‘Top Gun’ is a Cruisin’ Classic

Top Gun posterYou know they’re cool guys because they wear sunglasses indoors. Either that or they’re blind… As pilots, though, I hope it’s the former. Top Gun is all about fast planes, gutsy flying, and pickup lines that, in real life, would get you slapped in the face. I think the motivation behind the making of this film is a love affair with planes and an insatiable need to put Tom Cruise in one of them. I never for an instant question how it became a classic – it’s just so absurdly lovable – but there are a few moments where I probably didn’t have the reaction director Tony Scott was shooting for.

In high school, for a brief moment, I thought about adopting a fancy nickname, like Ace or Flash, but chickened out at the last second. Probably a wise decision in the long run. Top Gun’s pilots, however, own their nicknames, to the point where they may as well have them legally changed. Maverick, Goose, Jester, Cougar, Hollywood, etc. The only pilot who uses his real name on the ground is Kazansky (Val Kilmer) and that’s only because his code name is Iceman, which just sounds dumb. Especially when he says stuff like, “That’s Mr. Iceman to you.” In any case, Iceman is Maverick (Tom Cruise)’s biggest rival at the U.S. Navy’s prestigious Top Gun flight school. A place where twenty lucky pilots compete to be the best of the best.

For 55 minutes it is a lung-splitting comedy, be that Scott’s intension or not. Maverick is a hothead who puts the flirt on like nobody’s business. There’s even a beach volleyball scene which I swear was only included to give the guys an excuse to oil up and go shirtless. Cruise’s squinty stares and devil-may-care attitude are matched with the best, the most ostentatious soundtrack of all time. To give you a taste, “Take My Breath Away” plays four times. Four. Any more times and I’ll suffocate. Electric guitars accompany golden dialogue like:

“You a pilot!”

“That’s right. A naval aviator.”

Dead. Serious.

Everything’s all “The Power of Love” until the last 55 minutes when the amp breaks and the electric guitar turns to slow, dramatic twanging. The fun times go south real fast. When the main characters have “Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’” and they have to fight their fears to reach their goals, wandering bravely into the “Danger Zone”, the plot picks up some drama. Our heroes are forced to put everything on the line and team up with rivals to save life, liberty, and happiness.

When they’re not flying planes like badasses, the boys are hanging out in blue jeans and white tees, basking in the film’s searing sexual tension. The endless flirty smiles may make Top Gun look like a toothpaste commercial, but there’s something about this movie that is just so likeable. Maybe it’s the gung-ho attitudes, the vomit-inducing nose-dives, the record-breaking list of clichés, or the fact that I, too, like to do deep lunges in nothing but a towel. Who knows. There’s a bit of magic in Top Gun, and it’s got nothing to do with the pilot named Merlin. This movie is 8 barrel roles out of 10.

Feel the 80’s: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCTJmXrgsFg

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