The only time I wrote a movie review based on a movie I saw as a kid, was A Nightmare on Elm Street. I did that as a gag when the remake came out.
When Top Gun was first released in 1986, I was a senior at MiraMesaHigh School. It was a thrilling movie to see for a number of reasons. I was often playing basketball at the Miramar Base, and a few of the pilots would come in the year before talking about scenes they did in the movie. One time when they took Tom Cruise up in the F-14, he barfed all over the plane. He insisted on cleaning it up himself and felt guilty. They all said he was really friendly. While watching the movie, when the word “Miramar” popped up on the screen (where the real Top Gun school was), the crowd erupted in applause.
I’m not sure what you’ll get with it being released in 3-D, but so much of it was filmed around San Diego. Fox 5 even showed the house from it recently up in Oceanside.
As great as the aerial scenes were, it’s not like the planes were coming at you. I’m not sure how 3D will enhance that. They did make you feel like you were sitting right there in a dogfight, and that was exciting. Who knows, maybe volleyballs will be flying at you during that goofy scene.
This is also one of those movies, like Cruise’s A Few Good Men, that is often on cable. And admit it…when it is on, you keep it on.
For the two people out there that haven’t seen the movie, here’s the story. Navy pilot Pete Mitchell (code name Maverick) plays by his own set of rules. He’s risky, he’s dangerous. Yet through a set of circumstances, when the best pilots are sent to Miramar Naval Air Station, he and his partner Goose (Anthony Edwards of ER) are asked to go in place of the best from their squad. There they meet Tom Kasansky, aka Ice Man (Val Kilmer). He’s a better pilot, better volleyball player, and better at biting air. He also has the bigger ego.
A civilian flight consultants is played by Kelly McGillis. She doesn’t like Cruise at first, but come on. We all knew where that was heading. And when they do finally kiss, I’ll never forget my friends 7-year-old brother watching the movie on HBO (he just recently got married). He yelled out “Gross! His tongue went into her mouth!”
Movie trivia time: What’s the first movie to show a French kiss? Answer: the 1961 Kazan picture Splendor in the Grass starring Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty (I’m guessing the kiss was his idea).
Tom Skerritt, great in movies as far back as M*A*S*H, and A River Runs Through It, is one of the flight instructors. He flew with Maverick’s dad, and knows a little about his mysterious disappearance.
We get to see some bonding between pilots and a decent romance (with one of the few weak Berlin songs – Take My Breath Away – which surprisingly one an Oscar).
Speaking of songs, that’s one aspect of the movie that probably won’t hold up. Nothing more frustrating than watching an 80s picture you remember loving, only to hear cheesy keyboards all through the soundtrack. Kenny Loggins, who easily made over $50 million on soundtrack songs alone, does the horrible Danger Zone during many flight sequences. It was even goofier when at his concert at the Belly Up Tavern last year, he showed clips of the movie while performing it (the clips of the gopher from Caddyshack during I’m Alright was alright, but I digress…)
Meg Ryan has a bit part as the woman Goose gooses, and overall, the film works as a guilty pleasure.
The late film critic Gene Siskel said in his review at the time “If the Navy brass had any brains, they’d have a jet pilot school recruitor in the lobby of every theatre where Top Gun plays.”
Well, that wasn’t necessary. The Navy and Air Force had record numbers of people signing up the following years (I was unfortunately told in 6th grade that I was color blind and could never pilot a plane).
Now, since the filmmakers want us to revisit this movie at the theatres, I thought it would be fun to revisit the cast, and see where they are now.
— Director Tony Scott killed himself last August. He was apparently scouting locations for a Top Gun 2.
–Tom Cruise is still the biggest star on the planet. In 1986, Top Gun was the highest grossing film, making him the biggest star. Even his couch jumping on Oprah, marrying multiple women, and love of Scientology couldn’t change that.
–Tim Robbins (a small part as Merlin) split from long-time girlfriend Susan Sarandon.
–Kelly McGillis got divorced after her husband was caught with a prostitute, and years later said she was a lesbian. In 2010 she had a civil union with her partner.
— Meg Ryan, decided it shouldn’t just be the men that had all the fun flying. She got a role in the underrated movie Courage Under Fire playing a helicopter pilot.
–Anthony Edwards lost his hair.
–Val Kilmer gained a lot of weight, occasionally pops up in interesting roles, but a few years ago was at Comic Con selling autographs for $25 a pop.
And you thought it was bad when Tom Skerritt popped up in that cameo for Ted – a movie with a partyin’ teddy bear.
Top Gun still holds up and is a lot of fun. It gets 3 stars out of 5.