Bullet Points: Over the Top
I’ve said it a thousand times and I’ll continue to plead my case that Over the Top is the greatest film to ever combine a child custody battle with competitive arm wrestling. By far! I’m sure there are hundreds, maybe thousands of films that attempt to combine the two plot points into a narrative but Stallone and Co. are the only ones that do so with the proper combination of heart and testosterone (both natural and/or synthetic). If you need another reason to plant yourself in front of the screen to watch Over the Top you can tell your significant other that it’s one of the very few action movies that my wife actually enjoyed. Well, “enjoyed” is a phrase that I used and not her. She didn’t hate it, so that’s a win in my book.
Synopsis: Truck driver Lincoln Hawk (Sly Stallone) travels across the country with his estranged son Michael (David Mendenhall) on the way to see Mike’s mother who is scheduled for a dangerous heart surgery. Lincoln attempts to make up for the decade of time away from his family by teaching Michael valuable lessons via exercise montages and arm wrestling for money scenes. Lincoln’s parenting skills are put on full display as he then teaches 12 year old Michael how to drive the 10 ton weapon of death that is his semi truck. When Michael’s controlling grandfather tries to push Lincoln back out of Mike’s life it becomes apparent to Hawk that his best chance to get the life that he wants is to win the World Championships of Arm Wrestling in Las Vegas and he and Michael and ride off into the sunset in his brand new Semi.
Family Ties: I have a hard time writing about this film because it’s been a part of my family for so long. It was made in 1987, when Stallone was a massive star and he says that he only did the movie because the producers were tossing money at him like a stripper in a Vietnamese nudie-bar. Whatever the reason for his involvement, this film has always held a very important place in my heart. When DVDs first came out it was nearly impossible to find so the only way that my family was able to obtain a copy was to rent it from Hollywood Video and keep the copy. Sorry Hollywood, hopefully they are doing so well in the rental game that they won’t miss the revenue. Ooops…
Little Mike: I don’t know about you guys but little Michael needed an ass whoopin’ to end all ass whoopin’s. Action movies have always put annoying ass kids in their films and they have normally caused me to have much anger but Michael is not only annoying but he cries most of the film. Yes I know he suffers a loss of a family member and I should feel sorry for him but that doesn’t change the fact that even his own dad says he is a spoiled little brat.
Kramer vs Kramer + Arm Wrestling: I’d like to see Dustin Hoffman go over the top on Bull Hurley. He probably couldn’t even beat Smasher!
Wrestling Cameos: Over the Top has a pretty solid number of wrestler cameos. Terry Funk plays rich guy Cutler’s personal body guard, and in true Funk fashion gets the shit kicked out of him and thrown through a glass door, but “I’m big in Japan” Scott Norton, who was once an arm wrestler before turning to the squared circle, also did some work as a competitor in the Las Vegas Championships. You may also be interested to know that Bull Hurley was almost played by former wrestler Ox Baker.
Soundtrack Success: This has to be one of the greatest soundtracks in the history of cinema! Most of the tracks have made it onto my workout playlist that consists of great action movie songs.
The world meets nobody halfway: For those who don’t know me, I spent some time as a social worker working with juvenile delinquents and one of my favorite lines was “the world meets nobody halfway”. I doubt that any of the kids had ever seen this movie but I kinda wish one of them had called me out:
“Hey, that’s from Over the Top!”
“Damn straight it is!” *EPIC HIGH FIVE*
The Verdict: Over the Top is a film that I have seen so many times I can recite most of the lines verbatim. Stallone wasn’t happy with the finished product of the movie but he was getting paid so much to do it that he didn’t care, I guess. I think it’s a truly heart-warming film that also has some great montages and maybe the greatest soundtrack of all time. No one gets their neck broken and there are exactly 0 exploding helicopters but it’s still a fantastic film.