Sunday, September 30, 2012

An Open Letter to Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer: "Hot Shots! Part Deux" (1993)

Dear Mr. Friedberg and Mr. Seltzer, How are you? I am fine. I am writing to tell you about the very funny movie "Hot Shots! Part Deux." Seen it, you say? Well, sirs, I doubt that considering you two are responsible for the abominations known as "Meet the Spartans," "Disaster Movie," and "Epic Movie."

"Hot Shots! Part Deux" takes up where "Hot Shots!" left off. While the first film skewered "Top Gun," this one takes aim at the "Rambo" series of films, among others. Topper Harley (Charlie Sheen) is now in a Buddhist monastery. He is called back into action by Colonel Walters (Richard Crenna) and sexy CIA babe Michelle (Brenda Bakke) to rescue the captured squad of soldiers who went in to rescue the captured squad of soldiers who went in to rescue a captured squad of soldiers from the Persian Gulf War. Bumbling President Benson (the hysterical Lloyd Bridges) is in charge of the operation (when he can figure it out). Harley is still pining for lost love Ramada (Valeria Golina), and finds out why she left him at the station instead of boarding the train with him to Honolulu. Along with Commander Harbinger (Miguel Ferrer), communications expert Williams (Michael Colyar), and explosives expert Rabinowitz (Ryan Stiles), Topper parachutes into the Iraq/Iran border jungle, eventually running into Saddam Hussein (Jerry Haleva) himself.

Jason and Aaron, I feel we can be on familiar terms considering the violation I felt watching "Meet the Spartans", director Jim Abrahams and co-writer Pat Proft have delivered an almost perfect spoof film. It does not equal the brilliance of "Airplane!" (ooh, you should rent that one, too!), but it is still a five-star film. Why? Because it's funny.

"Hot Shots! Part Deux" is everything your films are, except it gets laughs. This film is violent, but it is cartoonish violence and actually makes an anti-war statement. It has some very funny sex scenes and references. It makes light of Middle Eastern people, but not in a mean-spirited way. It strikes a nice balance in that it also makes fun of Americans, our war flicks, and our meddling in foreign affairs. You should rent this on DVD so you can freeze frame here and there and actually catch some things you miss upon the first viewing- like the picture of Saddam accepting a giant U.S. aid check or the box labels in the background when Harbinger breaks down. Also, no one yells out a pop culture name so your stupid audience will know who you are mocking. The cast plays this deadly serious, and that is part of the comedy. Many films are spoofed: "Lady and the Tramp," "Basic Instinct," "No Way Out," and more. However, not once does a cast member yell "hey, it's the American Gladiators!" or "look, this same thing happened in a 'Star Wars' film!" If your films' fans (whoever they may be) know their pop culture, they will pick up on the joke.

The special effects are cheap and foolish-looking, again, because it's funny. The screenplay rockets along, barely letting the viewer catch their breath. This is not predictable or boring. The film makers do take the low road here and there, going crass and vulgar, but it still works and still had me giggling. I only wish another "Hot Shots!" sequel would come out now, not written by you, so you could maybe see it on the big screen.

In closing, I hope this finds you well, I see you are planning another "Scary Movie"'s not too late to go to your video store and rent the work of the Zucker brothers and Jim Abrahams. Challenge yourselves by rising to their level. You have the means and studio support, but all you could muster in "Meet the Spartans" was gay jokes?

Sincerely, Mr. Tatum (I feel I earned the respect, I didn't charge you with assault after watching your work). (* * * * *) out of five stars.