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Top Secret! (1984)

Val Kilmer has a reputation for being difficult to work with, but it’s clear from this, his very first movie, that he has always been a major talent — I really don’t think many actors could anchor a comedy this zany, and still come across as anything other than a cartoon. Kilmer is basically Elvis as he appeared in his movies, though maybe that would be Elvis if he were one of the Beach Boys and lived in the 1980s. He visits an East Germany that looks more like Nazi Germany and is, inexplicably, under attack by the French resistance. Oh, and there’s backward-talking Peter Cushing and cows with boots and a long parody of The Blue Lagoon that has, shall we say, “dated poorly”. But for each misfire, there are a couple of brilliant, hilarious gags — in fact, this is probably my favourite of all the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker movies. It’s smarter than the Naked Gun movies, more anarchic than Airplane, and smarter and more anarchic than anything else they’ve done.