Top Secret! Review
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Back in 1984, the Cold War raged on—and a young Val Kilmer ventured into enemy territory to bring down the Iron Curtain…through song.

In the spy spoof, Top Secret!, Kilmer stars as Nick Rivers, an American pop sensation—known for such hits as “Skeet Surfin’” and “Skeet City”—who’s sent to East Germany (remember when there was an East Germany?) to perform at an important festival. But while all eyes are on the festival and its big-name performers, the East Germans are secretly plotting to retake control of Germany using a deadly new weapon.

Shortly after arriving in East Germany, Nick meets Hillary Flammond (Lucy Gutteridge), the beautiful daughter of Dr. Paul Flammond (Michael Gough), the renowned scientist whom the East Germans have imprisoned and forced to do their dirty work.

  
 
Determined to help Hillary (because…well…she’s hot), Nick soon finds himself running from the police and working with The Resistance (and its leader, who’s known only as The Torch) in an attempt to rescue Dr. Flammond and stop the East Germans from carrying out their evil plan.

When I was in high school, this spy movie / Elvis adventure spoof was one of my favorite comedies—probably because it’s just plain silly, but it’s often surprisingly smart, too (a bit like a Monty Python sketch). While Top Secret! may have more than its share of goofiness (like my personal favorite scene: two men disguised as a cow…wearing boots), it’s filled with clever puns and witty sight gags, too. There’s always something going on in the background—and, each time you watch, you’ll catch something new.

But, at the same time, you definitely don’t have to be a nerdy high school kid with a penchant for puns to enjoy this goofy spoof. As you might expect from the directors of Airplane!, there’s plenty of sophomoric (and often crude) humor and physical comedy—from singing horses to over-the-top musical numbers. There are all kinds of random ‘80s pop culture references, too—so it helps if you were around in 1984; else, some of the humor will quite likely fly right over your head.

What makes Top Secret! stand out, though, is that it’s more than just a haphazard spoof. Many of today’s spoofs—movies like the mind-numbing Disaster Movie—are little more than a bunch of uncreative sketches, loosely strung together with little plot (if any). But Top Secret! offers its own story—albeit a silly and somewhat random one. And that helps to hold viewers’ attention from the first gag until the last.

Though it doesn’t seem quite as brilliant or hilarious today as it did years ago, during my repeated after-school viewings, Top Secret! is still a clever and crazy comedy. It’s a zany trip down Memory Lane that’s worth taking.


DVD Review:
Paramount’s new I Love the ‘80s DVD release of Top Secret! offers a few fun extras. There are four deleted scenes, some storyboards, and a commentary with all three directors and two producers (along with a moderator to keep everybody on track). The commentators do some reminiscing about the filmmaking process and point out a number of gags and gaffes that you may have missed—all the while giggling at their own jokes. They have plenty of interesting stories to tell, too—like their opening story about their dinner with Omar Sharif.

The best thing about the release, though, is the four-song ‘80s CD (featuring Echo & the Bunnymen, Erasure, INXS, and a-ha) that comes with it. Together, the movie and the extra CD make for a fun ‘80s flashback.

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