Hot Shots!

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Hot Shots!
File:Hot Shots 2.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jim Abrahams
Produced by Bill Badalato
Pat Proft
Written by Jim Abrahams
Pat Proft
Starring Charlie Sheen
Cary Elwes
Valeria Golino
Lloyd Bridges
Jon Cryer
Kevin Dunn
Kristy Swanson
Bill Irwin
Music by Sylvester Levay
Cinematography Bill Butler
Edited by Jane Kurson
Eric A. Sears
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • July 31, 1991 (1991-07-31)
Running time
84 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $26 million[1]
Box office $181,096,164[1]

Hot Shots! is a 1991 comedy spoof of Top Gun which starred Charlie Sheen, Cary Elwes, Valeria Golino, Lloyd Bridges, Jon Cryer, Kevin Dunn, Kristy Swanson, and Bill Irwin. It was directed by Jim Abrahams, co-director of Airplane!, and was written by Abrahams and Pat Proft. It was followed by a sequel, Hot Shots! Part Deux. Both Sheen and Cryer would later costar in the TV series Two and a Half Men, with Ryan Stiles playing a recurring role.

Plot summary

The film begins at Flemner Air Base 20 years prior. A pilot named Leland "Buzz" Harley (Bill Irwin) loses control of his plane and ejects, leaving his co-pilot Dominic "Mailman" Farnum (Ryan Stiles) to crash alone; although Mailman survives, he's mistaken for a deer owing to the branches stuck to his helmet and is shot by a hunter. Topper Harley (Charlie Sheen) wakes up from a nightmare he's having about the event when Lt. Commander Block (Kevin Dunn) asks him to return to active duty as a pilot in the U.S. Navy, to help on a new top secret mission: Operation Sleepy Weasel. Harley starts to show some psychological problems, especially when his father is mentioned. His therapist, Ramada (Valeria Golino), tries to keep Topper from flying, but she relents, and also starts to build a budding romance with Topper. Meanwhile, Topper gets into a rivalry with another fighter pilot, Kent Gregory (Cary Elwes), who hates Topper because of the loss of his father "Mailman" to Buzz Harley, and believes Topper may do the same to him.

Meanwhile, Block starts privately meeting with an airplane tycoon, Mr. Wilson, who has recently built a new "Super Fighter" that will make the American pilots superior. Block reveals that he brought back Topper for the reason of making Sleepy Weasel fail. Block would then report that it was the Navy's planes that were the real reason for the mission failure and that they need to be replaced with Wilson's planes. During one of the last training missions, an unfortunate accident between Pete "Dead Meat" Thompson (William O'Leary) and Jim "Wash-Out" Pfaffenbach (Jon Cryer) occurs, leaving Dead Meat dead and Wash Out reassigned to radar operator. Block believes this is enough to convince the Navy to buy new fighters, but Wilson brushes it aside as a "minor incident," and the planes need to fail in combat for anyone to take notice.

Meanwhile, Topper starts to show more and more feelings to Ramada, but she is also smitten with Gregory, who believes Topper cannot handle combat pressure. On the carrier U.S.S. Essess, Block reveals the mission to be an attack of an Iraqi nuclear plant and assigns Topper to lead the mission, much to Gregory's chagrin. Meanwhile, Wilson, who is also on board, coerces a crew member to sabotage the planes, putting the pilots' lives at risk. At first, the mission goes according to Block's plan. He mentions Buzz Harley to Topper, who becomes overcome with emotion and unable to lead the mission. Block just starts to call out for the mission to be aborted when Iraqi fighters attack the squadron. All the planes' weapons fail and Block realizes what has happened. He then tells Topper that he saw what really happened with Buzz and Mailman, that Buzz tried to do everything possible to save Mailman, but ended up falling out of the plane, failing in his attempts. Inspired, Topper single-handedly beats the Iraqi fighters and bombs the nuclear plant, despite sustaining heavy damage. Back aboard ship, Block decides that American planes will always be superior with pilots like Topper (and German parts). Wilson's plan is revealed and his standing with the military is lost.

Back in port, Gregory accepts Topper as a great pilot and lets Ramada be with Topper and the two begin a loving new relationship.



The aircraft, Oscar EW-5894 Fallus, as depicted in the film are actually Folland Gnats. The scene in which Valeria Golino catches an olive in her mouth that has been popped out of her navel was parodying a scene in 9½ Weeks. According to Golino (interviewed in a behind-the-scenes featurette for the sequel), this scene was filmed without special effects.

Critical reaction

The film debuted at number one in the US.[2][3][4][5] Hot Shots was both a critical and commercial success, grossing over $180 million worldwide.[1] The film holds an 83% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes based on 24 reviews.[6] The film was chosen for the 1991 Royal Film Performance.[7]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Hot Shots!". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 15 March 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Fox, David J. (1991-08-27). "Weekend Box Office : List-Toppers Are Listless". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Cerone, Daniel (1991-08-06). "Weekend Box Office : 'Terminator 2' Surrenders Top Spot". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Fox, David J. (1991-08-13). "In the Wake of 'Terminator 2,' a Slow Season : Box office: With three weeks to go in the summer, it appears there will be no records set. But it may yet prove to be the third-best summer on record". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Fox, David J. (1991-08-20). "Weekend Box Office : The Summer Doldrums Continue". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Hot Shots!". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 15 March 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Turan, Kenneth (1991-07-31). "MOVIE REVIEW : 'Hot Shots!' Breaks the Laff Barrier". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links