Over the Top (1987)
Directed by Menahem Golan
Written by Gary Conway, David Engelbach, Stirling Silliphant, Sylvester Stallone
Produced by Menahem Golan, Yoram Globus, Tony Munafo, James D. Brubaker
Starring Sylvester Stallone, David Mendenhall, Robert Loggia, Rick Zumwalt, Susan Blakely, Terry Funk, Allan Graf, Chris McCarty, Bruce Way, Magic Schwarz
Produced at Cannon’s antic acme, this is the Golan-Globus picture, helmed by Menahemself, replete with magnified testosterone and breathing their strangely selective immigrant’s vision of The American Dream, here epitomized by daffily denominated Lincoln Hawk (Stallone), thewy trucker and semi-professional arm wrestler who bonds with his estranged and effeminate son (Mendenhall) en route from the prissily petulant cadet’s military academy to a hospital where his ailing mother (Blakely) awaits over exercise, competitive confrontations and an abduction at the behest of the spoiled stripling’s wealthy, peremptory grandfather (Loggia), whose possessive obsession generates more conflict than an approaching arm wrestling tournament in Vegas where our husky hero’s slated to strive. Golan’s goofy, glossy melodrama is idiomatically tacky but never for a moment humdrum, boasting Nevadan desert landscapes magnificently depicted by DP David Gurfinkel, a felicifically formulaic plot and superabundance of sweaty, screaming, hefty, hulking antagonists vying for the prize, as a bleached beefsteak (Schwarz), transitioning lycanthrope (Way) and Brobdingnagianly brawny consecutive champion (Zumwalt, playing himself) bloviating boasts and macho slogans to cow his competitors. Silliphant and Stallone evidently reveled in the composition of these, as well as the latter’s own ludicrous ruminations and invective inimitably growled by Loggia in usual fine, nefarious form. Beneath all its muscle, sinew and syrup beats a heart of American triumphalism, which for all its oblivious absurdity feels almost enviable in an era when post-ironic snark is waning wearily as the best hallmark of our tired, effete ethos.
Recommended for a double feature paired with any of Cannon’s Rocky sequels.
Over the Top (1987)