Top Secret! (Jim Abraham, David & Jerry Zucker, 1984)
From the creators of Airplane! comes this new comedy mixing Elvis’ movies, spy flicks, and comedy. Set in East Germany during the Cold War, Nick Rivers (Val Kilmer) the American star of Rock n’Roll is invited to play at a concert to show how the East is opened to international music. The whole story evolves around this stereotyped character using all his charms and songs to save his ass and the lady.
The Abraham/Zuckers team presents a funny but lower than Airplane! quality amusement with Top Secret!. The whole thing gets old and gets on the nerves after the second or third song. We kind of understand the point that they are mocking Elvis’s movies for their lack of quality and the below average songs wagon they were.
On the side of the comedy, some gags are better than others but they were so imitated and stolen from this film that today a fresh viewer could predict a good 75% of them. Some are very efficient and the contextualization of them is well done. It’s just that the formula is now textbook for comedies and that the jokes influenced shows like The Simpsons, Family Guy and many movies to follow. It made me realize how humour doesn’t need to be about penises and vulgarities to be funny and/or efficient. Sure, there are some jokes falling in that category but compared to the Judd Apatow pedestrian comedies, we are in more decent terms here.
Anyhow, I felt like if the movie wasn’t as inspired as Airplane! was. Moreover, it was duller and despite some excellent moments I’d wished for a better story to hold the jokes together and I just wish I’d seen this when it came out to compare it to the comedies of its time and how it was original.