Picks and Pans Review: Hot Shots!

updated 08/12/1991 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/12/1991 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Charlie Sheen, Valeria Golino

You have to go back to The Naked Gun 2 l/2 to find a satirical movie comedy this funny. True, Naked Gun 2½ only showed up a few weeks ago, but why quibble?

Loosely structured as a parody of Top Gun, the plot has Sheen as an ace fighter pilot, Golino (Rain Man) as a shrink, Cary Elwes as the squadron straight arrow and Lloyd Bridges as officer in command of a mission vaguely related to war in the Middle East.

Plot isn't an issue though. This is stream-of-consciousness humor—the only good sequitur is a non sequitur:

•Sheen is first discovered living on an Indian reservation, and the local medicine man makes him a present of a leather jacket, noting, "Dances with Bikers got this for you."

•Jon Cryer is a pilot who can't understand how he got the nickname Wash Out, even though being walleyed tends to affect his flying ability.

•Out of nowhere, Golino asks Sheen, "What do you do with an elephant with three balls?" When he doesn't know, she tells him, "Walk him and pitch to the rhino."

•In a fantasy reverie where Golino and Sheen do romantic bits from famous movies, Sheen shows up in a Supermanlike outfit, complete with standard-issue Christopher Reeve spit curl. There's also a marvelous parody of the sadomasochistic eating scene from 9½ Weeks, with Sheen stuffing a whole pizza into Golino's mouth.

•As the closing credits roll, various jokes are interspersed, including a list of things to do after the movie, such as "start a story hour at the local library."

Sheen looks a little like Tom Cruise, is amusingly earnest and is the only actor who has a personal makeup man listed in the credits, though Golino still comes off prettier. She's a charming comedian too, and her deadpan style mixes effectively with Sheen and Bridges's broad, slapstick approach.

Now for the tough part, explaining the movie's pedigree.

It was directed by Jim Abrahams, sometime directing partner of David Zucker, who did The Naked Gun 2½. It was cowritten by Pat Proft, who also cowrote Naked Gun 2½. Abrahams, Proft and David Zucker used to work with Jerry Zucker, who not only had nothing to do with Naked Gun 2½ but also has nothing to do with Hot Shots!

Next: how Rocky Bridges is related to Lloyd, Jeff and Beau. (PG-13)

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