Top Secret! Movie Review
On the new DVD's commentary track -- the trio behind Airplane!, Hot Shots, and a few other classic (and less classic) parodies -- the ZAZ crew are candid about being less than happy with their work in retrospect, and while the film is certainly dated, I still think it's a real winner.
And I'll prove it:
1) Val Kilmer owns this movie. He sings, he dances, he tells jokes like he was born a Marx brother. Between this and Real Genius, Kilmer proves he was born for comedy, second only to maybe Peter Sellers as the most naturally funny guy alive.
2) The script is funny, too. The punchlines come fast and furiously, and even the ZAZ guys admit there are more gags here than in Airplane! I think they're funnier too. The Airplane! "drinking problem" is humorous but overused in the movie. Top Secret!'s jokes are repeated only once or twice (witness the hilarity of the return of a certain 110-volt electrical device), and rarely do they misfire. This is of course a matter of opinion, but if mocking WWII and Elvis movies together sounds like your cup of tea, you'll probably dig the humor here.
3) The songs -- yes, this is a musical, and Kilmer does all his own singing -- are great. Inspired/borrowed from Beach Boys and Elvis tunes, they're hummable and memorable in their own right.
4) Omar Sharif! And Peter Cushing!
ZAZ guys, give your movie more credit. Sure 12 people on earth have seen it, sure the Elvis genre was well dead by 1984, and sure most of your cast went AWOL the day production wrapped, but this is a genuinely funny film. I heard you laughing on the commentary track -- and we're laughing along with you. I stand by my opinion: Top Secret! makes Airplane! look about as funny as Babette's Feast.