Classic Intel: Top Secret! - Online Review

'it is mainly the simple jokes that prove the most successful and easiest to remember; 'is this the potato farm?'/'yes, I am Albert Potato', is a classic of mirth-giving simplicity'

The second of the Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker films, - arriving after Airplane! but before The Naked Gun, although Police Squad predates it by a couple of years - Top Secret! is arguably one of the trio's more demented offerings. There's perhaps no greater single symbol of this fact than the 'anal intruder' gag, which goes from risqué fun-poking to very risqué death-giving in a matter of minutes.

The jokes elsewhere sadly verge on hit-and-miss a bit too often. Anything related to the fact that Nick Rivers (Val Kilmer) is a pop star goes on for far too long and isn't funny enough. The cow scene at the end of the film, which uses a real cow for the, erm, 'external' scenes, is pretty much as good as any extended sequence the writing/directing/producing trio ever lorded over. As ever, it is mainly the simple jokes that prove the most successful and easiest to remember; 'is this the potato farm?'/'yes, I am Albert Potato', is a classic of mirth-giving simplicity.

As a comedy film, it's easy to miss some of the work that doesn't immediately revolve around the scripting or visual gags. Late on there is a stunt which involves two people falling from a truck into a river. This looks, firstly, like it was performed for real and, secondly, like a very accomplished piece of action work. Anywhere else, in Indiana Jones, for example, and this segment would have been praised to high heaven, ditto the underwater fight scene which follows - it's comedic in its inception but it still takes careful direction and stunt co-ordination to pull something like that off.

The main problem with Top Secret! ultimately boils down to the fact that the jokes don't come consistently enough to make you forget the skeletal story backing them up. Airplane! doesn't suffer from this at any point during its runtime but here it's too easy to start actually considering the mechanics of the restaurant scene, or the prison escape, for example. A great farce should render those points obsolete.




Top Secret! was available on Sky's Anytime Plus service.

Look further...

'I have a friend who claims he only laughed real loud on five occasions during TOP SECRET! I laughed that much in the first ten minutes.' - Roger Ebert, 3.5/4

No comments:

Post a comment