Our Daily Trailer: OVER THE TOP
With The Expendables 3 opening in theaters nationwide today, it only seems appropriate that we wrap up Menahem Golan Week with Over The Top, the director's 1987 Sly Stallone vehicle. It wasn't the only film Stallone and Golan worked on together, but for my money it's their finest collaboration. Over The Top is an absolute treasure trove of '80s cheese, a film about alarmingly sweaty men, big-ass trucks, baseball caps, Robert Loggia shouting at people and child custody disputes. But mostly, Over The Top is about armwrestling. Lots and lots of armwrestling.
Stallone stars as Lincoln Hawk*, a long-haul trucker with a hidden talent for destroying motherfuckers in the (elbow) ring. When his estranged wife Christina (Susan Blakely) winds up terminally ill, Hawk agrees to retrieve their son (David Mendenhall) from military school in order to spend some quality time with him. This draws the ire of Christina's father (Robert Loggia), who will stop at nothing to make sure Hawk doesn't end up getting custody of the kid once Christina kicks the bucket. With Loggia's small army of mustachioed henchmen in hot pursuit, Hawk & Son set off across the country on a journey filled with valuable life lessons.
At first, Hawk's son, Michael, is a royal pain in the ass. At a greasy diner, he insists that his father order a tuna on whole wheat rather than the steak (SISSY ALERT). He disparages Hawk's big-rig (the kind of talk that could get you killed in the '80s). He attempts to run away by launching himself directly into traffic (attempted Darwinism). Most of this behavior is motivated by the fact that Michael believes his father abandoned him a decade prior for a life of drug-dealing and general monkey business. But eventually Hawk's son softens when it turns out that A) his father's absenteeism was actually a hoax being perpetrated by his grandfather, and B) dude really knows how to armwrestle.
All of this culminates in an armwrestling tournament in Las Vegas that goes on way, way longer than it has any right to.
Over The Top's one of those movies that was on heavy rotation on HBO during the late '80s/early '90s (fun fact: at one point, HBO only aired three movies - Over The Top, Little Monsters and Club Paradise), which means that it's a film I've got a bit of a soft spot for. Sure, it doesn't offer up a particularly compelling story, and yeah, you know damn well how the whole thing's going to play out long before the opening credits have wrapped, but the film's shot surprisingly well, and Stallone genuinely attempts to do what he can with an admittedly slight character/script.
Plus: there's a lot to love here for those with an appreciation for '80s cheese. There's the aforementioned yelling of Robert Loggia, the utter absurdity of Sly's "finishing move" (it involves Sly's baseball cap and placing a diabolically crafty grip around his opponent's thumb) and a father/son exercise montage set against a "magic hour" backdrop. It offers an embarrassment of riches in the "quotable lines" department. And on top of all that, it features an appropriately overdramatic '80s rock soundtrack (you bet your ass Kenny Loggins represents) which spawned the following music video wherein Sammy Hagar armwrestles Sly (and wins!):
Over The Top is not a great film. Hell, I'm not even sure we can call it a "good" movie, not in the traditional sense. But it's a helluva lot of fun to watch, both as a time capsule for '80s schlock and as an example of what a "Sly Stallone movie" used to mean to the filmgoing public (thirty years later, the lean-and-mean Sly of the '80s has slowly transformed into what could best be described as an HGH-powered Robert Evans). If you've never gotten around to watching it, I highly recommend it. Bring beer.
* = There were a few versions of the Over The Top trailer to choose from when it came time to assemble today's entry, and I would have preferred one that didn't have the distraction of Spanish subtitles stamped across it. But when I heard the version above inexplicably refer to Stallone's character as "Lincoln Hawks," I knew I had found the correct version.