Stuff to Watch Podcast: The Movie That Made Top Gun: Maverick’s Val Kilmer A Star

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EXAM: Currently warming hearts, inducing tears and stealing the show in Top Gun: Maverick, Val Kilmer may be in the twilight years of his acting career due to an ongoing battle with throat cancer, but his legacy is nearly four decades of on-screen work that includes some truly memorable performances.

With nearly immaculate timing, TVNZ+ has acquired the 62-year-old’s directorial debut, a film that showcases his charisma, versatility, singing skills and adept comedic timing (something cinephiles rarely get). saw again).

Having previously turned down a role in Francis Ford Coppola’s Brat Pack-gathering adaptation of The Outsiders due to his theatrical commitments, he was a surprise choice to play American musician Nick Rivers in Jim Abrahams, the anarchic 1984 comedy by David Zucker and Jerry Zucker Top Secret!


Top Secret is now available to stream on TVNZ+.

* How Val Kilmer’s children helped tell his story in the intimate documentary Val
* Val: Amazon’s entertaining, enlightening and heartbreaking look at a fallen star
* Eight great Val Kilmer performances (and where you can watch them)
* Val Kilmer admits he feels ‘better than I think’ after battle with throat cancer

Buoyed by the success of their disaster film parody Airplane! (known as the Flying High!), the trio decided to take the same approach to WWII spy thrillers (while also nodding to Elvis’s cinematic work , 1950s beach movies and Brooke Shields starring The Blue Lagoon). Airplane’s high-profile ensemble was largely replaced by a cast of unknowns (although there were terrific cameos from Omar Sharif and Peter Cushing) and British character actors, which included a pre- Batman’s Michael Gough and Downton Abbey’s Jim Carter as the truly memorable French Resistance soldier Deja Vu.

Joined by Montage, Croissant, Soufflé, Escargot and Mousse au chocolat, the latter, with its “we’ve never met” line, really sets the tone for the “dad jokes” that Top Secret! revels. Sure, some of the sight and verbal gags have dated poorly over the past 38 years (many of the jokes revolve around outdated national stereotypes and Carry On-style sexism abounds), but the success rate of hilarity remains high, depending on your tolerance for lines like “I know a little German… He’s sitting over there.”

Chocolate Mousse (Eddie Tagoe), Deja Vu (Jim Carter) and Nick Rivers (Val Kilmer) are taken by surprise.


Chocolate Mousse (Eddie Tagoe), Deja Vu (Jim Carter) and Nick Rivers (Val Kilmer) are taken by surprise.

The plot of Top Secret!, such as it is, revolves around attempts by East German forces to create a diversion for a planned attack on the NATO fleet in the Strait of Gibraltar (something that now looks suspiciously like to this year’s Operation Mincemeat in reverse).

With their first choice Leonard Bernstein now unavailable, they settle on ultra-hot American rock star Rivers, whose trio of NRA-approved tracks Skeet City, Your Skeeting Heart and Skeet Surfin’ USA are currently dominating the charts (essentially a parody of Beach Boys’ songs, the latter includes the fabulous line, “And we’ll have fun with our guns, till the lifeguard takes our ammunition away”).

However, he almost immediately runs into trouble when he meets Hillary Flammond (Lucy Gutteridge) at a restaurant and then at the ballet, where she had planned to meet the local resistance leader. By rescuing her from the authorities, Rivers inadvertently manages to get himself incarcerated.

Sure, some of the visual and verbal gags date incorrectly from the 38 years since its first release, but Top Secret's hilarious success rate!  always remains high.


Sure, some of the visual and verbal gags date incorrectly from the 38 years since its first release, but Top Secret’s hilarious success rate! always remains high.

Facing possible execution, an escape attempt leads him to the laboratory of Hillary’s father, Dr. Paul Flammond (Gough), a brilliant scientist, conscripted against his will to create a magnetic mine capable of annihilating submarines. enemies at once. But while Rivers is initially picked up and set for a date with the firing squad, he is granted a reprieve after it is decided that this would disrupt the East Germans’ diversionary plans too much. That’s when Rivers sees his chance to help Hillary and the rest of the resistance.

What follows is a crazy prank involving pantomime cattle, porcelain Nazis and a bizarre parody of Are You Lonesome Tonight. At the heart of increasingly insane nonsense is a pretty brilliant Kilmer, however, selling everything from underwater bar fights to Great Escape-inspired motorcycle chases with equal aplomb.

“Listen to me, Hillary. I’m not the first guy who fell in love with a woman he met in a restaurant who turned out to be the daughter of a kidnapped scientist, only to lose her to his childhood lover who ‘she saw for the last time on a desert island, which then turned out to be the leader of the French underground fifteen years later,’ he said without wasting time, before she replied by the immortal line, “I know. It all looks like a bad movie,” and they both stop and turn to the camera.

With his megawatt smile and perfect vocals, which spans a range of musical genres, this is the moment we saw a movie star born.


Eight great performances by Val Kilmer.

Top secret! (now airing on TVNZ+) is among the shows and movies discussed in the latest episode of the Stuff to Watch podcast.

It’s a quick and airy listen – 10 minutes in all – designed to help you get the most out of your weekend.

You can listen by clicking on the player at the top of the story – or find it wherever you get your podcasts, Apple, Spotify and the rest.

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