Out of the country trips sure do cut into my movie-viewing time! I just returned back from an amazing trip to China with my dance troupe (check us out at http://www.TamarindTribalBellydance.com – and come visit us for Tribal Union this August), and so I haven’t been to the theater lately, but Top Secret was on TV recently, which reminded me just how much I love it.
The Brothers Zucker (David and Jerry) along with Jim Abrahams, were responsible for some of the zaniest spoof comedies on record, including the Naked Gun Series, Hot Shots, and Airplane!
One the very first – after the Police Squad TV series – is the movie Top Secret! It is a spoof of spy movies, and features Val Kilmer in his first film role as an American Rock and Roll singer who accidentally gets caught up in an espionage tale.
Nick Rivers is a very popular American rock star in the 40s, with hits like Skeet Surfin’. He is traveling to East Germany to perform at a cultural festival. Unbeknownst to him, the festival is serving as a front so the East Germans can reunite the country under their harsh rule. While at dinner, Nick meets Hillary Flammond, a member of the resistance. He pretends to be her date, and later encounters her at a ballet, where he saves her from the police but is captured. While captured, he accidentally meets Hillary’s father, who is a great scientist being forced to create a weapon. To avoid an international incident, Nick is told to perform and rescued immediately after by Hillary, who takes him to meet the rest of the resistance. Nick has to deal with an ex-boyfriend of Hillary’s, a group of resistance fighters, an attempt to rescue Dr. Flammond, and a traitor (gasp!).
Honestly, the plot does not matter, as with all ZAZ movies, you are not watching for the plot, you are watching for the insane gags that happen between the storylines. This one includes many: the giant phone, the “Find Him And Kill Him” stamp, the chinstrap, the little German, the little horse, the backwards bookstore, Déjà Vu thinking he’s met someone before, and Chocolate Mousse’s high five. It’s absolutely insane, but the perfect movie to watch on a Saturday afternoon with popcorn when the weather is too questionable to venture out.
- Val Kilmer is young and charming – and does all his own signing, of which there is plenty. He sounds a bit like young Elvis, and is just fantastic.
- Lucy Gutteridge plays Hillary Flammond, and is the perfect over-the-top serious to counter Kilmer’s earnest silly.
- Peter Cushing, yes Grand Moff Tarkin, plays the Swedish bookstore owner. And get this – the cast that was made of his face for the magnifying glass gag was used to help digitally recreate him for Rogue One.
- Christopher Villiers plays Nigel, Hillary’s ex-boyfriend who mysteriously resurfaces as the head of the resistance, determined to do some good for the cause – or is he?
- Michael Gough – one of the top three Alfreds – plays Dr. Paul Flammond.
- Jim Carter plays Déjà vu and Eddie Tagoe plays Chocolate Mousse, two members of the French resistance and easily two of the best-named characters ever.
- And Omar Sharif plays Agent Cedric. Omar Sharif!
Overall, if you haven’t seen it, but you love Airplane and Hot Shots, you need to check it out. In fact – write off the whole evening and watch Airplane, this movie, and Hot Shots right after one another.
8 out of 10 – non-stop nonsense.
Bonus – Hot Shots! Watch Lloyd Bridges steal every scene... that Cary Elwes didn't already steal.