Written by / 12/22/2015 / No comments / , , , , , ,

SYLVESTER STALLONE GOES CANNON FILMS IN 'OVER THE TOP'

year: 1987 cast: Sylvester Stallone, David Mendenhall
For a campy road movie, showing lovely desert/mountain locations throughout America where OVER THE TOP spends much of its time, in transit, Sylvester Stallone's trucker, Lincoln Hawk, is allowed access to his spoiled son, given holiday leave from a Military Academy.

Despite being protected by nefarious father-in-law Robert Loggia, Stallone's early-career LORDS OF FLATBUSH co-star Susan Blakely as ex-wife/mom, who spends her scenes dying in a hospital with sporadic phone calls, overrides Loggia's possibly mob-backed power. And be careful what you ask for: Hawk goes from cold to cool to luke-warm to warm & fuzzy with son Michael, played by child actor David Mendenhall, who Hawk wants to initially throw out of his truck, and you will too... But with all the flaws, the picture's banal escapism is pretty darn entertaining. While Sly's acting was superb in ROCKY and FIRST BLOOD (using a genuine speech impediment as part of his character's punchy brain, and throwing an incredible tantrum in the latter), he loosens up after an arm wrestling match at a diner, which provides our first glimpse into what TOP is about, and what Hawk's really good at. Thus the title fits Sly's new sweaty subject, not his performance.

Great Poster Art
The highway journey leads to an anticipated arm-wrestling championship in a big Las Vegas arena that dwindles down from a handful of brawny brutes to only two rivals, wherein giant bald-headed Rick Zumwalt's Bull makes for a terrific b-movie foe, providing Stallone the kind of Mr. T (or perhaps Hulk Hogan) "odds are extremely against the underdog" challenge that has a shocking amount of suspense despite the "sport" being pretty limited... making up for prior scenes consisting of Hawk and son slowly (and at the same time, much too quick and unrealistically) bonding in the claustrophobic truck/cab setting that, despite man's man Stallone being a genuinely straitlaced and honorable dude, borders on creepy, somehow.

Yet the soundtrack, while incredibly 80's-dated... backing up a chase scene; son literally handed a chance to prove his own strength against a mullet-haired bully; and downtime between dialogue... gloriously embodies the muscular matter-over-mind era that Stallone personified. Too bad the "King of the Sequels" couldn't have taken us OVER THE TOP AGAIN. Who knows, perhaps Bull had an estranged, bastard son who needs a trainer...

NORMAL RATING: ***
CAMP VALUE: ***1/2
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