I've mentioned this before, I have a young son… one who will be leaving home soon for college. He was ten when we started this little website, so how time flies… but over the years I've been shoring up the boys education of movies his old man considers classics. Today's perceived classic, on glorious defunct HD-DVD, the Look and Sound of Perfect, is the late Tony Scott's classic ode to navy recruitment and alleged homo-eroticism…Top Gun! For full disclosure, I haven't seen 'Top Gun' in its entirety since I saw it at the theaters, as a seventeen year old or something, back in 1986. Twenty Seven years, this being late 2013, is an awfully long time.
At this point and time, Pete 'Maverick' Mitchell is best that ever was. Just ask him and he will tell you how good he is with that ever present dookey eating grin on his face. Or you could ask that MIG pilot who Maverick and his main man Goose (Anthony Edwards) were matching Zero G inertial force graviton dives with. He knows how good Maverick is. As good as Maverick might be, he doesn't play by the rules, which means he won't be going to the Navy's Top Gun school, that is until this carrier's current top pilot, Cougar (John Stockwell), froze up when he saw that MIG. Can't have my pilots freezing up at the sight of an enemy plane, so Cougar is out, and Maverick and Goose are heading to Top Gun school! Yay!
Top Gun school is a pretty cool place. Everybody has really cool nicknames, there are super cool overly masculine instructors like Viper (Tom Skerritt) and Jester (Michael Ironside), and you get to do all kinds of great things like fly 30 million dollars planes and play endless games of shirtless volleyball with your boys. The only thing that would make Top Gun school perfect, other than maybe the existence of more than one woman, would be if the government would spring for some Air Conditioning. Seriously, all these dudes did, besides play games, was sweat in this movie. Tony Scott's research must've revealed that sweaty dudes are appealing in some way. Can't speak for everybody on that one, but we gotta say 'no' on that one.
Maverick has a couple of issues at Top Gun school, one being Iceman (Val Kilmer) who doesn't like that Maverick doesn't play by the rules, and then there's Charlie (Kelly McGillis) who teaches something or another having to do G-Force at Top Gun School. Hell if I know what exactly. While Dr. Charlie also recognizes that Maverick doesn't play by the rules, and while she doesn't date her students, there's something about that grin and love won't be denied. And everything at Top Gun school is awesome for Maverick.
Until it becomes not so awesome. Tragedy, a shaken confidence, slippery love, and all kinds of other stuff such as his increasing frustration with a lack of A.C. on that air carrier will shake Mav's tenuous grip on his inner awesome. But he will get all that back… by blowing some shit up. Go U.S.A.!
Hey, I gotta admit, in 1986 'Top Gun' did the trick for me. If it weren't for my horrible eyesight, low intellect and the fact it takes me the better part of a day to run a mile… I'd have signed up for the Navy after seeing that movie. I fell squarely into the demographic back then and you couldn't tell me that Top Gun wasn't the best movie of that year. 'Out of Africa' be damned! Now some years later, revisiting 'Top Gun'… well… We did still enjoy it, but mostly for the nostalgia of it all, and the shock of how easily I was entertained back then.
Today I see 'Top Gun' as a collection of hammy acting, blunt force scripting, melodrama, predictability and propaganda. As a side, when Maverick told Dr. Charlie, in regards to his legendary MIG incident, that if he told her the details he'd have to kill her, my son rolls his eyes at the line, but I had to remind him 1986 that line was fresh, so there. Also, while 'Take Your Breath Away' is an awesome song and all, I mean it did win an Oscar for whatever that's worth, did they really need to play a version of it every time Maverick and Charlie halfway looked at each other. And what was up with that love scene? Watching Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis licking each other's faces was downright disturbing. I don't know how that couldn't have been disturbing even back in 1986. And even the ballyhooed dog fighting sequences weren't as awesome as I remember them being.
Now with all that being said, and fully recognizing that the shine has been removed a bit from 'Top Gun' so many years later, we still enjoyed our revisit with Tom and them. While 'Take My Breath Away' is annoying, 'Danger Zone' is, and always will be, beyond awesome. That Kenny Loggins… I tell you. To this day, Mr. Loggins is my go to guy when I need a rockin' movie theme. Sure, the acting was a little overwrought at times, remembering that the majority of this cast of hot young actors really hadn't learned how to act yet, but it still worked here for the most part. Especially Val Kilmer's Iceman. That Iceman was a funny dude, strutting around like a peacock and chomping down on his teeth. Word is Val didn't want to be there. How in the world could anybody not want to be in 'Top Gun'? Then there was curious case of Clarence Gilyard. Who is Clarence Gilyard? Sundown. The Black guy. What is curious about Sundown is that there was rarely a scene in Top Gun school that he didn't find his way into. Mr. Gilyard's screentime in this movie was only second to Tom Cruise, if you add it up. He might've had only two lines, but he always found the camera. Good for you Clarence!
Now to be honest with you, I didn't really see the alleged homoeroticism that was supposed to be pulsing underneath the subtext of 'Top Gun'. True, a lot of scenes took place in the locker room featuring a bunch of shirtless, sweaty dudes, and yes, that shirtless volleyball scene did go on for what felt like an eternity, and maybe Viper was kind of checking Maverick's ass out a little bit while Mav was shirtless, in his tighty whities bent over a sink … in the locker room again… mourning Goose, and maybe Mav and Ice telling each other they could be one another's Wing Men had a hidden meaning, and maybe they did hold on to the hug a little long, and stared into each other's eyes an awful lot… But I just didn't see it. Rocky III on the other hand… now that movie was kind of gay.
'Top Gun'. Not as awesome as it was, but still something to see, after all of these years.