Top Secret! (1984) - Rotten Tomatoes

Top Secret!1984

Top Secret! (1984)



Critic Consensus: Top Secret! finds the team of Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker sending up everything from spy movies to Elvis musicals with reckless, loony abandon.

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Movie Info

The second of Zucker-Abraham-Zucker's theatrical-feature spoofs (Airplane was the first, discounting the patchwork Kentucky Fried Movie), Top Secret! lampoons practically every film genre. Specifically, however, this is a hybrid of an "Elvis" movie and a World War II "underground resistance" thriller. In his film debut, Val Kilmer plays Nick Rivers, a Presley-like American rock idol sent behind the Iron Curtain on a goodwill tour. Before long, he is involved in a complex espionage scheme thanks to beautiful Lucy Gutteridge, the daughter of a scientist (Michael Gough) held captive by the Communists. Also essential to the action is flamboyant resistance leader Christopher Villiers, who behaves like Victor Mature in Betrayed (1954) and talks like James Mason. Adhering to Z-A-Z's cheerful disregard for people, places and events, the East Germans are depicted as Nazis, while the Underground is comprised of Frenchmen. The plot is mainly an excuse for the Z-A-Z team's fondness for joke-a-minute lampoonery, skewering cinematic targets ranging from The Blue Lagoon (1980) to The Wizard of Oz (1939). As in Z-A-Z's other efforts, Top Secret! scores its biggest yocks when invoking cliches that we never realized were cliches-and falls on its face whenever attempting a too-obvious gag (the biggest clinker: that pigeon statue in the park). Everyone has his or her favorite bits in this film: our faves include the resistance fighter named Deja Vu ("Haven't we met somewhere before?"), Kilmer's horrible nightmare while being tortured (he arrives too late to take final exams), the army-booted cow, the sensitive Pinto, and the East German National Anthem, sung to the tune of the Shorewood (Wisconsin) High School marching song. But let's say no more: comedy of this nature is designed to be seen, not written or read about.

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Peter Cushing
as Bookstore Owner
Warren Clarke
as Col. Von Horst
Tristram Jellinek
as Maj. Crumpler
Richard Mayes
as Biletnikov
Vyvyan Lorrayne
as Mme. Bergerone
Ian McNeice
as Blindman
John Sharp
as Maitre D'
Marcus Powell
as Little German
Louise Yaffe
as Cafe Diner
Nancy Abrahams
as Pregnant Woman
Charlotte Zucker
as Cafe Diner
Susan Breslau
as Cafe Diner
as Bruno
Michael Gough
as Dr. Flammond
Sara Montague
as Crying Girl
Mandy Nunn
as Young Hillary
Lee Sheward
as Young Nigel
Janos Kurucz
as Wagon Driver
Sydney Arnold
as Albert Potato
Harry Ditson
as Du Quois
Jim Carter
as Deja Vu
Eddie Tagoe
as Chocolate Mousse
Michelle Martin
as Pizzahaus Girl
Nicola Wright
as Pizzahaus Girl
Lisa Gruenberg
as Pizzahaus Girl
Gerry Paris
as Back-Up Singer
David Adams
as Back-Up Singer
Geoff Wayne
as Back-Up Singer
Steve Ubels
as German Soldier
Chas Bryer
as German Soldier
Mac MacDonald
as German Soldier
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News & Interviews for Top Secret!

Critic Reviews for Top Secret!

All Critics (35) | Top Critics (7)

The trio of Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker approach movie comedy as a systematic exaggeration of genre cliche's designed to sustain 90 minutes of infectiously silly non sequiturs and sight gags.

April 23, 2018 | Full Review…

The plot combines the rock musical with the spy thriller (not to mention assorted other genres), and the comic invention is fairly constant.

October 18, 2011 | Full Review…

This time, though, the creative group has neglected to build to the kind of giddy, everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink climax that made Airplane! such a memorable exercise in anarchy.

October 18, 2011 | Full Review…

Secret! shares the same wonderful wacky attitude that allows just about any kind of gag to come flowing in and out of the picture at the strangest times.

March 26, 2009 | Full Review…

Signs of desperation have begun to creep in some time before the end.

February 9, 2006 | Full Review…

This movie will cheerfully go for a laugh wherever one is even remotely likely to be found.

October 23, 2004 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Top Secret!

In 1958 breakout rock and roll star Elvis Presley was drafted into the U.S. Army, frustrating his fans while delighting his numerous detractors, fearful of a sexual revolution - which kinda happened anyway come to think of it. But what if that real event had been more like one of his goofy movies, or say more inventively, a WW2 or Cold War movie? And so Top Secret takes it's inspiration, and it's many liberties, with Val Kilmer (in his first role and doing all the singing too) as a traveling American music idol caught up behind the Iron Curtain in espionage intrigues. There's plenty of laughs interspered with plenty of Back To The Future-style (which this preceded by one year) musical numbers. Some fun.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

With less jokes per second than Airplane! (which was the kind of comedy that shot in every direction to see what could hit), this decent spoof of spy movies is more Mel Brooks than the Marx brothers and less irregular than that movie, even though not nearly as memorable.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

If you are aware of the Zucker brothers' particular oeuvre, then you already know that this film is immature, hilarious, and is definitely worth watching. That is not to say that this film is immature in the sense that it remains juvenile, but instead is so by making fun of the odd and unordinary, and therefore has jokes that are questionable when it comes to their surreal quality, but always make you laugh. This film makes fun of both espionage films; especially those that were set in foreign countries at the height of the Second World War. This film also, weirdly enough, makes fun of Elvis Presley's musicals of the sixties by having lead actor Val Kilmer play a bodacious singer who can really dance, tapped to sing for the leader of East Germany, who, along with all the citizens of the country, are depicted as Nazis. There is a complete disregard for time, so this film comes off as very anachronistic and strange. That being said, there are a lot of specific choices in the depiction of language, including rewinding dialogue and pretending it's Swedish, and then having actors speak, and signs say, things in Yiddish that are represented as German. This film feels fresh thanks to it being the ZAZ's second theatrical release, and takes a lot of chances that always seem to pay off. They chose Val Kilmer as their lead, in his first movie role. He is an expert at dancing, sings rather well, and delivers a very interesting and funny performance that really astounded me. Other great cameos include Omar Sharif as Cedric in a rare onscreen appearance, Peter Cushing as a Swedish bookstore owner in a rewound scene that has since become infamous, and Michael Gough as the German romantic interest's father. This film is chock full of some classic and insanely funny sight gags, references, and parodies of classic films, and in itself wins every time.

Spencer S.
Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

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