Hot Shots!

Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
Hot Shots! Movie Poster Image
Daffy flight with the Airplane! crew; some crudeness.
  • PG-13
  • 1991
  • 84 minutes

Parents say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 4 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Evil-businessman subplot about greedy American defense contractors plotting deadly sabotage to US planes to increase their own profits, and how a Navy official (briefly) goes along with the scheme. It's so lost in the gags you might not even notice it's there. Enemy pilots are apparently Iraqi and have stereotypical Arabic attributes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Not much character development in a parody in which protagonists are all mockeries of movie stereotypes and Hollywood heroism, with a recurring theme being the undermining of the "macho" pilots in Top Gun. As in the target Tom Cruise movie, the leading man and the leading lady have premarital sex. By and large, the sense is that military-service movies -- rather than the military values themselves -- are being mocked.


Silly slapstick, practically like a cartoon (at one point Topper gets electrocuted and you see an animated skeleton). An ill-fated pilot nicknamed "Dead Meat" suffers a series of comical catastrophes (including being hit by an ambulance) that result in his death. A barroom brawl (unrealistic and jokey), plane crashes, men set on fire.


Girls clad in underwear or lingerie. A piano player looks up the skirt of the sexy heroine. Double-entendre dirty jokes, a vulgar proverb about family incest. A warplane called the "Phallus." A lengthy scene (parodying the racy drama 9 1/2 Weeks) in which the unmarried hero and heroine use food as foreplay prior to having sex (itself not shown).


The f-word once, in a subtitle. God's name in vain, the s-word a few times. "Crap," "hell," "piss," "ass."


Honda motorcycles, references to Disneyland. Tacit references to other (often R-rated) movies such as 9 1/2 Weeks and The Godfather.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A bar riot erupts at a call of "free beer." Comedic inhaling of helium to create high voices.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this broad spoof of Top Gun and other Hollywood fare includes some raunchy material, primarily a takeoff on the kinky sex-foreplay scenes from the erotic drama 9 1/2 Weeks (there's no nudity here, though).  Off-color verbal humor includes a proverb that involves incest, a joke about “balls,” and scattered swearing with the f-word (in a printed subtitle), the s-word, and assorted "hells," "damns," etc. Violence is very cartoonish and unrealistic, the level of a Bugs Bunny cartoon, practically. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 15 years old Written byDogcat May 7, 2021
This is WHY our dvr recording space was 99% full, but it isn’t anymore.
Teen, 15 years old Written bySarahLikesMovies December 21, 2020



What's the story?

The same parody specialists behind the hit disaster-movie takeoff Airplane! later flew to box-office success with HOT SHOTS! It's a similarly nonsensical satire of military-service-pilot dramas, most obviously Top Gun. Twice-told plot concerns young Navy jet-fighter "Topper" Harley (Charlie Sheen), haunted by his own reckless ways and his pilot-father's bad reputation, who goes back to serve on an aircraft carrier full of silly nicknames and character traits (a pilot dubbed "Washout" who can barely see, etc.) Complications include Topper's romance with a sexy base psychotherapist and a conspiracy by a greedy defense contractor to sabotage the Navy's new generation of jet aircraft.

Is it any good?

This is a fun ride with some of moviedom's most able parodists. Takeoffs on Dances With Wolves, The Fabulous Baker Boys, Saddam Hussein, George W. Bush and his "no new taxes" pledge, practically everything that was topical in the early 1990s, tend to date this put-on, though, and the disposable plot is pretty disjointed. These filmmakers put on celluloid what many classic issues of the adolescent favorite Mad Magazine did on the printed page with movie sendups, and the deadpan, rapid-fire jokes and sight gags continue right down to the text of the closing credits.

Even the more risque material has an innocent make-'em-laugh quality; yes, characters swear, but the real payoffs are the dialogue puns, the fluffy pink bunny slippers incongruously worn by Topper, or the tire squeals heard whenever a plane turns sharply.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the appeal of parodies. Ask kids if they like them better than more conventional comedies with real characters and original beginnings, middles, and endings.

  • Point out how the filmmakers used actors who would usually be imagined as stalwart heroes. How would Hot Shots! have worked with a more traditional funnyman, such as Ben Stiller or Adam Sandler?

  • Discuss the other movies spoofed in Hot Shots! You can use this film to inspire kids to watch some of non-Top Gun flyboy melodramas and tragedies of yesteryear (meant to be taken very seriously) like Only Angels Have Wings and Twelve O'Clock High.

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love silly movies

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate