It's been a long time since I've seen "Hot Shots!" - given that the kind of Bruckheimer-produced action fare that it parodies is still alive and well today, the jokes still work as well as they did on the first viewing. "Hot Shots!" isn't the greatest spoof of all time and it's not as funny as the "Naked Gun" movies occasionally were. However, what separates "Hot Shots!" and the "Gun" movies from most comedies is that it comes from Jim Abrahams, part of the Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker team that did "Airplane", the "Naked Gun" series and "Top Secret". While none of these movies offered jokes that were consistently funny, the movies still gets laughs thanks to the remarkable sense of comedic timing (and skill with funny sound effects) that the group displayed in their efforts.
The film stars Charlie Sheen as Topper Harley, a pilot who left the Air Force years ago and now lives on an Indian reservation. In an amusing parody of "Dances With Wolves", a commanding officer arrives at the reservation to ask him to return to duty for a secret and potentially dangerous mission. As with the rest of the Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker (although this is only an Abrahams film) pictures, there's just enough story to hang the jokes upon and quite a few jokes to throw out. Although not all of the gags work wonderfully, there are some inspired moments and even a few bad jokes that are sold well enough by the actors to work. Plenty of sight gags and little bits fill out the flick.
The performances aren't half bad, either. Sheen, who is surprisingly funny when he wants to be, really proves that he has decent comedic timing and slapstick skills here. He's accompanied by a fine supporting cast, including Valeria Golino as the romantic interest and the always-amusing Cary Elwes as his rival. Lloyd Bridges, however, steals every scene he's in. "Hot Shots" is still good stuff ten years later - it even succeeds during some of its lesser moments because the cast seems to be having so much fun.
VIDEO: "Hot Shots" is presented by Fox in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Although this certainly isn't a terrible presentation, I was surprised to find that it merely looks okay. Sharpness and detail aren't great, but the picture does vary from appearing noticably soft to decently crisp.
The biggest problem the presentation has to contend with is wear. Although the print used isn't terrible, it's a bit rougher than I'd expect from a movie that's only a little over ten years old. Some minor specks, slight marks and a couple of instances of dirt appeared fairly frequently over the course of the film. On a positive note, no pixelation was noticed and only a couple of slight bits of edge enhancement were seen. Colors fared okay, as they appeared a little smeary in a couple of sequences. Overall, a decent presentation, but a bit less than what I was expecting.
SOUND: "Hot Shots!" is presented with a new Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Although most of the soundtrack suffers from the lack of ambition usually found in comedy soundtracks, there's actually a few decent instances of surround use. Music, dialogue and sound effects remained crisp and clear throughout.
MENUS: Basic menus with no animation or other touches.
EXTRAS: A short "making of" featurette, the film's trailer and trailers for a few other Fox comedies.
Final Thoughts: Although Fox's DVD presentation is less than what I'd expected or what I think the movie deserves, the fact that this often hilarious film can be found for around $14.99 makes for an easy recommendation.
The Film ***