If the first mission made roughly $ 50 million domestically, the sky could be the limit for this much better sequel -- a clever spoof of "Rambo" and a dozen other movies that employs the usual scattershot "Airplane!" approach but boasts a higher shooting percentage than its forebear. Look out, comedy fans: Fox is coming to get you.
If the first mission made roughly $ 50 million domestically, the sky could be the limit for this much better sequel — a clever spoof of “Rambo” and a dozen other movies that employs the usual scattershot “Airplane!” approach but boasts a higher shooting percentage than its forebear. Look out, comedy fans: Fox is coming to get you.While the first movie got too caught up in “Top Gun” parody and relied on gags that were bordering on stupid, not just silly, the latest raid uses the “Rambo” and “Missing in Action” series to pull the audience along on a movie-parody fun-house ride. Along the way, director Jim Abrahams and executive producer Pat Proft, who co-wrote the screenplay, find time to throw in clever skewerings of numerous other films, among them “Apocalypse Now,”"Casablanca,”"Star Wars,”"The Wizard of Oz,”"No Way Out,”"Basic Instinct,”"The Godfather,”"Terminator 2: Judgment Day” and even “Lady and the Tramp.” Not everything hits the target, but when “Part Deux” is good, it’s very good, and that’s enough to sustain the action through its weaker moments. Some of the set-ups, in fact, evoke more laughs than the payoffs, such as a state dinner where a nauseated U.S. president (Lloyd Bridges) is seated next to his Japanese counterpart. Charlie Sheen, with wild locks and a buffed-up physique, returns as Topper Harley, recruited by a former commander (Richard Crenna, a brilliant bit of casting due to his “Rambo” role) and a stunningly limber CIA agent (Brenda Bakke) to try and rescue U.S. servicemen held prisoner after Desert Storm. The setup allows for a lot of gratuitous Saddam Hussein-bashing while hammering away at conventions of the “Rambo” genre, at one point running an inset “body count” and proclaiming itself the “bloodiest movie ever” in flashing type. Sheen seems more comfortable playing this sort of role, with tongue way in cheek, than he does when playing it straight (as in “Navy SEALs”), while genre regular Bridges again demonstrates what a good sport he can be as the daft, dim-witted president, though that’s one area where the movie at times tediously overplays its hand. Valeria Golino also returns as Sheen’s former love interest (“because,” she explains, “it’s the sequel”), though Bakke, with her impossibly short dresses, serves as the primary ice cube-melting surface this time around. Technically, “Hot Shots!” doesn’t cut corners just because it’s a parody — a key point, since convincing depictions of the various battles, shoot-outs and explosions are crucial in making the gags work by coming close to the originals before veering into the absurd. If anything, some of the scenes are too close to their inspirations, feeling as much like remakes as spoofs and thus diminishing some of the humor. Still, with a mold this familiar it’s impressive to encounter so many belly laughs, and for that “Part Deux” will no doubt be amply rewarded — including, one assumes, a “Part Tres.” By the way, if you haven’t seen “The Crying Game,” don’t read the closing credits. In this comic minefield, nothing is sacred.