Frankensteining a Movie

Last night I watched Top Gun for the first time in over 20 years. Not to disappoint, but it is astoundingly terrible, like putting on nice clothes to go on a date only to have a bear in a tree poop on you, then maul you. There were a lot of people who showed up with great affection for the movie. I think that’s because it’s not a movie you really revisit all that often, so what people are really fond of is how a couple of scenes made them feel.

I was about to join Scientology until I saw this dumb movie.
I was about to join Scientology until I saw this dumb movie.

Do you remember the movie in-total? I certainly didn’t. I remembered them singing “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling,” beefcake volleyball, Goose dying, and some aerial maneuvers and that’s it (No apologies for spoilers, it’s a 30 year old movie and no one should watch it anyway. Don’t see it! Save yourself the psychological trauma.). What I and most everyone else forgets is the dialogue that sounds like it was written by hyper-masculine infant and a loose plot with no repercussions.

“~SNORT~Hey Chip, I dare you to make a movie that appeals to everyone and no one at the same time.” (That was my impression of an 80’s movie producer snorting his muse, rolling up the sleeves of his sport coat, and making movie magic.) It’s like someone mixed up different parts of a He-Man, Transformer, Barbie and a sex doll, then glued them into one ghoulish creature fused together with cocaine.

All you need to know about any of the characters is in their stupid, obvious nicknames. Tom Cruise’s character is named “Maverick” and that’s all you need to know about him. All of the authority figures spend the movie telling him how dangerous he is because he’s such a maverick and how they want him out of the Navy, then, when he does quit, the authority figure shows up to almost beg him to return.

This perfectly symbolizes the 80s
This perfectly symbolizes the 80s. Image Source

And that’s the problem, not one of the five plot lines has a resolution. The driving force for 3/4 of the movie is Maverick wanting to prove he’s the best by beating Val Kilmer’s character (who, you probably remember Kilmer having a major part, but he has maybe five lines) but that gets completely dropped when Kilmer (what’s his character, well, he’s called “Ice Man”) does something totally out of character and gets Goose killed with no repercussions.

I'm pretty sure this is the story board for Top Gun. And that's Kenny Loggins, not Jesus's face.
I’m pretty sure this is the story board for Top Gun. And that’s Kenny Loggins, not Jesus’s face.

There’re no consequences to anything…except creating the Kenny Loggins song “Highway to the Danger Zone” which is used relentlessly throughout the movie. The romance is shoe-horned in. Even though he’s sexually harassing one of his instructors, she has sex with him, you then only see her two more times in the movie. “~SNORT~ We gotta have a romance with no emotional investment, you know, for the chicks, and tease her hair up real good, don’t skimp out on the Aqua Net budget!”

The climactic scene shows up abruptly and pointlessly, “~SNORT~ It’s the Cold War, let’s kill some Nazis! They’re still around, I seen ’em in that Indiana Jones flick. Fine, make ’em faceless Ruskies. Dammit, Chip, ya’ done it again. ~Snort for a reward~” They have a dogfight with Russian jets, which would seemingly be the start of an international incident and the catalyst of WWIII but instead, there’s a line that intimates that Maverick’s face would be all over the front page of all the newspapers. Apparently, covert military operations are widely covered in 80’s newspapers?

When he does this in the movie, he's flipping off the audience. By the way, Goose, tuck in that thumb for a proper flipping.
When he does this in the movie, he’s flipping off the audience. By the way, Goose, tuck in that thumb for a proper flipping.

It makes me so angry. Even the one emotional beat, Goose dying, the only remotely likable character and that’s only because you see his dumb family and you imagine he’s called Goose because he playfully gooses all the other guys who cavort in the locker room  nonstop, doesn’t need to be in the movie. There’s a five minute mourning scene, but the ramifications disappear when it comes Ruskie-killing time. “~SNORT~Let’s kill the dude from Revenge of the Nerds, that’ll make people think there’s an emotional cost even though we don’t even give him a real name in the script. Pass me the quaaludes.”

