Top Secret! (1984) – A Review


A review of the 1984 spoof comedy Top Secret! starring Val Kilmer directed by Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker

Top Secret comedy movie

Once upon a time parody movies weren’t the bottom of the cinema barrel. In fact, they were actually a great bet for some laughs! Yeah, it’s hard to believe after witnessing what the genre has dissolved into.

The Zucker/Abrams/Zucker team who created 1980’s ‘Airplane!’ followed it up with this parody of WWII spy movies. Along the way Elvis musicals, The Blue Lagoon, The Great Escape, Pintos and endless cliched movie conventions are targeted.

Val Kilmer (in his film debut) plays Nick Rivers – American Rock N’ Roll star, who travels to Germany and meets Hillary Flammond (Lucy Gutteridege) and gets embroiled in the Resistance who are trying to rescue……ah the story isn’t important. It’s simply used as a framework to hang gags on. The important thing with these kind of films are to keep the jokes flying and if they’re funny or not. In this case they are! Some jokes fall flat, but for every joke that doesn’t work there’s another one right behind it that does.

You know how everyone quotes that famous ‘Shirley’ line from Airplane? Well, there are plenty of goofy lines here to add to your repertoire.

“In women’s tennis, I always root against the heterosexual.”

“If they find out you’ve seen this, your life will be worth less than a truckload of dead rats in a tampon factory.”


“Souvenirs, novelties, party tricks.”

“How do we know he’s NOT Mel Torme?”

Top Secret 1984 comedy Val KilmerRight from the opening sequence of teenagers partying at the beach enjoying Nick’s latest hit ‘Skeet Surfin’!’, you know this movie is going to be a real wacky ride. I revisited it again recently on TCM (I wouldn’t have expected to find it there) while they were dedicating a night to the ZAZ teams films. I planned on only watching the opening scene, but before I knew it I was there for the long haul.

The film isn’t as famous as ‘Airplane!’ or the ‘Naked Gun’ films, but it’s still plenty of fun. For folks who are only familiar with recent parody films that have caused the genre to be on life support, it’s a fun treat to see what it once was when it was made by creative, intelligent, inventive and FUNNY filmmakers.


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