DVD Review: Hot Shots Part Deux

Hot Shots Part Deux is a perfect example of not only a series that died too soon, but also one of a sequel that eclipses the original. Where the original was slightly locked into parodying Top Gun, Part Deux takes on everything that would fit into the script. Jim Abrahams directs this under-appreciated near-masterpiece of a film parody, and provides more comedy than should be legal.

What's notable is that this sequel doesn't offer that many huge laughs. Each one is small. Even with the lack of major jokes, you'll still be just as sore when you're done from all the laughter. This is a movie that offers nearly infinite re-watchability. You'll never catch it all in one sitting.

Obviously an appreciation for the pure schlock of Rambo 3 helps. They even went as far as casting Richard Crenna to replay his own role in that film trilogy, just with an edge of sarcasm and straight for laughs this time. Charlie Sheen is brilliant, and how anyone can keep a straight face with some of this dialogue deserves a feature length documentary. Lloyd Bridges steals the show though. Cast a dumb-as-a-rock president, he plays the role straight with some of the best parody quotes ever written.

Gags come in countless forms, many of which are of course funnier if you know the source material. Some scenes are pulled directly from the film's they're making fun of, but in this context, it works as flawless comedy. The visual gags are probably the highlight. In the first 10 minutes, Sadaam's refrigerator takes a shot at about 20 American products alone.

The only thing now holding back Part Deux is how dated it can be. Upon its release, it was taking shots at Robin Hood, Rambo, and Damme's early work. That doesn't do much for an audience member with a short memory span or unfamiliarity with the source material. It's not a prerequisite that you know where each scene came from. However, it adds an extra layer to the film if you can appreciate how perfect these scenes have been recreated.

While not as good as Airplane or Blazing Saddles, this sequel comes in a little shy of their quality. With the minor gripes aside, this is a film that will stay with you after you see it, and even if you somehow manage not to enjoy it, there's always that one lingering scene in the back of your mind that you know was hysterical. If you're a fan of cheap action movies, Hot Shots Part Deux is your film. (**** out of *****)

Presented on DVD with a deplorable transfer, Hot Shots doesn't stand much of a chance. The grain is unbearable in multiple scenes. Colors are flat, faded, and lack any life. This is a soft, almost blurry presentation. It's hard to see how this is a major step up from a VHS copy at times. It's really that awful, and given how poorly it's presented, it's easy to miss the smaller, less obvious jokes buried in the background. (*)

Sound is only available in Dolby Surround. The 5.1 mixers must have had the day off. Gunfire has little effect on the subwoofer, and explosions sound muted. For of movie attempting to parody some of the loudest movies ever made, it's only expected to feel some explosions. At the very least, dialogue is crisp and occasionally separated nicely. (***)

Two extras (not including a trailer made up entirely of unused footage) are present. Early Awareness is a short three-minute clip that was likely used to promote the film at some point. There's little here of note.

An Adventure in Filmmaking is a parody documentary that even at 22-minutes, is too short. Director Abrahams takes a few shots from himself, mocking his style with hard sarcasm. Some behind-the-scenes footage makes for a brief look at the real process, while the actors take everything seriously for comedic effect. It's a shame the video is even worse than the main feature, but this is a priceless extra regardless. (***)

While there's nothing known on a third sequel, Abrahams is taking over the directorial duties for the fourth Scary Movie. His style still works, and given the number of recent films ready for ripping apart, it looks promising. It's hardly a replacement or excuse for not making a third Hot Shots, but we'll have to take it.

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