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Skeet surfin', it's alright!
June 21, 2014 3:07 PM   Subscribe


 
The best of their films, I always thought. Had to watch it about 20 times before I caught all the gags.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 3:11 PM on June 21 [2 favorites]


Souvenirs, novelties, party tricks.
posted by PenDevil at 3:22 PM on June 21 [12 favorites]


I know a little German.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:25 PM on June 21 [7 favorites]


Have we not met before?
posted by jonmc at 3:26 PM on June 21 [3 favorites]


LATRINE!

Seriously, Mr. And and I just watched this again last week. I think I find something new to laugh at every time I see it. Of course, that may just be an early indication of my cognitive decline...
posted by workerant at 3:30 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


Oh man, this is one of the best kept movie secrets ever. Sometimes I swear it doesn't actually exist but instead I fever-dreamed it, because I have encountered so few people who have actually seen it. But I know I saw it 3 times in the theater when it was out, and I actually own the soundtrack album (on cassette!). So I even have physical evidence that it is real.

My favorite of the Airplane! producer's films. It's so subtle and so ridiculous.
posted by hippybear at 3:40 PM on June 21 [5 favorites]


Val Kilmer showed an exceptional gift for deadpan comedy in this and in Real Genius, the latter of which manages to remain one of my all-time favorite films even with all of its inextricable 80sness. All of which is weird because I can't think of anything else I even liked him all that much in.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:42 PM on June 21 [9 favorites]


he was madmartigan!
posted by Elementary Penguin at 3:53 PM on June 21 [6 favorites]


Do the tears on your pillow, roll down when you turn? Do they short out your blanket, and make the sheets burn?
posted by BrashTech at 4:00 PM on June 21 [4 favorites]


It's sad that juvenile humor has never reached such heights since.
posted by destro at 4:03 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


All of which is weird because I can't think of anything else I even liked him all that much in.

Well, Val Kilmer did excellent work in Doctor Who as The Face Of Boe....
posted by hippybear at 4:05 PM on June 21 [2 favorites]


I always thought that Real Genius and Top Secret were by the same people. Only a couple of years ago did I realize they only share Kilmer as a common point.
posted by kmz at 4:07 PM on June 21


Real Genius... which manages to remain one of my all-time favorite films even with all of its inextricable 80sness.

That's a feature, not a bug.
posted by codswallop at 4:20 PM on June 21 [15 favorites]


I've never seen Top Secret, now I want to.
posted by arcticseal at 4:22 PM on June 21


It's on netflix.
posted by valkane at 4:24 PM on June 21 [3 favorites]


Oh weird. I can't at all remember the circumstances, but I watched this movie about twenty times in one weekend when I was about 13. I watched it; I rewound it; I watched it again, over and over. I loved it so very much, and I thought that was just a weird thing about me. I had no idea it had become a cult favorite. I feel so vindicated!
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:26 PM on June 21


Not on Netflix Canada, alas.
posted by arcticseal at 4:28 PM on June 21


I can't think of anything else I even liked him all that much in

I liked Spartan pretty well. It helps that he just had to be deadpan and emotionless most of the time.
posted by Justinian at 4:30 PM on June 21 [3 favorites]


Great, great comedy!
posted by ReeMonster at 4:31 PM on June 21


Not on Netflix Canada, alas.

shit. sorry.
posted by valkane at 4:33 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


Kilmer is good in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang as well.
posted by snwod at 4:37 PM on June 21 [26 favorites]


I met Jim Abrahams at an epilepsy conference a few weeks ago, had dinner. He founded the Charlie Foundation, providing information about and support for people using the ketogenic diet that can be helpful in preventing seizures. It was only afterwards that I learned he wrote and directed some of my favourite movies. Funny and nice guy!
posted by cosmac at 4:41 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


I seem to recall this movie being my introduction to the idea of "broadcast versions" of movies when I finally got around to catching it on HBO a few years back. What a difference!
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 4:46 PM on June 21


I like Airplane! better, but Top Secret is also great.
posted by mosk at 4:47 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


"Top Secret" featured one of the absolute subtlest, totally obscure jokes I can ever recall seeing on film, which of course makes it all the more hysterical when you realize you're in on it (which more or less requires that you are a Jewish person who was forced to sing David Melech Yisrael in Hebrew School as a kid with full hand motions).

