Friday, April 18, 2014

HOT SHOTS! PART DEUX (1993)

The story this time is pretty much RAMBO III where Topper Harley (Charlie Sheen) is now a ripped Buddhist monk/stick fighter in Thailand.  A military Colonel Walters (played by Richard Crenna, who also played Colonel Trautman in RAMBO III) asks Topper to sneak into Iraq and save some POW's.  He initially refuses, but after Walters himself is taken prisoner at the same camp, Topper agrees to go in.  Along the way he runs into his old flame from the first film, Valeria Golino, but by now he's having a fling with a supersexy CIA operative played by the supersexy Brenda Bakke.

Part Deux is, of course, directly related to the original HOT SHOTS!, but since they shifted gears away from TOP GUN and parody more on the Rambo franchise it feels really fresh with tons of new material to mine for jokes.  The humor is more absurd, the story broader, Charlie Sheen is probably the funniest he's ever been, Lloyd Bridges is hilarious, even Richard Crenna (who I've never thought of as a comedic actor) was surprisingly funny and the beautiful Brenda Bakke's presence didn't hurt anything...except the tensile strength of my pants crotchitoldal area!

As enjoyable as the first film is, I think Part Deux might be just a little bit better.  To be sure I better go rewatch them both.

Part 1 - Hot Shots!

HOT SHOTS! (1991)

Following in the footsteps of parody classics like AIRPLANE! and the NAKED GUN series comes HOT SHOTS! a parody spoof of TOP GUN and various military movies.  The story, if it even matters, is about a retired fighter pilot Topper Harley (Charlie Sheen) whose fighter pilot father died disgracefully during a mission and was responsible for his co-pilot's death.  These memories haunt Topper, so when the Navy recalls him for a special mission they also send him to get some therapy.  Topper falls in love with his sexy therapist and has a rivalry with another hot shot pilot who thinks Topper is bad for the team.

Being an old bastard I remember seeing this when it first came out on VHS and laughing my ass off.  Watching it again now two-hundred years later it's still funny.  Humor like this is pretty timeless, especially when you've seen the films that it's parodying.  Most of the jokes are physical or have to do with military films, but there's some other stuff thrown in there like the COOL AS ICE motorcycle flirting scene that had me cracking up. 

If you enjoy stuff like AIRPLANE!, then you know what to expect: nonstop jokes hitting you so fast you'll have to watch it multiple times just to catch them all.  The good thing is they're so funny you won't mind watching it again.

Part Deux - Hot Shots! Part Deux

Thursday, April 17, 2014

THE RETURN (2003)

Two teenage brothers are surprised one day when their father, whom they've never known, suddenly returns home.  The mother quietly accepts him.  To get acquainted the father proposes that he takes the two boys on a fishing road trip.  The boys are both very excited, but soon learn their father has a dark side.

THE RETURN, by first time director, Andrei Zvyagintsev, is a very good film.  All you have to do is just watch the screen for the first few minutes to understand there's a lot of talent involved with this movie both behind the camera and in front of it.  The pace might be a little slow for some viewers, but I think the gradual build up suits the story very well.  Yeah the ending is a little vague, but if you pay attention (especially to the subjects of the photographs at the end) I think you'll find a satisfying answer.  And that brings us to the acting...holy fook.  The kid who plays Ivan (Ivan Dobronravov) was amazing!  His performance was so authentic that at times it almost felt like I was watching a documentary instead of a fictional movie.  The praises for young Ivan shouldn't subtract from the others actors though, the entire cast was incredible.  As impressive the acting and the story were though, the thing that I liked most was the photography.  THE RETURN is a beautiful film.  Turn your eyes away for just a moment and you might might miss a gorgeous shot.

As far as slower-paced, arthouse films go THE RETURN is sure to please its intended audience.  Recommended.