Top Gun review by Jackass Tom

Action classic

I tried to resist it. I told myself I didn’t like it. I used to make fun of my roommate in college for owning a VHS copy. An 80s action hard-on, staring pretty boy Tom Cruise. Gimme a friggin break, I am self-proclaimed (as well as accused) film snob Tom Blain. Hell I say film instead of movie. That’s pretty damn pretentious. How can I enjoy this tripe? But here I am with a copy of ‘Top Gun’ in my DVD collection. With this film I become Joe American Movie Watcher. It is a pleasure and I am guilty. Dog gone it, here I am a grown man and I still dig TOP GUN!

Top Gun is a celebration of cocky, military machoism with a lone cowboy theme. Their horses are military jets, their guns are missiles, and the goal of top gun is to be the first to ‘lock in’ on the other guy’s plane (much like the western ‘draw’). The hero (Tom Cruise) even has a call sign that is a reference to an old cowboy show: Maverick. They try to intimidate each other in the bars and in the locker room the same way Lee Marvin would try to get in John Wayne’s face.

Maverick is arrogant, but still an underdog, something that we Americans love rooting for; hell, we started out as the underdogs. He is shorter than everyone else, and seems to always be ranked as second best. You know he has worked hard his whole life because both of his parents died when he was younger. His father died in combat and his mysterious past and showboat reputation seem to haunt the young Maverick. And although he faces adversity throughout the film (loses his friend, does not become ‘Top Gun’) he ends up on top by redeeming himself in a dogfight with the ‘enemy’, finding out his dad died valiantly in battle, and getting the girl in the end. Everyone is happy.

This was the perfect film for 1986 and it was reflected at the box office (it was number 1 for the year pulling in more than $170 million in the US). It is a great representation Reagan’s 80s cold war politics. America’s top pilots engaging in heated competition with each other to see who is the best of the best. By the end of the film they rally together to defeat some invading enemy MIGs. In the few shots we see of them, the enemies’ faces are erased by their dark visors. They aren’t even portrayed as human. On the other hand all of the American pilots have unique helmets defining their personalities, and they communicate well with one another to defeat the enemy. GO TEAM!

For as much of a testosterone-juiced Great American ride this film is, it also does its best to appeal to the ladies. I mean if this is such a guy film, what is with that slow motion volleyball sequence? It does nothing but display buff and greased up Val Kilmer and Tom Cruise, as they dive in the sand, and wipe their oily pecs off. I don’t need that! In fact the only guy who keeps his shirt on is Anthony “Revenge of the Nerds” Edwards. Good move Tony, and thanks for sparing the rest of us.

Also for the fairer sex is a strong female identification: Charley (Kelly McGillis). She holds a position of power and respect over the pilots. She is serious and focused when it comes to her work and her life. Charley rejects Maverick’s initial immature advances. She later accepts Maverick on her own terms and even to her own benefit.

If I remember correctly this film was quite the phenomenon. Like every other popular film from the 80s, Kenny Loggins (fuck yeah!) sang the opening song. Highway to the Danger Zone was one of those songs you sang as a kid to be cool (that is if you were a kid when this movie came out). When I was terrorizing the neighborhood, I had ‘the need. (All together please) THE NEED FOR SPEED!’ And how many people did you know that immediately bought one of those puffy leather jackets with all the patches or aviator sunglasses because they wanted to be Maverick? I thought so. This movie was big, and it is still pretty big (well maybe not). I may never watch another Jerry Bruckheimer film again (how can you blame me with attempts like Con Air, Armageddon, and Pearl “necklace” Harbor), but every once in a while I will get caught up in Top Gun.

SIDE NOTE: I can’t believe I got to this film before Jackass Jon. But I have no fear that Jon will find some other 80s flicker to post on in no time. And what the hell is Tim Robbins doing in this film?

8 out of 10 Jackasses
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