- Produced and Directed by Menahem Golan
- February 12, 1987 (New York and Los Angeles) / February 13, 1987 (US)
A long-haul truck driver tries to win back his alienated son while also working to become a champion arm wrestler.
Only in the 80s could a movie like this come into existence. In what other decade would anybody think to mix father/son bonding with arm wrestling? I am guessing the 80s had some good drugs available in Hollywood. Better than reported anyway.
There is still something delightfully entertaining about Over the Top. The 80s were a fantastically creative time in film for whatever reason. They took some of the stupidest ideas and ran with them. And they just didn’t run with the stupidity to make something stupid. They ran with the stupidity with the focus on making something good.
Sylvester Stallone is a talented actor. When he gets good material he is very good at it but for much of his career he has done stuff that has showcased his muscles and probably been more than a little beneath him. What worked in Rocky does not work in every role you take. This here is the Rocky of arm wrestling.
Stallone plays Lincoln Hawk, a truck driver who drives quite possibly the oldest truck on the road at that time. At some point in the past he stepped away from his wife and son and because his wife has some undefined form of heart disease (I thought it was cancer at first) he’s now trying to reconnect with his Mike (David Mendenhall) before she passes. Mike has a stick up his butt for about half the movie and then his dad flexes some muscles and turns that around and suddenly he’s all about Pop.
Robert Loggia is rich jerk Jason Cutler who is the Mike’s grandfather. He looks down on Lincoln because he’s a long-haul truck driver and not because the guy wants to be an arm-wrestling champ and has some training equipment set up in his truck. Or that Lincoln stepped out on his daughter and grandson. Nope. Truck driving is the real issue.
The dialogue is hammy in Over the Top, but the acting is not. The performers here do not take this story as a goof. They looked at this ludicrous script based on a ludicrous idea and said, “We’re going to treat this seriously”. And that’s probably why it works.
Over the Top is pure testosterone. It is very much a guy movie. That’s what drove many movies back in the 80s. Testosterone and muscle-bound action. And this has plenty of both. The whole movie revolves around Hawk using his muscle.
A lot of 80s movies seemed to have had these weird love themes that didn’t quite go with the rest of the film. For example “Meet Me Half Way” is a tender song but how does it connect with a movie about truck driving and arm wrestling?
Over the Top is a guilty pleasure of a film. It shouldn’t work and it shouldn’t be enjoyable, but it most certainly is both. Not only will you enjoy yourself but you will watch it again and again. I certainly recommend this one!