Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Going OVER THE TOP (1987) on VHS Wednesday

A couple summers ago my father-in-law and I were killing time between sitting on the beach and having cocktails when he flipped to OVER THE TOP (1987) on one of the cable channels. A sucker for a sports movie he settled in even though he had never seen it and it was about halfway through. In an attempt to bring him up to speed I started explaining the movie's plot as well as the backstory behind Cannon paying Sly big bucks, conning some poor slobs to market OVER THE TOP toys, etc. I'm still not sure if he believes anything I told him that day. Naturally, when Evan Romero dropped a hint that he'd be willing to review the flick for an upcoming VHS Wednesday, well, I couldn't resist. As long as I didn't have to watch it, too.

I don't know how in the hell I rope myself into reviewing stuff like OVER THE TOP for VHS Wednesdays. I guess I'm just real good at shooting myself in the foot. Of course our Fearless Editor saw me about to blow my big toe off, yet he did nothing to stop me. He knew my trepidation; knew how much I feared sticking this thing into my poor VCR. But there he sat, waiting to smile at my misfortune with some popcorn and a craft beer in hand.

Lincoln Hawk (Sylvester Stallone) is a truck driver who walked out on his family ten years ago. His wife, Christina (Susan Blakley), is gearing up to croak and wants Lincoln to bond with his estranged son, Michael (David Mendenhall). When Christina kicks the bucket, Michael's grandfather (Robert Loggia) steps in to keep them apart – permanently! But this being an upbeat 80's movie, we all know it'll end happily with some paltry and inspirational philosophy dropped along the way. Oh, and there's some arm wrestling thrown in because they wanted to make a stupid version of ROCKY.

OVER THE TOP is so damn tacky you could hang a poster with it. At the same time, you have to give it to Cannon Films for having the audacity to take a truck driving film, a father/son bonding film and an arm wrestling film and roll it into one clump of idiotic rubbish, then serve it up on a platter of sheer stupidity. On the one hand, you wanna laugh at the harebrained proceedings as the film moves along with zero fucks given; on the other, you wanna castigate yourself for watching it and never show your face in public again. Sure, it's fun to poke fun at, but just know you'll be doing it more for reasons of desperately trying to preserve what little dignity you have left (but if you're watching OVER THE TOP, it probably means you had none to begin with).

Performance-wise, no one gives a crap. Stallone looks as though he's embarrassed for himself and those watching; he moves about the sets and says his lines because it's required of him. Robert Loggia, usually dependable, looks like he'd rather be getting a root canal and a colonoscopy at the same time. The arm wrestlers are antagonizing in that 80's wrestling style and come off like cartoons – and not in a good way. Watch out for one who looks like Discount Apollo Creed.

I regret going one-on-one with OVER THE TOP. It's hot, buttery caca made for the sole purpose of showing that men with muscles can also have emotions (it fails). If it really wanted to be a good flick, it should have been about Lincoln losing the arm wrestling match and Michael, then turning into a psychotic truck driver and chasing down Dennis Weaver. Now THAT would have been a film worth watching. And one less embarrassing. – Evan Romero

Evan Romero is a regular contributor to the pages of ER and spends much of his time reading morally questionable books and watching movies no sane person would touch. He is the vocalist/bassist for the punk band Porno Holocaust (you can find them on Facebook and listen to some demos if you’re inclined). His short story “Touch” was recently published in REJECTED FOR CONTENT 5: SANITARIUM. You can read more of his reviews at or at He last wrote about Troma's TERROR FIRMER.

OVER THE TOP is available from Amazon, you sick bastard.

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