This is what it’s like to watch ‘Top Gun’ for the first time as a millennial

In this film publicity image released by Paramount Pictures, Tom Cruise is shown in a promotional image for the 1986 film, "Top Gun." (AP Photo/Paramount Pictures)

In this film publicity image released by Paramount Pictures, Tom Cruise is shown in a promotional image for the 1986 film, “Top Gun.” (AP Photo/Paramount Pictures)

One day in our little newsroom, my colleagues and I started talking about the movie “Top Gun.” I can’t remember how the conversation began, but the discussion grew more passionate after my co-worker and I confessed that after nearly a quarter century on Earth each, we had never taken the highway to the “Danger Zone.” I had never even seen a Tom Cruise film, a fact that emerged after a scroll through his IMDb page. Let me stress that I was surprised by how controversial this little factoid turned out to be on social media.

Conveniently enough, a few days after our lively discussion,  our fantastic movie critic Joe Gross received a copy of the 30th anniversary “Top Gun” DVD package, dropped it on my colleague Amanda O’Donnell’s desk and set us with the task of watching it together. After a couple weeks of scheduling conflicts (and lots of “You have never seen Top Gun?” remarks), we set aside a night to watch the film along some of her roommates, our fellow web desk staffers and my boyfriend. About half of the group had seen the movie before.

I think it’s important that everyone knows that my knowledge of this film comes almost 100 percent from the “I Love the ’80s” series on VH1 (RIP). This boiled down to:

  • Tom Cruise is a pilot named Maverick
  • “Danger Zone” was the soundtrack theme
  • Val Kilmer for some reason chomps his teeth at Tom Cruise
  • “Take My Breath Away” was a big hit
  • The characters play volleyball and everyone is sweaty and flexing
  • One of the pilots was named “Goose” (Anthony Edwards)

Here’s how our viewing party went:

“Cougar” was a pilot who had an episode of anxiety, and Maverick and Goose get his spot at Top Gun, which I learned was both a place and a distinction.

I probably missed something, but how did *no one* in the bar realize Maverick was trying to hit on a woman who was an instructor at Top Gun?

I just didn’t understand why Tom Cruise seemed to be the annoying class clown/guy who always made smart remarks, yet he gets rewarded. No matter: Iceman (Kilmer) will show him what’s up.

The volleyball scene … Volleyball is my absolute favorite sport to play, so I can’t blame anyone for getting sweaty. But there’s a lot of sweat, and it lasts the entirety of the movie. This scene also has a lot of not-so-subtle muscle flexing. And jeans?

As for the women of Top Gun, Kelly McGillis’ character, Charlie, is a strong, seemingly independent woman just trying to make it in a man’s world. She is too good for Maverick, and I was so over their love scene because “Take My Breath Away” had played probably 17 times leading up to it. Meg Ryan and her seriously bad hair, on the other hand, loves attention, basically shouting to everyone that Maverick has a thing for his instructor and that Goose needed to take her to bed ASAP.

Spoiler alert: Goose dies after ejecting his seat because of some risky flying, but everyone chalks it up as an accident and goes about their business while Cruise seems to brood over the loss of his buddy.

Everyone finishes Top Gun training, with Iceman taking home the trophy. From there, the pilots are put on an airship and go into battle. Maverick obviously saves the day and despite him and Iceman almost never getting along while at Top Gun, they smile and hug each other and it’s kind of beautiful in an almost-romantic-but-not-really way.

I learned there are a lot of emotional attachments to “Top Gun” from my colleagues who watched the movie when it was first released. One even said the film made him want to join the Navy.

All in all, I liked “Top Gun.” It’s extremely campy, with some odd dialogue, bad singing and lots of muscles, sweat and plane-flying.

That being said, I think I can go on without hearing “Danger Zone” and “Take My Breath Away” ever again.

 

 


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