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Silly spy spoof delivers near-nonstop stream of laughs.
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Tomatometer®reviews counted: 14see all Top Secret! reviews
Top Critic Reviews
Fresh: Memorable both for its spoofing of a wacky combination of Elvis movies, spy movies and Second World War intrigue films and for the fact that it's Val Kilmer's film debut.
- Brian Webster, Apollo Guide, Thursday, June 24, 2010
Absolutely genius. Laugh after stomach hurting laugh.
- TomBowler, Saturday, August 21, 2010
"I'm not the first guy who fell in love with a woman that he met at a restaurant who turned out to be the daughter of a kidnapped scientist only to lose her to her childhood lover who she last saw on a deserted island who then turned out fifteen years later to be the leader of the French underground." Throughout the 1980s, the writer-director team of Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker inarguably ruled the realm of spoof comedy, and 1986's Top Secret! is a prime example of the unparalleled abilities of the ZAZ trio during their golden years. For those familiar with the first ZAZ feature, Airplane!, the trademark Abrahams/Zucker style of comedy needs no real introduction. For those unfamiliar with the style, It's quite simply spoofing and satire at its silliest and very best. While Airplane! shouldered the task of introducing the trio's unique brand of humour, Top Secret! was created when movie-goers were aware of what to expect from these guys, and thus the trio had the freedom to just enjoy themselves. Though it's neither as well remembered nor as funny as Airplane! or The Naked Gun!, Top Secret! definitely earns a revered place among the '80s spoof-fests these three men created. Top Secret! skewers a variety of targets - predominantly Elvis musicals, pop idols of the '50s, and World War II espionage thrillers. Val Kilmer (in his movie debut) stars as Nick Rivers; an American rock n' roll singer who is invited behind the Iron Curtain to perform at an East German music festival during WWII. From there, he meets the beautiful Hillary Flammond (Gutteridge); a member of the French Resistance whose scientist father has been kidnapped and is being forced to create a powerful weapon. So it's up to Nick, Hillary and their French rebel companions (Chocolt Mousse, Souffl, Montage, Dj vu, Latrine, and the rest of the gang) to foil the dastardly plot. During the early days of the movie's development, one member of the ZAZ trio wanted to develop a spoof of World War II German spy films, while another was busy having fun writing a spoof of B-grade Elvis Presley flicks. Realising the boundless comic potential of both genres, and not being able to choose between the two of them, they eventually opted to combine the stories and simultaneously parody both genres. Added to this, nothing from The Great Escape to Casablanca is safe. The guys even serve up a lampoon of The Blue Lagoon, and oddball references to everything from The Wizard of Oz to Pac-Man! Naturally, the entire so-called plot is a straightforward exercise to set up a variety of set-pieces, jokes, sight gags and even song parodies, with the silliness factor increasing exponentially throughout the film's runtime. It goes without saying that it may not be comedy gold for everyone, but if it is...aye carumba, it's the mother lode! Almost everything witnessed onscreen is a joke, with a plethora of sight gags, plenty of witty lines, and various puns mixed together for good measure. The beauty of the style adopted by the ZAZ trio is that they don't expect every one of the gags to be a comedic homerun - as with the trio's previous efforts, the kitchen sink approach applies, where so many jokes are thrown out at an alarmingly constant rate that even if only 1 in 10 jokes register, you'll still be laughing constantly. Like any comedy, not everything works, but a fair amount of the gags work in a tremendous way. An interesting fact to note about Top Secret! is that it marked Val Kilmer's very first starring role in a Hollywood movie. Even though this is his debut, all the trademark Kilmer acting traits are in attendance. The actor clearly enjoyed himself in the role of Nick Rivers as he treads the fine line between hamming it up and playing it deadpan. Added to this, Kilmer has a surprisingly great singing voice, and he performed all of his own songs here. It's not difficult to see why he was the perfect choice to play Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone's The Doors several years later - he is indeed both a talented actor and a skilled singer. In all likelihood, Top Secret! will be forever overshadowed by its brethren (Airplane! and The Naked Gun!), but, in this reviewer's humble opinion, it stacks up incredibly well alongside them. It's a funny, energetic, easy-spirited and enjoyable comedy which makes you smile due to its juvenile charm, and holds up tremendously well over repeated viewings. Granted, the story has almost no momentum, the film is clearly low-budget and it's just fluffy fun, but how can you knock a movie with so many gut-busting jokes? If you like to laugh (and, let's face it, who doesn't?), you owe it to yourself to check out Top Secret!. Watch it pronto, or else I'll put your name on the Montgomery Ward mailing list...
- PvtCaboose91, Saturday, May 1, 2010