I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Top Gun

tn_topgunI’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve watched the whole TOP GUN since the ’80s. But I wasn’t too surprised to watch it and see the primordial matter that eventually crawled out and grew into the works of Michael Bay. It’s a mix of gorgeous sunsets, heat trails, fetishized military hardware, bosses played by grizzled character actors (Michael Ironside, Tom Skerritt, the principal guy from BACK TO THE FUTURE), sweaty foreheads, sunglasses, electric guitars, crisp uniforms, the glorification of glistening bodies (in this case mostly male, and good at volleyball), and profoundly unprofessional hot shot yahoos who are supposed to represent the best of the American best.

One difference: less spectacle. This is an impressively small story. For all its bluster this isn’t RED DAWN positing a communist invasion of America. This is about a guy involved in two small international incidents, basically just encounters between jets from opposing armies (nationality unspecified, but you fuckin know it’s Ivan Drago under that helmet). And though it has a reputation as a Navy recruiting film, since it famously worked as one, it’s not politically propagandistic. There’s nothing to make these “Bogies” evil. They’re just part of a system, people doing their job. They see American fighters where they’re not supposed to be, so they try to scare them off. The reverse of what happened in the opening.

What did surprise me was how much the antagonist Iceman (Val Kilmer, MINDHUNTERS) was clearly right. The way I remembered it he was some prick who had it in for Maverick and what is his problem. That’s how the movie frames it, and how Kilmer plays it. But every time they get in each other’s faces about something Iceman is clearly correct. He’s always concerned about safety. Maverick pulled some show off move that could’ve gotten people killed, and Iceman wonders if that sort of behavior contributed to the accident that ended their mutual friend’s career. Who wouldn’t wonder that? Only somebody who wasn’t paying attention.

mp_topgunIn the end Maverick does learn from Iceman, but it almost feels like he didn’t, because the emphasis all throughout the movie is on Maverick is awesome, ha ha, that guy got upset at what he did. What a pussy.

The love story also feels a little goofier outside of that Reagan era air we were breathing. Here’s this beautiful Navy instructor (Kelly McGillis, THE INNKEEPERS) who correctly turns down the obnoxious student who tries to pick her up at a bar (and follows her into the women’s restroom!). But when she finds out he personally got a close-up look at an elusive enemy  airplane she invites him over to question him about it and next thing you know they’re in love somehow.

Sometimes there are famous scenes that seem at the time like they make sense, and then years later you’re not sure what we as a civilization were thinking at the time. One example is that beloved comedy about the oppressed nerds who get their revenge on the popular kids by starting a fraternity and then spycamming and raping the sorority girls. This one’s not as drastic but it still puzzles me: what was it about the ’80s that we thought it was so cool for dudes to sing songs from the oldies station? It worked for Maverick, it worked for David Addison, it even worked for the kids in STAND BY ME. Was this activity filling a hole in the national psyche that existed until karaoke became popular in the States? Or is it vice versa, did karaoke spread so far and fast because there weren’t enough scenes like this in movies? Sure, we had public serenading scenes in 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU, MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING and SCREAM 2, but it was too little too late.

At the time of TOP GUN, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” (which, by the way, is clearly about an ending relationship, it’s not easy to misunderstand like “I Will Always Love You,” so what the fuck is he thinking?) had been a #1 hit twenty years earlier. So for a movie to do something equivalent as of this writing in 2015 there would be some really good possibilities. “Kiss From A Rose” be Seal featuring Batman’s Nipples is the most obvious, but there’s also “On Bended Knee” by Boyz II Men, “Fantasy” by Mariah Carey, “One Sweet Day” by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men, “Waterfalls” by TLC, “This Is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan, “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?” by Bryan Adams, “Take a Bow” by Madonna, “You Are Not Alone” by Michael Jackson, “Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio. “Creep” by TLC would be a good choice for a “Lovin’ Feelin'” type obvious inappropriateness (it’s about cheating), but I think I gotta go with “Exhale (Shoop Shoop)” by Whitney Houston. That one would be good because you’re at a bar and you’re hitting on this woman by singing that “If you’re searching for a place you know / a familiar face / somewhere to go / You should look inside yourself / You’re halfway there.” Also all that “Shoop shoop shoop shoo be doop” stuff is kinda like the “badoomp badoomp badoom boom boom” that the other guys sing in TOP GUN (indicating that he has done this to get laid a whole bunch of times before and they want to help).

I don’t know man. I don’t know why you would do that, why it would work, why you would choose that song. It was a different time. Maybe there was a certain entitlement to it. In my opinion I am the best pilot there is, therefore you motherfuckers have to pretend whatever stupid shit I do is cool. It’s weird. If Tom Cruise tried that shit now everybody would say it was some bizarre Scientology thing, but at the time everyone was like “Remember how he badly sang that song at her in front of everybody! I LOVED THAT!”

