Charlie Sheen, Valeria Golino, Lloyd Bridges. Richard Crenna
After the success of Hot Shots! in 1991, director Jim Abrahams might have been forgiven, perhaps praised, if he had declared of a sequel, “Not gonna deux it.” Instead, he brazened it out with this clever follow-up. (Deux means two in French.)
While it lacks the focus of the original, which was a start-to-finish send-up of Top Gun, this more scattershot spoof is slick, hip and funny.
Sheen’s headband and the presence of Crenna as a Washington-based military mentor suggest a parody of Rambo, but things never get that pointed. Sheen’s character. Topper Harley. has been transposed from fighter pilot to commando and is assigned by Bridges, as the President, to lead an intrepid mission to rescue Desert Storm POWs held in the Middle East. Golino returns, too, as Sheen’s love interest.
Abrahams and counter Pal Proft show more respect for the audience than most modern filmmakers do, assuming that moviegoers will get even subtle jokes. There is a gag involving Tojo, World War II prime minister of Japan. And the site of the POW raid is shown on a map as somewhere between Iraq and A Hard Place.
The movie earns its laughs without tastelessness. But neither is there any political correctness. When a torturer tells the captured Crenna, “You are obviously no stranger to pain,” he replies, “Right. But then I’ve been married—twice.” There is also an Indian joke: During a parachute drop, a series of commandos all yell “Geronimo!” as they jump. Then an Apache-looking trooper leaps, shouting, “Me!”
Sheen, while never seeming to ape anyone in particular, is risibly earnest and stolid.
Remember to slay for the film’s closing credits. A spurious song credit attributes to Michael Bolton a tune called “I Got a Lot of Hair for a Bald Guy and If I Wear It Like This You’ll Never Notice.” (PG-13)