Our story goes . . . one particularly uneventful Saturday evening, on a particularly starry night, in the early weeks of 1981, two boys, having never met, watch the same episode of BBC’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Hours later, they both dream the same dream of being Arthur Dent (and totally making it with Trillian) when Zaphod Beeblebrox initiates the Heart of Gold’s Infinite Improbability Drive. When they awoke, their fears that the dream was real are found untrue. Their lives have not been altered and life goes on the same. Until one day, quite recently actually, each still unknowing the other exists, they arrive home and discover that their easy chairs have been turned into boxes of pristine 1980’s video cassettes. And their bags of Tostitos’ and jars of dip, fully functioning VCRs and remotes. They take to Twitter and it is here that the Eric from The IPC and David from That Moment In find each other and learn of their random, connected fates. A note in the box reads:
You must watch every 80s movie in this box. For each movie, a summary would be nice. Nothing crazy. Maybe something short. Your call. Then you must review the film! To do so, choose and describe these five moments: 1) The Best Moment 2) The stupidest Moment 3) That Special 80s Sexy Moment 4) The Now’s A Good Time to Take A Pee Break Moment and finally 5) The Most Cheesiest Silly Awesome Eighties Moment. Good luck. We are watching you.
Second out of the Box: Top Gun (1986)
Inserting tape into VCR. Dimming lights. Pressing play. Fixing tracking . . .
This was a first date movie for me back when it was released. It should not have been. Taking a teenaged girl to a movie starring a young Tom Cruise is really number 1 on the list of things not to do on a first date. Comparisons are inevitable, and for starters, my late 80s Mercury Zephyr was about as far removed from a jet fighter as a thing could get, let alone my lack of washboard abs, oily tan and ability to sing Righteous Brother’s tunes. I don’t believe there was a second date. I had much better success with Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise. Nerds are great for boosting machismo!
It’s said that Top Gun was significantly responsible for a spike in Navy recruitment that summer, though I had about as much desire to fly a fighter plane as I did for driving a nail through my head. (I blame Cruise for that failed date so there was no way I was letting him sucker me into military service as well.) There was something always a little off-putting about the movie, even as a teenager. Realism was certainly not the priority, but I did start my ten year love affair with Meg Ryan with this film. I was highly devoted to whatever she wanted. Of course she had no idea I existed, which I’ll admit was a stumbling block, but all relationships have some snags. Right? Stupid Tom Hanks was the next hurdle. What was I saying? Oh, right, Top Gun. Here’s my review.
The Best Moment:
Spoiler alert! Goose dies. Who’s Goose? Shame on you! Maverick (Cruise) and Goose (Anthony Edwards) were best buddies. Goose was Maverick’s RIO, which means Really Interesting Officer. I’m making that up. It actually means Radar Intercept Officer, but mine is way better. Anyway, because of his death, which happened during a training exercise, Maverick calls it quits, feeling responsible for the mess. But before heading off to his next impossible mission (see what I did there?) he stops by his Commander’s house and has a chat with Viper, the leader’s call sign. Viper is played by Tom Skerritt, and provides, hands down, the best performance of the film. In this moment, he reveals how he once flew with Maverick’s father, and that the real story behind his dad’s mysterious death is classified. It gives Maverick a new direction and inspires him to get back in the saddle. Or in this case, the jet chair thingy. That’s what they call it, right?
The Stupidest Moment:
I won’t lie, there are a lot of rather silly moments, but the stupidest is also one of the funniest, and stupidest. I said that twice. Up to this point, Maverick has been feeling good about being the only pilot to have ever gotten close to an MiG-28 (that’s a fighter plane, not a Hip Hop artist) and survived. He’s built a reputation around his aerial prowess in that encounter. So much so that his new girl friend, (a civilian naval contractor and instructor at the Top Gun academy – she may be Amish, too!) has her panties in such a bind, she dumps her other man for him. But in front of his peers in a debriefing of that very dogfight, she lambasts him for his dangerous actions and tells the class that it is a lesson in what not to do. Ouch. That two-faced little . . . Breathe! Anyway, as she ridicules him, their love theme swells in the background and poor Maverick has his widdle-biddle feelings hurt. All the while, Iceman (Pete’s rival, played by Val Kilmer in all his slimy smarminess) smirks. But don’t worry. They have sex right after. Maverick and his new girl, not Maverick and Iceman. I think. Who knows? The shot is all blue and foggy so it’s hard to tell. Speaking of all blue and foggy . . .
The Now’s A Good Time To Take A Pee Break Moment:
I really hate to say this as I’m a romantic guy and all (stop laughing), and I love a good sex scene (in movies and in real life!), but what in the name of slurpy kiss & tell is happening in this movie? Whatever it is, it is not what it thinks it is. Far, far from it. The story goes that the love scene was added after the film had wrapped and Kelly McGillis had to come back for reshoots, but had already changed her hair style and color so they were forced to film underwater. No. That’s not true. It just sure looks like footage of a documentary on the sexual habits of marine mammals so I just assumed. Either way, I haven’t seen this much blue since I accidentally washed my whites with that bottle of antifreeze I left on the washer. Don’t do laundry in the dark. But worse than that, there is ZERO chemistry whatsoever between these actors. I have two house plants that are right now having a more powerful sexual moment than whatever this is. All they do is kind of lick each other. I mean Maverick and his new girl. Not my plants. Go to take a pee. You won’t miss a thing.
The Special 80s Sexy Moment:
Okay, seeing as this entire movie is nothing but oodles of testosterone, I might as well make this moment for the ladies since there is nothing to get a straight man even remotely tuned up (see above). The volleyball scene and its glittery shirtless boys is a landmark in cinema. Well, maybe not a landmark, but certainly a mark. A pockmark! I’m quite certain this is the very moment my date decided there was no future with a guy who wasn’t a hairless sweaty naval pilot. Curse you, Top Gun!
The Most Cheesiest Silly Awesome 80s Moment:
Well–and some might argue this–but if there is anything that screams Cheesy Silly Awesome 80s in this movie, it has to be the finale when the boys are back on the aircraft after a big scary dogfight with MiG’s. Maverick, having overcome his grief of losing Goose and saving the day by beating back those meanie bad guys, faces off with Iceman one more time. Iceman tells him he is still dangerous but can be his wingman anytime, to which Maverick replies that no, he can be his. Adorable. Then they hug. And the blue lights comes on . . . NO! They just hug. Hey, and right behind them is Tim Robbins! And there’s that now classic Harold Faltermeyer guitar and synth pounding away in the background. Just makes me want to put on some parachute pants, lace up my high tops, slip on my Member’s Only jacket and watch MTV.
So there you have it. Having sat through it again, I’m glad it’s over. Yes, there’s is some fun is seeing a young Cruise and the spark that would make him one of the most bankable actors in history. And who doesn’t like watching Vilmer chew up everything in site. The movie is pure adrenaline and while director (the late) Tony Scott does some great work in the final battle, the whole thing is just schlocky and empty. Moving on . . .