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.
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.
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.
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?
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.