Top Secret! (1984)

top secret poster 1984 movie
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

Some good laughs

Some jokes crash and burn

Movie Info

Movie Name: Top Secret!

Studio: Kingsmere Properties

Genre(s): Comedy

Release Date(s): June 8, 1984

MPAA Rating: PG

top secret val kilmer anal intruder billy j mitchell

Got to love ’80s PG (aka pre-PG-13)

Nick Rivers (Val Kilmer) is one of America’s hottest stars.  With songs like “Skeet Surfing”, he’s taken the nation by storm and how now been selected to perform in East Germany to help bring the world together…but the East Germans have their own secret agenda.  With a scientist named Dr. Paul Flammond (Michael Gough) as their prisoner, they are creating a secret Polaris naval mine that could threaten the world’s submarines.  Nick finds himself unintentionally paired with resistance leader Hillary Flammond (Lucy Gutteridge) in a desperate rescue attempt.  It could be love for Nick and Hillary, but the arrival of Hillary’s lost childhood lover Nigel (Christopher Villiers) aka the Torch as the leader of the resistance could dash their chances of happiness.

top secret val kilmer peter cushing lucy gutteridge

I bet it hurts when you get shampoo in your eye

Written and directed by Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker (with additional writing by Martyn Burke), Top Secret! is a comedy spy spoof.  The film received mixed reviews and bombed at the box office but gained a cult following over the years.

Top Secret! was a movie that always seemed to be on TV.  Unlike other movies by the same group like Airplane! and The Naked Gun, Top Secret! never seemed to have the same reverence that the other movies had.  It does have a lot of laughs, but the movie also often falls flat.

There seems to be a real battle over what type of spoof the film is.  The spy aspect of the film (and the title of Top Secret!) implies a spy film while much of the movie is more of a music romp that is closer to a parody of an Elvis style movie.  It directly spoofs The Blue Lagoon (in a memorable flashback) and much of Top Secrets! jokes seem more topical than some of Airplane!’s jokes…which hasn’t aged the film as well.  There are still some really smart jokes if you know where to look and what is being spoofed.

top secret nigel hillary lucy gutteridge christopher villiers

Return to the Blue Lagoon…Top Secret! version

The film is noted for being Val Kilmer’s premiere film.  Kilmer was picked up after performing in Slab Boys on Broadway and was marketed as the new hot actor…and also kind of mocks this in his performance.  I’ve not always been the biggest Kilmer fan, but this is one of his better turns.  He’s joined by Lucy Gutteridge who is rather bland as Hillary Flammond and a number of character actors including Billy J. Mitchell, Michael Gough, Warren Clarke, and Ian McNeice.  Downton Abbey’s Mr. Carson has an early role as Déjà Vu and Peter Cushing and Omar Sharif play the star power in the movie.  The film was one of Cushing’s last roles and the mold of Cushing’s head used to make his large eye was later used to recreate Cushing for Rogue One:  A Star Wars Story.

top secret underwater bar fight val kilmer christopher villiers

Underwater Bar Fight!

The movie is largely about the visuals and the gags surrounding them.  The cow wearing boots, the above mentioned big eye of Cushing (and backwards shooting of that scene), and the “Skeet Surfing” montage are just a few highlights of the film, but there are little touches as well like panning off to a fire during a sex scene…and panning off to another fire when the sex moves back into frame.  I always liked the underwater fight sequence between Kilmer and Villiers as well.

Top Secret! is a fun movie overall.  There are better spoof movies, but there are also a lot of similar types of movies that are far worse.  It feels like Top Secret! has a budget and is thought out…something that is sometimes missed in other spoofs.  The movie is a classic case of ’80s PG in that it has some pretty adult jokes in it that would land it as a PG-13 audience today.  It definitely skewers more to kids of the 1980s than to modern audiences, but it is still a fun trip down memory lane.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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