Keep an eye on the guy with the black beret and thick mustouce in this scene.
posted by The Gooch at 4:50 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


The underwater saloon brawl at the end of the film is brilliant.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 4:50 PM on June 21


I know; it sounds like some bad movie.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 4:51 PM on June 21 [5 favorites]


Kilmer's deadpan in this is fantastic. "We'd have enough salt to last forever!"

Plus, Jim Carter is always going to be Deja Vu to me, never Mr. Carson.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 5:00 PM on June 21 [6 favorites]


There needs to be director's cuts of Airplane and Top Secret, with all the deleted scenes and maybe some of the longer takes.
posted by crapmatic at 5:03 PM on June 21


The film repeatedly turns to the old trope of panning to a fireplace to discretely imply a burning passion. It becomes a running gag. In one scene, the couple are parachuting into enemy territory, they kiss, and the camera pans to a fireplace hanging from a parachute. In another, they kiss in front of a fireplace, and the camera pans to another fireplace.
posted by rlk at 5:11 PM on June 21 [21 favorites]


In women's tennis, I always bet against the heterosexual.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:34 PM on June 21


He was one of the lucky ones. He managed to escape in a balloon during the Jimmy Carter presidency.
posted by Chrysostom at 5:35 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


are you lonely tonight? Is your kitchen a sight. Then shop at Macy's and love me tonight.

I once snorted a liter of milk through my nose laughing at this movie. Not all at once but that carpet never smelled the same again.
posted by munchingzombie at 5:36 PM on June 21


It's not the carpet that smelled like milk, it was your nose.
posted by aubilenon at 5:37 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


But does the carpet match the drapes?
posted by hippybear at 5:43 PM on June 21


What phony dog poop?
posted by Old'n'Busted at 5:48 PM on June 21


The drapes also smell like nose.
posted by aubilenon at 5:53 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


Our surgeons did what they could, but it took them two hours just to get the smile off his face.
posted by valkane at 5:54 PM on June 21 [3 favorites]


I'd forgotten how funny this movie really was.
posted by mosk at 5:59 PM on June 21


Kilmer's Doc Holliday owns Tombstone
posted by philip-random at 6:05 PM on June 21 [16 favorites]


And like Kurt Russell, he's done the Elvis thing with the True Romance bit.
posted by valkane at 6:12 PM on June 21


Keep an eye on the guy with the black beret and thick mustouce in this scene

That's not just cheesy 50's dance moves?
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:14 PM on June 21


The commentary track for Top Secret ( available at Listentoamovie.com ) contains one of the funniest impromptu gags I've ever heard in a commentary. Skip ahead to 54:10 for the exchange in question.
posted by ShutterBun at 6:15 PM on June 21 [14 favorites]


Keep an eye on the guy with the black beret and thick mustouce in this scene yt .

Not sure how it got adapted to temple services (or which came first) but that there's just a good old fashioned "hand jive."
posted by ShutterBun at 6:19 PM on June 21 [3 favorites]


[Find him and kill him]
posted by interrobang at 6:32 PM on June 21 [2 favorites]


I once confused this with Spies Like Us. Never, ever confuse anything with Spies Like Us.
posted by basicchannel at 6:37 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


I saw this movie at 17 with my then boyfriend. We constantly referenced it in our jokes for as long as we were in each others lives, which was another five years or so. I saw it for the second time just three nights ago (23 years later and I just realized while writing this comment that because it ran a little past midnight I was watching it on my ex's 40th birthday on June 19th) because I got a sudden urge to see if it stood up to my memories of it. I found there was so much of it I didn't remember at all, and I perhaps didn't enjoy it quite as much as the first time, but it was good to hear those jokes again.

"My name is Hilary. It is a German name that means 'one whose breasts defy gravity'."
posted by orange swan at 6:37 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]




The underwater saloon fight is one of the most spectacular setpieces I've ever seen.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 6:43 PM on June 21


From jpdoane's link "Plus, Sixteen Candles and Footloose had just closed the weekend before".


