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‘Hot Shots! Part Deux’

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
May 21, 1993


Jim Abrahams
Charlie Sheen;
Cary Elwes;
Valeria Golino;
Richard Crenna;
Brenda Bakke;
Lloyd Bridges
potty humor and sex jokes

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Lots of what passes -- or rather is passed -- for humor in "Hot Shots! Part Deux" could be cured with Rolaids. A massive dose of saltpeter would take care of the rest. In other words, it's got the smell of a summer blockbuster written all over it. Bawdy, bratty and burp-riddled, it's a predictably idiotic follow-up.

Director Jim Abrahams, who took a swat at the flyboy genre in Part Un, turns less successfully to Saddam Hussein and Persian guff this time out. Abrahams and co-writer Pat Proft aim their loglike lampoon at the "going in to get the guys" genre, particularly the macho puffery of "Rambo III." There are also no less blatant sendups of scenes from "Casablanca," "Apocalypse Now," "The Godfather, "Star Wars" and "Lady and the Tramp."

Abrahams, who directed "Airplane!" and "The Naked Gun" with the Zucker brothers and Proft, the man behind the night shtick of the "Police Academy" series, deliver a familiarly fast-paced barrage of jokes that range from side-splittingly sophomoric to nauseatingly lame. In more than one instance, they are, of course, one and the same. Gags that make you gag.

Charlie Sheen is back as macho action icon Topper Harley. No longer a top gun, Harley is newly bulked up and chest-hairless for a mission pitting him against Saddam and Hillary Rodham Hussein. Saddam, a lisping cross-dresser on intimate terms with his Dustbuster, has already foiled three rescue attempts when Topper is recruited at the behest of Gen. Tug Benson (Lloyd Bridges), who has been elected president in the sequel.

Topper, who is nursing a broken heart in a Buddhist monastery -- where the monks "have taken a vow of celibacy, just like their fathers and their fathers before them" -- takes on the assignment only after learning that a former commander, Col. Denton Walters (Richard Crenna), is now missing somewhere between "Iraq and a Hard Place." His depilated pecs peeking through garlands of bandoleers, Topper parachutes into the incongruous jungles of Iraq, scrambles through a Beverly Hills back-yard barbecue and finally winds up behind enemy lines on the grounds of Saddam's palace.

The owner of a puffy pooch, Saddam is a silly savage in his slippers with turned-up toes -- doubtless the filmmakers' comment on the homoeroticism inherent in the action genre rather than just another cheap shot. If Saddam is several beans short of a bag, President Benson is an empty sack. Benson -- "Hot Shots' " answer to Leslie Nielsen in "The Naked Gun" -- is played with magnificent boobery by Bridges, whose reenactment of the presidential sushi-puking incident provides a bona fide belly laugh.

Most self-respecting action guys don't much go for girls, but Topper enjoys a billet-deux in le sequel. Not only is he reunited with his love interest, Ramada (Valeria Golino), but he also knocks boots with a CIA glamour puss (Brenda "Hardbodies II" Bakke) in nutty spoofs of "No Way Out" and "Basic Instinct." Sheen, who has the sex appeal of a meatloaf here, brings a Stallonesque lunkishness to the scenes, which, like the movie itself, are Sly in name only. God help me, I laughed and slapped my thighs.

"Hot Shots! Part Deux" is rated PG-13 for potty humor and sex jokes.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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