Hot Shots! Part Deux

Someone needs to come up with a list of how many live-action films have done some sort of tribute to the spaghetti scene from Lady and the Tramp. You’ve seen this in other movies, right? Where two people who love each other are sharing a plate of spaghetti and they wind up on the same piece of pasta, which leads to a kiss. That’s the one. How many films have done that with humans? Now, tell me, how many have followed it up with one human nudging a meatball to the other side of the plate with his or her nose, like the dog does in the animated film? None? Well, this one does just that.

The first Hot Shots! was a loving spoof of Top Gun. For the sequel, we have taken the Hollywood approach of “bigger is better” and decided to use Rambo III as the base. Topper Harley (Charlie Sheen) is now living with monks, having given up his dreams of flying planes for a living … because of reasons we’ll never learn, I guess. He was dumped by the love of his life, a therapist named Ramada (Valeria Golino), and has significantly bulked up, looking more like Sylvester Stallone than anyone probably thought possible.

He is approached by Colonel Denton Walters (Richard Crenna, doing a sendup of his Rambo role) and CIA Agent Michelle Huddleston (Brenda Bakke), telling him that they need help rescuing some Americans, who were trying to rescue some Americans who themselves were trying to rescue some Americans who were captured by Saddam Hussein (Jerry Haleva) some months prior. I think I got that right, although I might have added one too many “rescue some Americans.” Oh well.

So, we’re going to the jungle to do Rambo III again. Before leaving, Topper has a fleeting romance with Michelle, because we need a love triangle. The informant in the jungle, surprising absolutely nobody, winds up being Ramada, and we move on from there. There’s a lot of gunfire, a couple of rescue scenes, and we’re basically given an abbreviated version — which isn’t a bad thing — of the third Rambo, as well as seeing references to other movies that came out in the two years between Hot Shots! movies.

Like before, the scene-stealer is Lloyd Bridges, whose character has been promoted from Rear admiral to President of the United States. You won’t understand how incredible a statement that is if you haven’t seen Hot Shots!, but go see that film and then just imagine the insanity that can come from having that character run an entire country. Suffice to say that almost all of Bridges’ scenes are winners, and it’s because of them, particularly in Part Deux‘s second half, that the film keeps afloat.

With only two years between film releases, one could wonder if Hot Shots! Part Deux wound up being rushed in hopes of cashing in on the first film’s success. Most of the jokes that could have been used were done in the first film, meaning there would potentially be less material to draw from in the second installment. I think it’s because of this that Part Deux doesn’t feel quite as funny as its predecessor, and also why the final third is almost completely devoid of laughs.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The only thing that truly matters in a comedy is whether or not it’s funny. Everything else can fail, but if it is making you laugh then it is still a success. Hot Shots! Part Deux will make you laugh, although not with the frequency of the first film or many of the other Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker spoof movies. It loses momentum and steam as it progresses, and by the time it ends I had been ready for the finale for a good chunk of time. It was only because of Lloyd Bridges that I hadn’t given up on the production.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t a couple of highlights later on — a body count meter which appears at the bottom of the screen and indicates when Part Deux‘s body count reaches that of Total Recall and Robocop is one such highlight — but there isn’t much there, especially when compared to the first film. A couple of additional years of development wouldn’t have hurt this movie.

It’s amazing to see the physique of Charlie Sheen in this movie. He makes for a believable action hero. Did he need to bulk up for the role, considering it’s a spoof movie? Probably not, but the dedication to the role is impressive. Actually, I would have liked to see him do everything he does in this film without the muscle, as it might have been even funnier. Sheen himself is still good in the role he played two years earlier, and the deadpan performances from the entirety of the cast makes the absurdity surrounding them even funnier.

Hot Shots! Part Deux isn’t quite the film that its predecessor was — which itself is not among the top tier of spoof movies by the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker trio — but it’s still a fun watch and if you needed to see a Rambo III spoof, one which actually winds up being more enjoyable than the film it’s spoofing, then here is your movie. The creativity and spark isn’t quite there, but it’s still a funny movie that is well worth seeing. The actors, in particular Lloyd Bridges, make it enjoyable.

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