Daffy flight with the Airplane! crew; some crudeness.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
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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.
- In theaters: July 31, 1991
- On DVD or streaming: August 6, 2002
- Cast: Cary Elwes, Charlie Sheen, Valeria Golino
- Director: Jim Abrahams
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 84 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- Last updated: October 8, 2022
Our Editors Recommend
Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines
Top gun of slapstick early-aviation comedies.
Snakes on a Plane
Bloody B-movie spoof isn't for kids.
Explosion movie is too violent for little ones.
Raunchy comedy for adults only.
WWI pilots make like heroes in bland adventure.
Air Force One
Ford makes farfetched action-hero-prez electable.
For kids who love silly movies
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