Um... No. in 1984, movies would come into town and install themselves for months and months. I think Footloose ran in my town for 4 months or something like that.

Movies come and go so quickly from the theater these days it makes your head spin. When Star Wars came out in 1977, it played in my hometown for a year and a half.
posted by hippybear at 6:46 PM on June 21 [12 favorites]


I think Star Trek 3 was probably the wrong choice.
posted by aubilenon at 6:49 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit wrote:
Plus, Jim Carter is always going to be Deja Vu to me, never Mr. Carson.
...and the veils lifted from my eyes. Epiphany! We had met somewhere before!
posted by Songdog at 7:05 PM on June 21 [4 favorites]


Ghostbusters
Gremlins
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
The Karate Kid
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
Top Secret!
The Natural
Police Academy


Obviously I was the kid who went to see Police Academy 8 times.
posted by um at 7:24 PM on June 21 [3 favorites]


I saw this after I had lost all ability to respect Val Kilmer as an actor. This happened because of four things: Batman Forever, The Saint, a Driver's Ed film (on 16mm film) starring Kilmer and Michelle Pfeiffer about drunk driving, and some absolutely awful ads for cameras that were screening before the start of films about twelve years ago. So I was skeptical to watch a movie starring the man.

Then Skeet Surfin' started, and I died laughing. And it was good.

I really like that the team behind it recognized that it was a good story that had made Airplane! the best comedy of its type. I'd go so far as to say that most comedies would benefit from being based on an actual working story instead of the plot being a scaffolding for a series of jokes.
posted by graymouser at 7:25 PM on June 21


Never, ever confuse anything with Spies Like Us.

Never, ever confuse Spies Like Us with "entertainment".
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:43 PM on June 21 [2 favorites]


a Driver's Ed film (on 16mm film) starring Kilmer and Michelle Pfeiffer about drunk driving

I would watch this.
posted by cj_ at 7:51 PM on June 21 [3 favorites]


In reviews for ‘Airplane!,’ people said, “Wow, wasn’t that a clever spoof of the scene from ‘Here to Eternity.’ Well, we had never seen ‘From Here to Eternity.’ We had no idea that it was a spoof, we just thought it would be funny for a couple to get wiped out by a wave while they’re kissing on the beach.

I think there's a very real possibility that Abrahams is putting us on, but if true, that's mind blowing.
posted by Frayed Knot at 8:05 PM on June 21 [4 favorites]


He caught a cold the other day and he's just a little horse
posted by sourwookie at 8:28 PM on June 21 [2 favorites]


"Let me know if there's any change in his condition...he's dead."

Just rewatched this. Hadn't seen it in many many years. Still know most of it by heart. Love.
posted by biscotti at 8:32 PM on June 21 [2 favorites]


I absolutely need to see this again, if only for the scene where Kilmer's on a moving train, painting a landscape of what he sees out the window; when the camera pans back, you see his painting is just one big blur. I was a teenager when this came out, and I remember "getting" the nuance of the joke, and crying with laughter.
posted by flyingsquirrel at 9:19 PM on June 21 [2 favorites]


Ahahah! Gasoline!
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:23 PM on June 21 [4 favorites]


I always wondered if the shattering man was the inspiration for Nurse With Wound's song Shattering Man Falling. I should email Steve and ask.
posted by ostranenie at 10:43 PM on June 21


The second Indiana Jones movie was a real disappointment compared to the movies that bookended it. On the other hand, wait another month or so and you also got The Last Starfighter and Purple Rain.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:43 PM on June 21


'85 had some amazing stuff too -- Goonies, Breakfast Club, Back to the Future, Clue, Brazil.... I was just recently saying that I could never watch another movie except what came out in '84 and '85, and I wouldn't even mind.
posted by rifflesby at 10:49 PM on June 21



Ghostbusters
Gremlins
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
The Karate Kid
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
Top Secret!
The Natural
Police Academy


I did see Top Secret! upon release, probably before I saw Ghostbusters. I also caught Gremlins and Indiana Jones in that phase. But I'm pretty sure I preferred Top Secret! Other than EVERYTHING, the one thing that impressed me was how they managed to tell a story that started out during the Cold War, sidetracked through WW2, and ended up with references to Ronald Reagan (1980s) and exploding Ford Pintos (very 1970s)... without any of the characters seeming to notice, or care.

