(Second viewing, On DVD, November 2017) I remember seeing Hot Shots! Part Deux in theatres, first week of release, with a bunch of friends and then driving back home while upholding the time-honoured tradition of quoting the best parts of the film to each other. Nearly twenty-five years later, the film holds up pretty well, although it’s somewhat funnier if you have recently viewed its primary sources of inspiration such as Rambo III and Basic Instinct. (“I loved you in Wall Street!”) Unlike latter, less successful spoof movies, however, Hot Shots 2 works on its own as a comedy even if you ignore the parody: there’s wittiness to the script, physical comedy, much absurdity and wry references. The influence of early-nineties pop culture is strong and getting more esoteric by the year (“War … it’s fan-tastic” requires explanations today), but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Charlie Sheen is very good in the title role, while Lloyd Bridges’ unhinged performance as a gaffe-prone president is endearing in the ways the current gaffe-prone president isn’t. It was a great decision for the film to abandon the flying satire of the first film and take on a slightly different military parody. Unusually enough for sequels that usually move on to a new love interest, the beautiful and hilarious Valeria Golino is back and the film does deals with her return in surprising narrative ways. Even today, the film remains very funny, and the presence of a few known actors in smaller roles (Miguel Ferrer, Rowan Atkinson, Richard Crenna) is a great bonus. At a tight 86 minutes, Hot Shots! Part Deux doesn’t overstay its welcome, and is probably best watched soon after its predecessor for even more spoofy fun.
(Second or third viewing, On DVD, October 2017) I first saw Hot Shots! as a teenager before seeing Top Gun, which may have coloured my perceptions of the so-called serious movie. But having recently seen Top Gun in its entirety makes a re-watch of Hot Shots! even funnier. This spoof, is the pure ZAZ lineage, relies a lot on deadpan jokes and actors playing ridiculous material as seriously as possible. Peak-era Charlie Sheen makes for a credible mixture of action-hero looks and comic timing, while Valeria Golino is both spectacular and hilarious as the obligatory (but not perfunctory) love interest—female roles in spoof comedies rarely get as good a character as she does here. While Hot Shots! is focused on Top Gun, it does have time to indulge in broader gags and isn’t content (as with many worse recent spoof movies) simply running through the original plot with extra slapstick and pop-culture references. As a result, Hot Shots! has aged well, even for those who haven’t watched Top Gun recently. In fact, it may even have appreciated slightly since its release given that the bottom has fallen out of the comedy subgenre. A competent spoof upon release, Hot Shots! now stands as a remarkably funny film today.