Movie Review: Top Secret! (1984)


Title: Top Secret! 
Release Date: June 22, 1984
Director: Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker
Production Company: Paramount Pictures
Summary/Review:

The team of Zucker, Abrahams, Zucker followed up their hit Airplane! with this comedy that turned out to be a flop.  It’s a bit unfortunate because I feel that in some ways it is better than Airplane! While the previous movie was a straightforward disaster movie spoof, Top Secret! is a more esoteric parody of Cold War spy thrillers and Elvis Presley musicals that evolves into a strange pastiche of World War II resistance movies.

Val Kilmer makes his film debut as American rock star Nick Rivers who is invited to perform at a cultural festival in East Germany.  He ends up caught up in the attempts of resistance member Hillary Flammond (Lucy Gutteridge, who appears to mostly work in British theatre and tv) to escape the authorities.  Hijinks ensue. There are a lot of great gags, but among them the opening song “Skeet Surfin'” and the Swedish bookstore scene are absolute classics of the genre.  At the more lowbrow end, there are a lot of jokes about breasts and penises.

This was not the type of movie Kilmer wanted to make, but nevertheless puts his all into the role making him the perfect straight man for all the nonsense.  Veteran actors Omar Sharif, Peter Cushing, and Michael Gough all appear in small but memorable roles.  And the rock and roll parody songs are all pretty hilarious. Plus there’s always something going on in the background that’s worth watching.

I put Top Secret! on my 250 favorite movies list earlier this year.  If I revised the list now, it might not make the cut, but it’s wouldn’t be too far off.

Rating: ****

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