I'm still laughing.
posted by philip-random at 10:57 PM on June 21 [3 favorites]


That is NOT Mel Tormé !
posted by ninazer0 at 12:29 AM on June 22


Okay, I just watched a double header of Top Secret! and Airplane!

Beforehand I remember thinking Airplane! was funnier, but now I really liked Top Secret! better. They both work in a ton of jokes, but Top Secret! manages to fit them into the story, whereas Airplane! has on compunctions about temporarily suspending everything about the characters and the narratives for a pun. E.g., someone in the tower says "they're on instruments" and now everyone on the crew is playing in a band for a few seconds.

Now it's true that Airplane! didn't really write the story themselves - they were just riffing on another movie, so they didn't have the leeway to bend the story to reach the jokes on its own. But still I think I enjoyed Top Secret! a lot better because of this.

Aside from the exclamation! points! both movies used the exact same typeface t say "The End"
posted by aubilenon at 1:42 AM on June 22


" whereas Airplane! has on compunctions about temporarily suspending everything about the characters and the narratives for a pun. E.g., someone in the tower says "they're on instruments" and now everyone on the crew is playing in a band for a few seconds."

That's the best thing about it! Its like a movie that has been deconstructed, had jokes inserted, and reconstructed into this awesome new thing. Also, I don't know how they discovered the particular movie they based Airplane! on, whether they just lucked-in or whether they went looking, but there was a slew of these Airline disaster movies in the 70s and I guess for me, Airplane! was the perfect response. And the 70s were a strange time, and I think Airplane! fitted into that well, it was like a summation of what the 70s were like - ridiculous and awesome and awful all at the same time.

Also, Top Secret! (as can be seen from the clips posted in thread) has a very 50s Americana vibe to it, which I am not massively into, and I always felt that would appeal to Americans more.
posted by marienbad at 2:43 AM on June 22


Great article! I'd happily read insanely detailed oral histories of both "Airplane!" and "Top Secret." Track down the person responsible loading the truck with lamps for the terrible/awesome "we need more lights on the runway" joke in "Airplane!" and make her/him talk. Get the divers mentioned in this oral history on the phone and get them to muse on the absurdity of it all. And so on. Scene for scene. Yes please.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 2:49 AM on June 22


The big phone!
posted by whuppy at 4:51 AM on June 22


Best movie of all time.

Hillary Flammond: Nick? What does that mean?
Nick Rivers: Oh, nothing. My dad thought of it while he was shaving.

posted by molecicco at 5:03 AM on June 22 [1 favorite]


In reviews for ‘Airplane!,’ people said, “Wow, wasn’t that a clever spoof of the scene from ‘Here to Eternity.’ Well, we had never seen ‘From Here to Eternity.’ We had no idea that it was a spoof, we just thought it would be funny for a couple to get wiped out by a wave while they’re kissing on the beach.

I think there's a very real possibility that Abrahams is putting us on, but if true, that's mind blowing.


I would be willing to believe that they hadn't seen the actual From Here to Eternity and were just making fun of the image of people kissing on a beach -- when I first saw Top Secret! I hadn't seen FHtE either, but knew the trope/scene.
posted by Etrigan at 5:03 AM on June 22 [1 favorite]


Wow, I had no idea this movie was in the secret cult list. It's a staple of my childhood.
posted by odinsdream at 5:41 AM on June 22


In reviews for ‘Airplane!,’ people said, “Wow, wasn’t that a clever spoof of the scene from ‘Here to Eternity.’ Well, we had never seen ‘From Here to Eternity.’ We had no idea that it was a spoof, we just thought it would be funny for a couple to get wiped out by a wave while they’re kissing on the beach.

I think there's a very real possibility that Abrahams is putting us on, but if true, that's mind blowing.


This is more or less confirmed/reaffirmed in the commentary track for Airplane! (also available at listentoamovie.com) although ZAZ do admit that they had probably seen still photos from the movie, so were at least somewhat aware of the trope.
posted by ShutterBun at 6:01 AM on June 22


Our surgeons did what they could, but it took them two hours just to get the smile off his face.

