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Hot Shots (1991)

The US Navy has set up a special mission called ‘Operation Sleepy Weasel’ and it needs former hotshot pilot “Topper” Harley (Charlie Sheen) back. Trouble is, he’s now leading a spiritual life as “Fluffy Bunny Feet” on an Indian reservation.

If ever a movie was ripe for sending up, then Top Gun (1986) was it, and, although this lacks the charm of classic spoofs Airplane! (1980) and The Naked Gun (1988), there are enough good gags on show to win over those who wished Tom Cruise had gone down in flames.

This time director Jim Abrahams goes solo without the Zucker brothers, but he still displays the same cheerful lack of taste and subtlety and finds time to poke fun at movies ranging from The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989) through to Dances with Wolves (1990).

Topper returns to his carrier outfit and renews his rivalry with squeaky clean Kent Gregory (Cary Elwes). They also vie for the affection of the base psychiatrist, Ramada Thompson (Valeria Golino), who tries to deal with Topper’s shame over a crash caused by his Navy father.

The squadron is sent to sea for the super-secret ‘Sleepy Weasel’ mission commanded by the addled Admiral ‘Tug’ Benson (Lloyd Bridges) who bags the most laughs as the altogether untogether commanding officer. Hoping to sabotage the mission is a nasty industrialist (Efrem Zimbalist Jr).

The production approached the US military but were denied cooperation in filming. So the crew resorted to building a fake aircraft carrier runway on top of the Palos Verdes cliffs where Marineland used to be and using decals to simulate gun turrets on British-built Gnat acrobatic planes that doubled for Navy fighters. Scenes of the carrier at sea were stock footage obtained from Flight of the Navigator.

Sean “Topper” Harley/Rhett Butler/Superman
Charlie Sheen
Kent Gregory
Cary Elwes
Ramada Thompson/Scarlett O’Hara/Lois Lane
Valeria Golino
Admiral “Tug” Benson
Lloyd Bridges
Lieutenant Commander Block
Kevin Dunn
Pete “Dead Meat” Thompson
William O’Leary
Kristy Swanson
Efrem Zimbalist Jr
Buzz Harley
Bill Irwin
Jim “Wash Out” Pfaffenbach
Jon Cryer

Jim Abrahams