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Sibling Revivalry: Watching ‘Top Gun’ For the First Time

Top Gun
Paramount Pictures

In this installment of Sibling Revivalry, Lindsay and I tackle reader Alex’s suggestion – the beloved 1986 Tony Scott classic ‘Top Gun.’

Lindsay was far less trepidatious about this one. Probably because it stars a hunky cast, most notably: young and spritely versions of Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer and Anthony Edwards.

Turns out, she didn’t just see past the film’s “cheesy” exterior, hunky pilots and Iceman’s “Jersey Shore blowout” to enjoy some of its underlying themes, she also dropped some major knowledge on me regarding the way films affected her adolescence. Without further ado, here’s our conversation after my little sister’s first viewing of ‘Top Gun’…26 years after its release.

What did you think of Tom Cruise in this? Did you see how he had early star quality?

Yeah, he was cute. Was this his first movie?

It’s one of his early films, but not his first. How do you feel about where Cruise started when you look at where he is now?

Where is he? Is he still acting? What was he in?

Please tell me you’re being sarcastic.

‘Jerry Maguire.’ That’s all I know.

Well, that’s something. So you like that movie?

I haven’t seen it. I just know he was in it. “Show me the money!”

That’s actually Cuba Gooding Jr.’s line.

Oh. Who’s he?

Let’s move on. So this is the third movie we’ve watched together for this column. ‘Titanic,’ ‘Star Wars,’ now ‘Top Gun.’ Where does ‘Top Gun’ rank?

Number one! It was good. I think I was just excited about the whole genre. I knew what this was about. And I knew it had hot guys flying planes, so I was happy with that. It delivered.

You asked me at the beginning why the pilots were calling each other funny names. Did the film help you understand that by the end?

No.

They’re call signs. Basically: nicknames traditionally given to pilots. Sometimes, a play on their surnames. Sometimes, having to do with their personalities – as with Maverick.

That’s silly. I don’t understand why but I guess I can accept it. Is that a real thing outside the movies?

Yes. You also said you think they should do a parody of this movie, as with ‘Spaceballs’ to ‘Star Wars.’ Why?

Oh my God. Half of it’s already a parody! You could be like, “Oh hey – it’s Ice Pick!”  Or that super lame love scene was practically a parody. There’s so much!

Joke all you want. You screeched with delight and physically drooled when Val Kilmer came on the screen. And then you batted my phone out of my hand when I tried to Google photos of him to show you how he looks now.

You can’t ruin the image for me! When he came on the screen I thought, “Oh, yes. This is a great movie.” It was all hot men in UPS uniforms! What’s not to like?

Those are flight suits. But OK. How’d you like the iconic, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” scene?

UGH! They should not have made – and still should not make – scenes like that. It ruins people’s real-life expectations.

Why? Charlie shot Maverick down. That’s pretty empowered stuff, considering the fact that he serenaded her.

Yeah, what she did is lovely – the whole thing her reaction is predicated on? It doesn’t happen. “Let’s coyly drink our wine and be noticed!” Please. I bring up a very good point. There should be after-school specials about this!

You called Iceman’s hair a “Jersey Shore blowout.” Which ‘Jersey Shore’ member’s hair were you referring to?

Who’s the one with bigger hair? I think it’s Pauly. He’s got the Pauly blowout.

Let’s compare the ‘Top Gun’ in-flight action sequences to those in ‘Star Wars.’ Which did you think was more effective?

I’d say ‘Top Gun.’ Because it’s more relatable.

You hated the music in this movie. This is a super famous, best-selling soundtrack, you know? But when the iconic theme came on you sarcastically said, “There’s the winner’s music!”

Well it was interesting because you just heard it switch from where it was like trepidation to where he was flying free. [starts humming the score] There was a part where you yelled at me, “Don’t fall asleep!” I wasn’t – I was just rolling my eyes and they were closing. [laughs] The music was that bad. It was 80′s and cheesy.

We’re both in agreement that Kelly McGillis’ style is crazy dated – the hair, the ill-fitting suits, the horrible make-up. But did you at least get why Maverick was so into her?

In the bar, no. After he picks up on the power trip of her being his teacher, yes. But – since he liked her before he knew that? No, I don’t buy it.

I love that you asked me if this was taken seriously when it came out, or if it was supposed to be a funny movie.

Well, it’s an honest question. How would I know? I watch it now and it’s like a parody to me, it’s so dated and cheesy.

You thought the famous song “Take My Breath Away” was from ‘Dirty Dancing’ at first.

Mmhmm. In fact, I still do. I don’t believe you.

‘Dirty Dancing’ came out in 1987. ‘Top Gun’ released in 1986. The song was written specifically for ‘Top Gun.’ It won a “Best Original Song” Oscar for the movie.

Whatever you say.

Do you want to talk about how pissed off you got during the sex scene? You were livid. I mean, I think it’s silly too – but you were genuinely mad.

Again, the whole sex scene – it goes back to the bar scene. You’re setting the worst, most inflated expectations. This stuff doesn’t happen! Why don’t you make a movie based on stuff that actually does happen?

There are plenty of those movies, trust me. This movie is an example of escapism through idealization.

Well, a lot of the stuff we grew up on – 80′s movies like this – are overwhelmingly idealized. And I feel like I was a product of that in a lot of ways, growing up. I don’t know how in depth you want to get into this, but I remember the first time I had sex, calling my friend and being like, “Oh my God I think we did it wrong – we didn’t kiss the entire time!”

That’s a really extreme example, because obviously not kissing during sex means it’s bad sex, but it’s not wrong sex. I know that now. But I didn’t then, because of movie love scenes. Do you see what I mean? This is the shit. You learn stuff from movies, and when it’s so idealized you’re setting really false, confusing expectations.

Let’s talk about Goose. You were super sad when he died. You brought up a really interesting point about the duality between Maverick and his father and Maverick and Goose’s son.

The whole movie’s really about Maverick being so lost because he didn’t have his dad, and then he essentially does the same thing to Goose’s son around the same age that Maverick was when his dad died.

So let’s wrap up by giving each other call signs.

[long pause as we think, fail]

This is too difficult. Let’s use a call sign generator online: According to this, yours is Troll and mine is Gopher.

Troll? Seriously? Why don’t you just shoot me now.

Do you have a suggestion for the next classic we should tackle here on Sibling Revivalry? Let us know in the comments section, on Facebook or via Twitter at @ScreenCrushNews!

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