably mock epic action movie sound, but the movie doesn’t have much in the way of recognizable themes.

You know, Hot Shots: Part Deux is a much, much better film than the first one. Charlie Sheen works as a mock action hero and the movie itself is overall better at landing on the funny side of stupid comedy. Its not the best spoof around, but its actually pretty all right and entertaining.

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