Popular and dashing American singer Nick Rivers travels to East Germany to perform in a music festival. When he loses his heart to the gorgeous Hillary Flammond, he finds himself caught up in an underground resistance movement. Rivers joins forces with Agent Cedric and Flammond to attempt the rescue of her father, Dr. Paul, from the Germans, who have captured the scientist in hopes of coercing him into building a new naval mine.
ActorsStarring: Val Kilmer, Lucy Gutteridge, Peter Cushing, Jeremy Kemp, Christopher Villiers, Warren Clarke, Harry Ditson, Jim Carter, Eddie Tagoe, Omar Sharif, Tristram Jellinek, Billy J. Mitchell, Ian McNeice, Michael Gough, Gertan Klauber, John Sharp, Dimitri Andreas, John J. Carney, Marcus Powell
As much as Airplane is the greatest comedy of all time (and I will die on that hill), there aren’t all that many other comedies in the same style. At least, not ones that approach the same quality. It’s pretty much just the Hots Shots duology, The Naked Gun trilogy, and Top Secret. There are a few others out there like pretty much everything else Leslie Nielsen was in after Airplane, but they’re not quite as funny. Top Secret does take itself a bit more seriously than the other films I’ve mentioned, but not by much.
The main difference here is that the jokes aren’t quite non-stop. That’s not to say they’re far apart, they’re not, but it isn’t quite the same constant stream as Airplane. And it doesn’t have that same modern(ish) setting as The Naked Gun. But that’s actually one of the jokes; Top Secret somehow seems to take place in the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s all at the same time and it works, which is just a treat. And the joke structure as a whole is very similar to these other films despite not being as consistent. There are direct jokes, setting jokes, background jokes, and more. This is definitely a film where you won’t catch everything on your first viewing.
One thing that really sticks out is the plot. In Airplane and Hot Shots, the plot doesn’t matter. The Hot Shots movies parody Top Gun and Rambo while Airplane is Airplane. Yeah, The Naked Gun has a fairly important plot (comparatively), but Top Secret makes it even more relevant. And I think this really comes down to Top Secret being a parody of a spy thriller. The genre forces this movie to have a villain, a good one too who’s just as funny as the protagonists. And as far as characters go, a bunch of fun cameos are littered throughout the cast. I will watch anything with Peter Cushing, no matter how minor his role (another hill I will die on).
I probably laughed more watching this film than any other comedy I’ve seen in the last couple of years. Fun fact: Top Secret is Weird Al’s favorite comedy. If that’s not enough of an endorsement, I don’t know what is. And considering all that, I’m kind of surprised it took as long as it did for this movie to fall onto my radar. Best I can tell, it just doesn’t have the same renown as something like Airplane. But despite that, it is very much worth the time for anyone who likes tickling their funny bone.