For my money, the first "Hot Shots!" movie was the best off-the-wall parody flick to come out of Hollywood in a decade since the first "Airplane!" (Yes, I liked it more than the "Naked Gun" pictures.)
So, it's perhaps inevitable that I'd be somewhat disappointed in "Hot Shots! Part Deux," which does have a number of hilarious moments but which, on the whole, feels less satisfying than the original.
Charlie Sheen is back as Topper Harley, this time pumped up to do a "Rambo" takeoff (right down to having Richard Crenna as a co-star), primarily crossed with plotting from "Casablanca." But, of course, there are comic zings aimed at some 40 other movies as well.
The plot as if it mattered has Topper being summoned back into action by the president, his former commanding officer, Tug Benson (Lloyd Bridges). The mission is to rescue hostages from the Desert Storm action. (As a map shows, the hostages are being kept in a prison camp between "Iraq" and "A Hard Place.")
So, the film opens with a riotous sequence that reveals Saddam Hussein to be a cross-dressing geek who is so inept he almost kills himself when American soldiers fail to assassinate him. As with the first film, some of the best jokes here are throwaways in Saddam's refrigerator are "Hungry Nomad" dinners and "Falafel Helper." And the brilliant, dumb, silly and stupid jokes are all thrown together in a mix that leaves them virtually undistinguishable.
There are also many more raunchy and gross-out gags here than in the first film, and so many are so specific that those who haven't seen the movies being referenced may feel a bit left out in the cold.
So, while film buffs are laughing, other audience members may be scratching their heads. Of course, everything goes by at such a rapid pace it's hard to ponder one joke before five others have gone by.
There is one odd choice here, however, the lengthy sequence that parodies "Basic Instinct." This is by far the film's raunchiest sequence and seems out of place in a movie aimed mostly at teens which much of this is.
Still, there are enough laughs here to make "Hot Shots! Part Deux" recommendable to audiences who like off-the-wall humor. It's just too bad the filmmakers decided to subscribe to the grosser-is-better school of comedy.
"Hot Shots! Part Deux" is rated PG-13 (which seems a bit soft) for sex, nudity, profanity and vulgarity.