Top Secret!Closed Captioning
Jim Abrahams, David Zucker & Jerry Zucker
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The second of Zucker-Abraham-Zucker's theatrical-feature spoofs (Airplane was the first, discounting the patchwork Kentucky Fried Movie), Top Secret! lampoons practically every film genre. Specifically, however, this is a hybrid of an "Elvis" movie and a World War II "underground resistance" thriller. In his film debut, Val Kilmer plays Nick Rivers, a Presley-like American rock idol sent behind the Iron Curtain on a goodwill tour. Before long, he is involved in a complex espionage scheme thanks to beautiful Lucy Gutteridge, the daughter of a scientist (Michael Gough) held captive by the Communists. Also essential to the action is flamboyant resistance leader Christopher Villiers, who behaves like Victor Mature in Betrayed (1954) and talks like James Mason. Adhering to Z-A-Z's cheerful disregard for people, places and events, the East Germans are depicted as Nazis, while the Underground is comprised of Frenchmen. The plot is mainly an excuse for the Z-A-Z team's fondness for joke-a-minute lampoonery, skewering cinematic targets ranging from The Blue Lagoon (1980) to The Wizard of Oz (1939). As in Z-A-Z's other efforts, Top Secret! scores its biggest yocks when invoking cliches that we never realized were cliches-and falls on its face whenever attempting a too-obvious gag (the biggest clinker: that pigeon statue in the park). Everyone has his or her favorite bits in this film: our faves include the resistance fighter named Deja Vu ("Haven't we met somewhere before?"), Kilmer's horrible nightmare while being tortured (he arrives too late to take final exams), the army-booted cow, the sensitive Pinto, and the East German National Anthem, sung to the tune of the Shorewood (Wisconsin) High School marching song. But let's say no more: comedy of this nature is designed to be seen, not written or read about.
Movie Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes
- Reviews Counted: 34
- Fresh: 26
- Rotten: 8
- Average Rating: 6.6/10
Top Critics' Reviews
Fresh: Top Secret! comes nowhere near Airplane! but in its own cheerful, low-pressure way, it's about as amiable an entertainment as you will find this summer.
Rotten: This time, though, the creative group has neglected to build to the kind of giddy, everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink climax that made Airplane! such a memorable exercise in anarchy.
Fresh: Secret! shares the same wonderful wacky attitude that allows just about any kind of gag to come flowing in and out of the picture at the strangest times.
Fresh: This movie will cheerfully go for a laugh wherever one is even remotely likely to be found.
There's a gag every minute in this movie...a great addition (thanks Apple!)
It's About Time
I saw this in the theatre when I was young and I still love it! Sure, it's not genius comedy, but if you're looking for a good laugh, it's worth it. It's worth it just for the greatest and most underrated '80's action hero: Chocolate Mousse. Now, if we can get iTunes to carry other Zucker classics like Airplane and The Naked Gun, we'll be in business.
Three words that mean comedy: Zucker, Abrams...and Zucker.
As the oft-forgotten brother of all-time gems like "Airplane!" and "Hot Shots!," "Top Secret!" has never been considered to be as finely crafted as either of these other movies. It's time for a reappraisal of this stance, as this movie is as funny as one could ever hope for in this genre. With a recent surge in wartime pictures, most of which take themselves dead seriously, there's never been a better time to watch this picture. As solid a sendup as anyone could make, "Top Secret!" deflates every pompous notion anyone may have of heroism on film.
- Genre: Comedy
- Released: 2002
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