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Friday, 25 August 2017

Retro Review: Top Secret! (1984)

Top Secret!
Cast: Val Kilmer, Lucy Gutteridge, Christopher Villiers, Omar Shariff, Peter Cushing
Genre: Action Comedy Parody
U.S Box Office Gross: over $20 million

Plot:  An American rock & roll singer becomes involved in a Resistance plot to rescue a scientist imprisoned in East Germany

'Not As Funny As Critics Billed It As'

I am just going to get right off the bat and say that as a comedy film, Top Secret was very underwhelming and did not live up to its promise, nor do I agree fully with professional movie reviewers who claim this to be very, very funny. Because it is not. 

The film also marks the cinematic debut of Val Kilmer, who has since gone on to star in movies such as The Doors, Top Gun, Batman Forever and Heat to name. In one of his less serious offerings, Kilmer plays a pop star, Nick Rivers with a crooning voice akin to Elvis who is recruited to stop communism, whilst at a stop in East Germany. 

As a movie, nothing fell into place and the comedy and humour were so few and far between and not consistent. It was virtually flat. It tries to be a spy spoof, a bit like Paul Faris's Spy - only that film was far funnier, and here in Top Secret! with musical and dance numbers added. But as there was so little humour, everything else was played dead straight and the pacing was incredibly slow and quite frankly, this made the film extremely boring to boot, as the story wasn't that inviting either. 

I just wasn't feeling this one as much as I'd hoped I would do and thus, I am extremely disappointed that it's from the Zucker Bros and Jim Abrahams who did wonders with Naked Gun, Airplane, Hot Shots 1 & 2 and Ruthless People: comedies that I loved dearly. This was a misstep and thankfully, the rest of their efforts since this movie came out, went a couple of steps better.

Top Secret is a little different from Naked Gun and Airplane as it functions as a spy crime film, alongside the humour. The sight gags weren't as funny and didn't make me laugh hard, well, excluding the noughts and crosses gag and the French Black guy by the hilarious moniker/name of Chocolate Mousse - daft name for a character, and yet he was funny and amusing and it was a shame he didn't appear soon enough to provide more of those types of moments. He was like a skinnier version of Mr T from The A Team. But apart from that, Top Secret! was virtually flat. Val Kilmer's performance was not bad; his singing was really good, but beyond that, the film didn't go beyond that to keep me entertained, amused and invest interest. Although the abrupt ending didn't do the movie much justice, either. 

Top Secret! felt like all the scraps and least effective jokes that were left out of Airplane! that didn't make the cut were cut and pasted into this film. It was that type of movie and it just didn't measure up. 

One is better off skipping the rest and to watch the funny and best scenes on Youtube. For a film labelled as a parody comedy, this one was far from it.

Final Verdict

Very few laughs to be found and it just wasn't the laugh riot that I'd expected this to be, and I can understand now why this film hasn't caught on like with Naked Gun and Airplane & isn't up there along with those movies. The so-called rapid-fire comedy the Zucker Bros have been alluding to, never transpired and inconsistent berths; that, and it just never seemed to get going, right from the start. 

The Zucker Bros and Jim Abrahams struck comedy gold with Airplane & Naked Gun, but here, understandably given why it is overlooked Top Secret! sorely lacks any comedic timing and consistent hilarity that made those movies instantly memorable.  


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