Top Secret!

The Zuckers and Jim Abrahams followed up Airplane! and the awesome (and short-lived) Police Squad show with this spoof of WW2/Cold War espionage films. The story has almost no momentum and runs out of gas, ending abruptly, but how can you knock a movie with so many gut-busting jokes?

Val Kilmer, as Nick Rivers, plays a cross between Elvis and James Dean, an American rock ‘n’ roll star who travels to Germany to perform at a cultural festival–which turns out to be a ruse so that the Nazis can go about their nefarious plans to destroy NATO. Of course, Nick meets Hillary (Gutteridge), a pretty French Resistance (!) fighter whose scientist-father was kidnapped by the Nazis and forced to build for them a doomsday weapon.

Nick aids Hillary and the Resistance to thwart the Nazi’s plans and save her father, blah, blah, blah. What recommends Top Secret! are the hilarious gags that had me doubled over in hysterical fits on more than once: I love the Omar Shariff bit involving the sidewalk party-gag peddler/underground informant, I love Chocolate Mousse (Tagoe) and pretty much anything he says or does in the movie, and Nick’s threat to the Gestapo officer about adding his name to the Montgomery Ward catalogue. Of course, who can resist the cow/bull jokes towards the end? Who but this team of writer-directors can whip up material like this? No one’s got the guts, the sheer sense of comedic anarchy that the Zuckers and Abrahams exhibited so brilliantly in the ’80s and ’90s (with their Naked Gun series) because Hollywood plays it so safe now with its comedies (read: Wedding Crashers was a pile of poop.)

Grade: B

Directed by: Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker
Written by: Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, Martyn Burke
Cast: Val Kilmer, Lucy Gutteridge, Jeremy Kemp, Christopher Villiers, Warren Clarke, Harry Ditson, Jim Carter

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