I totally stole that joke when David Carradine died.
posted by Trochanter at 7:38 AM on June 22 [2 favorites]


"It would seem that you have made yourself, how you say, indispensable?"

"Indispensable."
posted by BrashTech at 9:43 AM on June 22 [3 favorites]


The backwards scene in the bookshop is genius.
posted by essexjan at 11:01 AM on June 22 [5 favorites]


Greg_Ace: "Never, ever confuse Spies Like Us with "entertainment"."

That's a *little* strong. It's pretty scattershot, but if nothing else, it gave us the "Doctor? Doctor" joke.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:14 PM on June 22


it gave us the "Doctor? Doctor" joke.

I stand by my original statement.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:50 PM on June 22


I watched this at a drive-in with two friends. I was laughing hysterically and they sat completely silent through the entire movie. As we drove home I tried to explain things like "latrine" and "deja vu" to them... and failed. Was an awkward car trip home. Loved the movie and have been planning to show it to my kids when they are old enough.
posted by greenhornet at 2:56 PM on June 22 [1 favorite]


Until I watched this movie, my life wasn't worth a truck load of dead rats in a tampon factory.
posted by prodigalsun at 3:37 PM on June 22 [1 favorite]


"We'd have enough salt to last forever!"

Best line. Best delivery, anyway.
posted by Bookhouse at 5:09 PM on June 22


I haven't seen this in 25 years! The one bit I remember that always cracked me up was, the Resistance were out in the grass somewhere, ready to plan, and a bird was singing, and one of the characters reached off camera for a huge mallet, and thwacked it into the ground, cutting off the birdsong.
posted by hearthpig at 6:47 PM on June 22


Never, ever confuse anything with Spies Like Us.

It's okay to confuse something with Spies Like Us. Just as long as that something is either Caddyshack II or Nothing But Trouble.
posted by doctornecessiter at 4:26 AM on June 23


While we're still on the subject, here's the Backwards Bookstore scene, played forwards.

Note that the dialogue is correct to the subtitles, which makes my brain hurt in a few different ways.
posted by ShutterBun at 5:56 AM on June 23 [5 favorites]


(correction to the above: the book title was actually (as spoken) "Europe on Five Quaaludes A Day)

Brain still hurts...
posted by ShutterBun at 5:59 AM on June 23 [1 favorite]


"Is your daughter eighteen?"
posted by ColdChef at 7:10 AM on June 23


I remember being really into the poster when the movie was coming out (the cow's wearing boots!!), and I wanted to see it but at 6 years old I didn't have any say in what movies I got to see in the theater. I finally saw it a few years later on TV, and have been in love ever since.
posted by doctornecessiter at 9:37 AM on June 23 [1 favorite]


My favorite scene as a kid was the song in which Nick keeps trying to kill himself -- I would laugh hysterically when he put his head inside the over that incongruously appeared on stage.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 9:47 AM on June 23


"Things change... people change... interest rates fluctuate..."
posted by BrashTech at 9:49 AM on June 23 [4 favorites]


hippybear : Well, Val Kilmer did excellent work in Doctor Who as The Face Of Boe....

Yay fat-shaming. Never gets old.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:55 AM on June 23


"Neek!"
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 11:13 AM on June 23 [3 favorites]


Top Secret! was one of those flicks that ran on HBO and/or Showtime what seemed like twice a day during some of my more formative years.

I will watch it, F/X or Beastmaster each and every time I see them running when scanning channels.

(along with Real Genius!)
posted by DigDoug at 1:25 PM on June 23 [1 favorite]


So, I remembered to mention...

I really REALLY wish that the German dub of Top Secret was easily available online, and that there was a wide-enough audience here to appreciate it. Because when they dubbed that movie into German, they went well above and beyond with the project.

They used German regional accents, translated jokes in ways which are funnier in German than in English, and generally turned the entire movie up to 11 during the dubbing process.

Even as a non-native speaker, watching Top Secret in German was one of the funniest things I've ever seen. And that's even after I knew the movie pretty thoroughly in English.
posted by hippybear at 11:13 PM on June 26


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