March 27, 2014

The Last Half Hour Of OVER THE TOP Is My New Favorite Movie

"This is a double elimination competition!"
My love of all things Stallone is boundless and Over The Top was the last of his really goofy 80's movies that had somehow slipped through my fingers.  I dipped into this pool earlier in the year with the incredible Cobra, which is pretty much pure, uncut Stallone action badassery.  But Over The Top is a different beast entirely.  I was having dinner with my friends Lucy and Jason one night and when I mentioned that I still hadn't seem Stallone's arm wrestling opus, well, the debate as to what we should watch that night came to an abrupt halt.

I'll admit that at first, I was utterly confused as to why this particular movie would be fondly remembered by anyone.  Stallone plays a truck driver who reunites with the rich, spoiled son he's never met and takes him on a road trip in his big rig to see the boy's mother who's suffering from some ill-defined heart ailment, but just as father and son begin to bond over the sublime art of arm wrestling, the boy's mother dies suddenly dies and there's a custody argument between Stallone and the kid's wealthy grandfather played by Robert Loggia and SNOOOOOOOOORE.

Sure, there's great 80's music from Giorgio Moroder and plenty of unintentional comedy to found, like the fact that nobody, including the screenwriter, seems to know if Stallone's character is named Hawk or Hawks.  (He identifies himself as both throughout the film, and it's never clear that one is a nickname.)  And that kid...yikes.  This goes on for a full hour.  Then, just when I was starting to lament the serious lack of arm wrestling in this arm wrestling movie, Stallone finally drives into Vegas for the International Arm Wrestling Championship.

That's when things get AMAZING.

Holy shit you guys.  The last 30 minutes of this movie are so incredibly, well, OVER THE TOP, that I simply can't describe it to you.  There are no words to express this level of crazy.  The finalists are all introduced via reality TV-style interviews straight to camera.  Each one looks like a cartoon character and behaves accordingly.  Seriously, one guy is named Mad Dog and chugs a bottle of motor oil right before competing.  The tournament is staged with a level of pomp and fervor that makes Rocky look like a junior high wrestling match.  And in case you're ever unclear on the rules of the competition, the tournament announcer repeats them no less than a dozen times.  It's utterly astounding.  The only thing missing is the moment when Stallone literally snaps his final opponent's arm in two pieces and I honestly still can't believe they didn't go there.  The disparity between the first 60 minutes and the last 30 minutes is so intense that while I plan on buying this movie immediately, (it's also streaming on Amazon!) I have no plans to watch the first hour ever again.  I will, however, watch the last half hour on a loop for all eternity.

Also, Jason put forth the theory that Stallone's Lincoln Hawk(s) is secretly gay, and once he said it out loud I instantly knew that there could be no other proper reading of that character.  He left his wife and son under mysterious circumstances, his rich father-in-law does not approve of his lifestyle, and he has no love interest in the movie.

Besides, just look at that shirt!


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Title: Over The Top
Director: Manahem Golan
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Robert Loggia, Susan Blakely, Rick Zumwalt, David Mendenhall
Year Of Release: 1987
Viewing Method: DVD