Introducing the early Val Kilmer and his uncanny impersonation of Elvis Presley in Top Secret!, the post-Airplane! project from the Abrahams/Zucker comedy team. The collaboration between writers and directors Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker dates back to 1977 when the team wrote The Kentucky Fried Movie (a film I have yet to see) which immediately gained a cult following. And though they have made plenty of movies after that, it’s obvious that their career high was in the ’80s.
It’s the first time rock and roll music has been allowed in Germany and American rock and roll singer Nick Rivers (Val Kilmer doing his fantastic Elvis impersonation) has arrived in the country to perform. During his stay, he becomes entangled in a web of murder and mayhem with the East German High Command. After pairing up with a beautiful mystery woman named Hillary Flammond (Lucy Gutteridge), Nick must find a way of stopping the most dangerous weapon of all — The Polaris Mine.
It’s hilariously messy, frantically pieced together, and places its trust entirely in countless relatively inoffensive jokes rather than a coherent storyline. That is the short and long of Top Secret!, a film that uses all these flaws to its advantage. Without a stimulating storyline, the quick-as-a-wink visual and verbal gags shine bright.
While not on par with their laugh a minute comedy gem Airplane!, Top Secret! dishes out dozens of clever sight gags and hilarious one-liners to be one of the comedy team’s few must-see spoofs. The joint effort in spoofing Elvis, WWII spy thrillers, and westerns may sound incredibly difficult to pull off, but this team maintains a smooth tempo for this kind of loony comedy and jokes seem to come naturally.
There is no stressful thinking required in these type of movies, it just requires a watch-and-enjoy standard of viewing. With a smorgasbord of high-energy comic bits that can either come off as insane or inane (or both) depending on one’s taste, this parody surely doesn’t go without its flat parts — not every joke hits its mark and some are stretched to ridiculous lengths. That being said, there are many scenes that are sure to be funny regardless of taste. Take the ballet scene for example; it’s outrageous, it’s unforgettable, it’s priceless… and hilarious to boot!
There is no telling what flagrant material this team might come up with in the near future, but I doubt it will be as funny as their ’80s supply. Top Secret! is a classic must-have for your collection of ’80s comedy.
Having reviewed two films from the I Love The 80’s collection, I’ve concluded that the special features in the collection are somewhat lacking. Included in the special features for Top Secret! are four alternate scenes, a commentary track with with directors Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker, producers Jon Davison and Hunt Lowry, and moderator Fred Rubin. There are also storyboards, and a theatrical trailer that should only be watched after viewing the feature. It plays like a montage of some of the film’s funniest moments and becomes a spoiler if viewed beforehand. 4.5/5 stars