Contemporary 1986 music was even more important to TOP GUN than oldies were. Obviously “Take My Breath Away” was a huge hit, and “Highway to the Danger Zone” perfectly captures that corny white dude version of awesome that makes the decade so adorable in retrospect. And with Harold “Axel F Theme” Faltermeyer doing the score and Giorgio “SCARFACE” Moroder producing the songs you got a lot of good keyboard shit, that’s guaranteed.

One thing I am not clear on is if they ever did get to the Danger Zone, or if they were just traveling in that direction. Is the Danger Zone that place over the border where they’re not supposed to go, is a state of being where you are just a reckless jackass who will most likely get your friends and colleagues killed because you think you’re so awesome, is it a zone of inappropriate relationships that could destroy your girlfriend’s career if found out? I don’t know but it does sound in the song like it’s a pretty cool zone.

And the cinematography! Holy shit. I don’t think the dog fight scenes, with the lingo and maneuvering and targeting and shit, are all that exciting. But you can really see how much real footage they have of the jets, and how well they shot them. It was new at the time and even now it’s not something we’ve seen alot of. I’m not one of those anti-digital zealots, but this is the type of movie that makes you miss the days before computers were a shortcut.

The coloring on the blu-ray is so stunning, so modern, I honestly wonder if it really was supposed to look like that. It might be one of those digital age re-colorings that is not faithfully re-creating how it looked when projected. I don’t remember movies looking like that back then. But it looks great.

Writers Jim Cash & Jack Epps Jr. went on to write LEGAL EAGLES, THE SECRET OF MY SUCCE$S, TURNER & HOOCH, DICK TRACY, ANACONDA, THE FLINSTONES IN VIVA ROCK VEGAS, and ANACONDAS: SEARCH FOR THE BLOOD ORCHID (story). This one was inspired by a magazine article, much like THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS.

For Tony Scott, of course, it was the mainstream breakthrough after THE HUNGER (and a previous drama called LOVING MEMORY) that would define the rest of his career. He did even dumber movies (BEVERLY HILLS COP II) and smarter ones (TRUE ROMANCE, CRIMSON TIDE) and he developed that crazy A.D.D. style he became known for later, but TOP GUN pretty much defined a certain Tony Scott vibe that never left him. It didn’t seem all that shocking that he was considering TOP GUN 2 at the time of his death.

I do not believe this is a good movie. It’s a really fuckin stupid movie in a slick package with a giant picture of a sunset on the front and on the back and then when you look at it closer you realize it’s reflected in a pair of mirrored sunglasses. But it’s something. I’ll probly watch it again some day.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 4th, 2015 at 11:06 am and is filed under Action, Drama, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

79 Responses to “Top Gun”

  1. This movie has become impossible to view as anything but a comedy. You could take this script and reshoot it as TEAM AMERICA II and not have to change a word.

  2. It’s weird to me that I’m a big fan of the Cruiser, Tony Scott and Val Kilmer as well as someone who watched a lot of the 80’s classics (ie: PREDATOR, ROBOCOP, COMMANDO, 48HRS, THE TERMINATOR, BACK TO THE FUTURE, ET, RAIDERS, EMPIRE etc.) back IN the 80’s I’ve never in my life ever recall watching TOP GUN. Nor being interested in ever watching it. Yet I rocked with the soundtrack hard as fuck since my dad had it on vinyl back then. Even scratched it trying to sample some shit on to a tape deck through a regular turntable back when I was a shorty.

  3. Recently saw this one again, myself. I like it just fine, but would place it last if I was to rank Tony Scott’s films – I’d place it just below DAYS OF TUNDER and BEVERLY HILLS COP 2. Strange that his first series of films with Bruckheimer (and Don Simpson!) are the lesser ones, yet his later films with them are his very best. DEJA VU being the best.

  4. I’ll take DAYS OF THUNDER over DEJA VU personally. CRIMSON TIDE and REVENGE over both of those too.

  5. One day…the magic of DEJA VU will reveal itself to you. Mark my words!

  6. DAYS OF THUNDER is silly but not in a good way,

  7. Though I mostly agree, there are some worthwhile things in it. I get a kick out of Cruise’s entrance in the film, and I like the Zimmer score. And the gorgeous colors! By no means a good film, just like it’s predecessor TOP GUN, but I enjoy it too much to flat out dismiss it.

  8. Obviously The Danger Zone was a metaphor for the AIDS epidemic – Don’t be a Goose. Choose your Wing Man carefully and watch out who’s riding your tail.

