Wednesday, September 2, 2015

1984 - TOP SECRET, the follow up to the comedy Airplane

The followup to the Zucker, Abrahams, Zucker (ZAZ) hit Airplane is essentially the same formula as that film.  Load the story up with lots of scenes from different films and parody the crap out of them with lots and lots of jokes because it doesn't matter if some of the jokes are bad or poor you can be guaranteed that some jokes will hit their targets.

For Top Secret the ZAZ team decided to mix an Elvis movie with a World War II spy movie and set  it in contemporary East Berlin (still divided at the time this was filmed).  For the first hour or so everything seems to be working fairly well.  The jokes are mostly funny and the cast appears to be enjoying itself.  However at the halfway point, it's clear that the comedy starts to get less and less as the cleverness of the jokes descends into even more juvenile humor and lots of very tiresome and politically incorrect gay jokes which even managed to offend me.  By the end of the film Top Secret is so out of ideas the best it can come up with is a lame western saloon fight parody and a stupid Wizard of Oz joke.

The ZAZ team had everything going for it with this.  Christopher Challis was the director of photography, Maurice Jarre scored the music and a good supporting cast which featured Omar Scharif, Peter Cushing, Jeremy Kemp and Michael Gough.  Val Kilmer played the Elvis Presley like star Nick Rivers and he seemed to understand the material better than the writers.

Top Secret probably proved that the Zucker, Abrahams, Zucker formula of parodying old movies like they were on steroids may have been a one hit wonder.  Their subsequent films like Scary Movie 3, Scary Movie 4, and Scary Movie 5 only drive home the point of a comedy team out of ideas for the most part.

90 minutes

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