As you scan through the various titles available on Netflix’s Watch Instantly service, you may find yourself in an age-old conflict. Do you watch a classic action film or a gut-busting comedy? Thankfully, a recently added title makes it possible for you to avoid this conundrum all together.
For your consideration, we highly suggest you check out Hot Shots! Part Deux.
Who Made It:Hot Shots! Part Deux was directed and co-written by Jim Abrahams. If the name sounds vaguely familiar on its own, it will probably prove far more recognizable in conjunction with his usual creative team: Abrahams, Zucker, and Zucker. That’s right, the mad geniuses behind Airplane, Top Secret, and The Naked Gun. These guys obviously know how to create great parody films and Abrahams proves he can recreate this on his own as the Hot Shots! sequel is fantastic.
Who’s In It: Just as in the first film, the star of Hot Shots! Part Deux is Charlie Sheen. Bear in mind, this is not completely bonkers Two and a Half Men era Charlie Sheen who became a sad parody of himself. This is the late 80s/early 90s prime version of Charlie Sheen whose offscreen exploits were still secondary to his onscreen persona. Between the Hot Shots movies, the Major League movies, and Young Guns, Sheen was positioning himself as one of the funniest, coolest actors in Hollywood.
What’s It About: The U.S. government launches a covert mission into Baghdad to rescue Desert Storm prisoners of war. This special ops team is also secretly tasked with assassinating Saddam Hussein. Things go terribly wrong and the team is captured. Now, the government scrambles to put together a rescue team to rescue their rescue team. They can think of only one man capable of leading such a rescue mission: Topper Harley. Now, if they can only find him.
Why You Should Watch It:
Much of the formulaic Abrahams and Zucker(s) comedy is alive and well in Hot Shots! Part Deux. There is no shortage of goofy physical humor and you can’t swing your arms, or throw a banana peel, without hitting a pratfall. The sequel also carries the tradition of the first film in its merciless skewering of various films. The first Hot Shots was primarily a send-up of Top Gun, hence the name bestowed upon Sheen’s character, but the sequel does far more branching out; mocking several films within the action genre. Everything fromRambo to Terminator 2 to Star Wars gets the Abrahams treatment.
But in addition to the obvious, overt humor, Hot Shots! Part Duex shines in its more subtle jokes. There are little touches sewn into the fabric of silliness so understated as to almost be Easter eggs, and often communicated without words. I think my favorite of these has to be the moment between the two operatives on the airplane just before they parachute behind enemy lines. As one operative covers his face in camo paint, he hands the applicator to his comrade, an African-American. The look on the second operative’s face as he is handed the paint is absolute genius; a mix of disbelief and utter disappointment. There’s also the scene at the press conference where, in the background, the accident-prone current president manages to take out all the living (at the time) former presidents except for Gerald Ford, who just falls down on his own.
Hot Shots! Part Deux features one hell of a cast. Beyond Sheen, the roster boasts comedy legend, and frequent Abrahams/Zucke/Zucker collaborator, Lloyd Bridges as clueless President Tug Benson. He is as quick with the one-liners as he is with the slapstick. Whose Line Is It Anyway’s Ryan Stiles shows up as a loony demolitions expert and is absolutely incredible. But the most meta piece of casting in the film is the inclusion of Richard Crenna. Crenna played Rambo’s commanding officer Col. Trautman in theFirst Blood franchise, which serves as the film’s chief source of comedic inspiration. For his part, his timing is quite adept. I also love the cameo by Martin Sheen, Charlie Sheen’s father, who is coming up the river narrating his mission as Topper narrates his; a stellar reference to Apocalypse Now.
When you bundle all of these things up with some charmingly dated references,Hot Shots! Part Deux becomes the perfect 90s comedy. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, dated pop culture references are usually cancer for comedies, which is why every film by Friedberg and Seltzer is a travesty. But Hot Shots! Part Deux incorporates these elements into a timeless action movie plot. The First Blood movies will always be classics, so we can enjoy a satire of them even if it features the occasional jab at American Gladiators, President Bush throwing up on a Japanese diplomat, or…well, Saddam Hussein.