Ultimately, this is me flailing like an ineffectual baby because that was the highest grossing movie of 1986 and they announced a sequel. I lose.


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  1. Top Gun was your typical stroking the man’s ego trip down memory lane movie. So sad that it was the #1 gross-out, I mean grossing film of that year. I really thought Ferris Bueller was better.


    • Can a movie “stroking men’s ego trips” involve a beefcake beach volleyball scene where one guy wears jeans, not jorts, full on jeans with no belt and they pause on a guy flexing his triceps? That seems to threaten the male ego, like a Magic Mike. And objectively, Ferris Beuller is better, but only one of those two movies involves a pederast. Hint: it’s the principal from Ferris Bueller.


  2. I have a cassette of the soundtrack somewhere. It was my dad’s. I don’t know what is on it because I get it confused with the Footloose soundtrack, which is awesome.


    • You’re honor, I object to calling any 80’s soundtrack “awesome.”
      Your proof, non-lawyer in this court of subjectivity?
      I give you the track listing: the first four tracks are fine, a bit dated, but fine. However, I submit that there are two Kenny Loggins tracks on a single soundtrack along with two Tom Snow tracks, topped with a Sammy Hagar track. I submit to the court that no soundtrack with two Loggins and Snow–particularly one with a Sammy Hagar track titled “The Girl Gets Around,” can or should EVER be tainted with the word, “awesome.” The prosecution rests.
      Thank you, prosecution, I think we’ve heard enough, the prosecution is obviously correct, Footloose soundtrack is passable but not anywhere near the realm of awesome. Court is adjourned to go to Margaritaville!


  3. Too much testosterone in 1986 and too much today. Blecch. Never saw it then, won’t see it now.


  4. I don’t remember the last time I saw the movie. It might have been 1986. I think I remember it pretty well. Goose’s wife is played by Meg Ryan. I think it’s the first movie I saw her after she was on As The World Turns.. Or maybe playing Pam in The Doors came first. Anyway, two of her first movies had her in relationships with Val Kilmer. Kelly McGillis plays the instructor who has a thing with Maverick. She had starring roles in The Accused and Witness. She was a good actress in those movies, and then she pretty much disappeared. I found out she left movies because it was too difficult to find good roles, and she enjoys the stage more. She appeared at The Folger in D.C. regularly (they do nothing but Shakespeare as far as I know). We went there to see As You Like It. A couple months later they did it again, and she played Rosalind. I was kind of disappointed that I didn’t get to see her. I have no idea who played the roles when we went, but if you have a chance to go to The Folger, then I recommend it. It’s a great, intimate theater–the kind of place where some of the characters make their entrances by walking down the aisles through the audience. For As You Like It, the set included a tree that stuck out over the heads of part of the audience. One of the characters (I know his name but don’t remember how Shakespeare spells it–it’s French, but his spelling is different from what we use now) spends part of the play in the tree. It was very good: funny and enjoyable.I had a wonderful time. Now about Top Gun: Don’t bother.



  5. How dare you insult me with this post! The nerve! How dare you snort and snort again when all I need to say is.. THIS!



  6. As a child of the 80s, I never saw this movie. I have no idea what it’s about, outside of your description (which doesn’t make me want to watch it).

    But honestly, I can’t even say I haven’t watched Top Gun because I had good taste. I was probably watching something equally stupid, like Alf or Rocky IV instead. And thinking it was awesome. I’m just convinced that the 80s was a vortex of terribleness, where everything was awful, and yet everyone in our generation thinks it was just the greatest thing ever.


    • You are correct. The 80’s are/were/are a “vortex of terribleness” camouflaged by nostalgia. Rocky 4 was god awful. Alf was embarrassing. “Harry and the Hendersons” was disturbing. Then there’s Small Wonder. No one questioned why this adult man created a robot daughter? No one? Man, my childhood was replete with dodging molestation.


  7. I Fugging LOVE your blog. Specially the poop references.


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