Is ‘Hot Shots! Part Deux’ A Better Sequel Than ‘Top Gun: Maverick’?
Not only has Top Gun: Maverick made a Naval boatload of money this year, it's now a serious awards frontrunner, much to the dismay of Tár-heads everywhere. But, Maverick isn't the first ever cinematic follow-up to a Top Gun-type story. Back in the '90s, the success of the Top Gun parody Hot Shots! led to a sequel: Hot Shots! Part Deux. And while it pains us to extol the virtues of anything involving Charlie Sheen, we can't help but wonder if Part Deux is, in some ways, a better sequel than Maverick …
I realize that this might sound nuts; after all, Top Gun: Maverick is a widely beloved box office juggernaut, while Hot Shots! Part Deux is a movie in which Charlie Sheen kills a guy using a live chicken.
But, as a sequel, Part Deux is preferable in some ways to Maverick. For starters, while Maverick mostly recreates the narrative structure of the first movie but with more emotional depth and better action sequences, Part Deux didn't have the luxury of a 36-year gap that would allow them to get away with such a thing. Instead, it features an entirely new story involving Topper Harley. Sure, it was mostly just a parody of '80s Rambo movies, but it still evolved past the mold of the original.
Hot Shots! Part Deux's story also put effort into furthering the complicated romantic relationship between Topper and his love interest from the first film, Ramada, played by Valeria Golino.
Meanwhile, Top Gun: Maverick, to its detriment, completely omitted the character of Val, played by Kelly McGills. Why? Because according to director Joseph Kosinski, he "didn't want every storyline to always be looking backwards." Which is a weird thing to say about a movie that opens with a Kenny Loggins banger cranked to 11.
Hot Shots! Part Deux also told a story full of political specificity, which unfortunately manifested in cringey Gulf War-era jingoism and rampant Islamophobia. But by contrast, Top Gun: Maverick continued the original's trend of battling a nameless, faceless enemy bereft of any real-world significance, a fantasy-based strategy that, back in the '80s at least, served to help the military to attract scores of new recruits. Yeah, let's call that a wash.
None of this is to say that Hot Shots! Part Deux is an overall better movie than Top Gun: Maverick, but if the inevitable third Top Gun movie includes a few poultry-based death scenes, at least it will keep things fresh.
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