It doesn’t happen too often but sometimes lightning strikes the IPC and I get together with a wonderful person and we hash out some words on something classic and great. I call it the Double Take and we watch a movie and then put up our dukes to see if we agree or disagree and all of that stuff. We don’t talk about it so neither of us know what’s going on until I get them united out here and away we go! If you would ever like to be involved with something like this, just let me know here or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Today I am joined with the lovely and brilliant SMASH from SMASHING THROUGH LIFE – one of my favorite sites out there. We take on a classic (from my youth): TOP SECRET! the amazingly hilarious and scrotum bustingly funny Val Kilmer comedy.
I take a lot of heat from some people because I haven’t seen some of the movies that people regard as classics from their childhood. When I was growing up I was watching the Halloween and Friday the 13th movies – things like that. And Doctor Who and Star Trek – but I may have mentioned that already. Whatever the case was or is or whatever – I don’t like the state of today’s comedies. Will Ferrell screaming that he has a boner and eating cat shit is not funny to me. Danny McBride being a low life white trash dude isn’t funny to me. Jack Black and Russell Brand can fuck off and die. I like my comedy to be sly and demure, not explosive and stinky like someone just jizzed all over the place. TOP SECRET! is none of that.TOP SECRET! is fucking hilarious from start to finish and, even though I’ve seen it dozens and dozens of times, it still cracks me up. “LATRINE!!!”
“Is this the Potato Farm?”
“Yes, I’m Albert Potato.”
If you haven’t seen this then you might not get that but this is the type of thing that makes me laugh. Subtle humor. There’s a scene in here where the captive scientist is shown spooning dirt out of a hole in the wall – he’s obviously trying to tunnel his way to freedom. The good guys bust in and rescue him and he says something like “Pity, I was almost finished.” So Kilmer pokes his still good looking head in the hole and sees a monstrous four lane thoroughfare like the Eisenhower Tunnel (or something). “Impressive,” he says. Also – how about that sign the Germans are holding up at at his honorary ceremony: “VELCOME NEEK!!!“
Or how about that dance they do at that formal party??? Just going through the motions and then they jump up and click heels and spin around and act like they’re taking gum out of each other’s mouths. It’s hysterical and it all just kind of… happens. There’s no big set up – it just “is” and it’s awesome. In no way do they take anything seriously here. There’s a big gunfight at the Potato Farm – half way through, skewing the traditional shots of soldiers running through a house, these guys stop and do a little soft shoe dancing. It’s totally random and totally hilarious.
I can’t even say enough good things about this movie. Have you seen it?? If so – revisit immediately!! Have you not seen it??? WTH??? Finish reading this post and go find it!! Mandatory!! Now… Smash had never seen this before we emailed back and forth – let’s go see what she thought…
SMASH’S TAKE (WOO HOO!!!!):
Top Secret (1984)
I’m going to preface my part in this discussion by stating that I generally dislike parodies. It’s a difficult type of comedy to execute effectively. The purpose of the parody and the humour fuelling it have to be compatible. It has to be necessary. It has to offer the viewer something more than a cheap laugh. It has to show us something new while using only familiar adornments. Simply put, the most successful parodies are those which are timely and smart.
My present day view of parody is that it’s parasitic. Lacking the integrity and ingenuity of writing original material. I don’t need someone else telling me what current events of my time are funny by parodying them, and thus spelling it out for me like I’m a total fucking moron or something, and I certainly don’t want sit through a constant barrage of cultural references with practically non-existent shelf-lives for ninety whole minutes of my life.
I can easily attribute this distaste that I have for parodies to the slew of filth that those incompetent and aggressively unfunny ass-hats Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg have been assaulting us with since that piece of shit known as Scary Movie hit the screen almost fourteen years ago. They have completely disemboweled the fine art of parody for my generation. I came of age in the late ’90’s and early ’00’s, and it has become exceptionally difficult for me to remember that beautifully peaceful time before these two fuckwads hit the scene. Oh, how I long for those good old days, when the average cinema-goers felt safe and comfortable around the parody. But that was a long time ago. That was before Seltzer and Friedberg started using the genre to viciously prison-rape our collective funny-bone year in and year out with no signs of stopping. You can be damn sure they’ll keep carrying on this way as long as they can keep miraculously forcing a profit out of us.
It makes me sad. I hope it makes you sad too. Otherwise, you’re just another unthinking oaf that continues to line their pockets, thereby perpetuating this cycle of abuse. But I digress. When EI suggested this movie, I agreed but I had my doubts. I was worried that maybe I wouldn’t be able to find the humour in this movie because of how I feel about parodies. However, I’m pleased to report that my apprehension was totally unnecessary. I was completely thrown by how much I loved this movie. From the first joke to the very last I was in absolute stitches. I watched it by myself and I laughed out loud throughout the whole thing. And just for the sake of ambience, when I really get going I have a loud and hearty laugh. Lots of big coarse “HA HA HA!”s, that’s how I like to laugh.
Top Secret is a charming movie. The jokes were actually funny. They were clever and quick, they hit a funny note and then moved on to the next joke instead of beating the same point over the head. It was simple and effective. The thing I loved the most, is that this movie actually had something to say, and that point was made succinctly and sufficiently, without interfering with the actual comedy.
In the opening sequence when Nick Rivers is singing his #1 hit song Skeet Surfin’ the audience is informed that this isn’t a movie brimming with easily recognizable cultural references just for the cheap laughs. This is a movie that is self-aware and is using it’s ludicrous premise of a pop star secret agent fighting Nazis to critique the influence that popular music and popular music icons, like Elvis Presley, have had on our political landscape and how absurd it is for people to allow their decisions to be so easily shaped by that which is current and trendy.
It makes you laugh, and it makes you think too. That’s what I enjoyed about it the most. It actually made sense for this movie to be a parody. It wasn’t some sloppy slew of current day cultural references presented by semi-recognizable actors who couldn’t get better work. Parody is tricky, but if you have something interesting to say and can say it in a way that is witty and charming then greatness will abound.
Top Secret is an excellent example of parody at its best, and it was immensely entertaining to boot. If you haven’t seen this one yet and feel like a laugh, then I strongly suggest you check it out.