  9. Fond memories of my dad always turning the volume up to 11 on a makeshift TV stereo set-up (that probably makes my current surround set-up sound like a stack of Marshalls), just for the opening of this movie.

    To Vern’s point about the smallness of the story, it’s not about the sort of jingoism of the time but about competition. Volleyball aside, this is almost like a sports movie in terms of the perceived one-upsmanship going on. Sort of appropriate since Cruise’s other big hit that year was THE COLOR OF MONEY.

    Speaking of which, I swear Scorsese stole a shot from this and repurposed it in THE DEPARTED 20 years later.

  10. I think a key to the movie’s success is the real fighting with people getting killed doesn’t come until the end. Most of the flying is just fun and games during the training at Miramar. It’s basically paintball in the sky. Goose gets killed in an accident but for the most part it’s fun.

  11. I would just like to take this moment and say that “Take My Breath Away” may actually be the single worst song ever written in human history, and that includes traditional Japanese folk music. Thank you for your time.

  12. That 80s/90210 phenomenon of the epitome of coolness being “Johnny Be Good”-era rock & roll music, diners, etc — I’ve wondered if it’s because all the people in Hollywood who were making the decisions around that time grew up in the 1950s, and were having midlife crises in the 1980s, and deluded themselves into thinking that they were showing the young heavy-metal-listening whippersnappers of the day what cool really was by giving Jason Priestly a pompadour.

    Then again, maybe it was just Back to the Future’s fault.

  13. Yeah, this movie is kind of dumb, but it still gets me when Goose dies.

    Psychic Hits – I think you’re onto something. I think the 80s, the recycling of 1950s music and motifs was pure Reagan era nostalgia, but by the time we get to the 90s it becomes postmodern kitsch.

  14. The fifties nostalgia boom started in the seventies with AMERICAN GRAFFITI, HAPPY DAYS, and GREASE. Plus, early punk bands like the Ramones took inspiration from greaser style and from the relative primal simplicity of the music of that era when compared to the bloat and bombast of seventies arena rock. So while there’s no doubt that Boomer smugness about their own legacy had a hand in all the fifties stuff the eighties pushed on its youth, it was already in the air before that from a variety of sources.

  15. And we’re experiencing it all over again as 80’s nostalgia is seemingly everywhere now. ABC has two shows set in the 80’s, Amazon Prime has RED OAKS (which is actually quite good), and Netflix’s BOJACK HORSEMAN while modern is pretty steeped in 80’s references.

    Mr. S: I think “Everything I Do” from ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES is much worse. It took Bryan Adams completely into doing stupid ballads, away from the respectable modern rock of songs like “Run To You” and “It’s Only Love”.

  16. Speaking of BACK TO THE FUTURE, Vern recently made this confession on Twitter:

    I have a confession to make. I really don’t give a shit about BACK TO THE FUTURE. I have been living with this secret for many years.

    Vern, you owe it to yourself and your readers to review at least the first BTTF. I watched it again recently after not having seen it in more than a decade, and it not only holds up, it impressed me as a fantastic example of fine filmmaking. It has a great cast, an interesting plot that is perfectly paced, and the script is incredibly lean and efficient–there are pretty much no scenes or even lines of dialogue that don’t serve the story (or at least set up a joke that’s later paid off). I am confident that the film really is worthy of your time, and I think you should check it out someday. Even if you weren’t interested when you were younger, perhaps the older and wiser version of you will find things to like about it now.

  17. Oh, yeah. The punk scene definitely went back to the 50s for inspiration. Actually, this whole conversation has made me realize how varied representations of the 50s have been over the last forty years. It’s not just for Baby Boomer nostalgia (although it’s that too).

    I haven’t seen BTTF in a long time, but I watched those movies constantly as a kid. I remember someone once saying that the first film’s plot was like the beautiful inner workings of a clock. Everything just fit together perfectly. But I suppose Vern has earned the right to skewer sacred cows and make them into beef or whatever.

  18. I second Mike’s notion for Vern to revisit BTTF 1, also I’ll back up what Batty just said for it too. In some respects for me I view it as a trilogy since I was first exposed to them around the time they came out. But the first is still the best.

  19. Vern, you really need to give Spy Game and Deja Vu a watch. They’re the hidden overlooked gems of Scott’s filmography in my book.

  20. The fact that Boyz II Men is to the 2010s as Righteous Brothers is to mid-1980s puts me deeply in touch my mortality. Wow. Fortunately, this existential blow is softened by Vern referring to Top Gun as “the primordial matter that eventually crawled out and grew into the works of Michael Bay.”

    I have not seen this, believe it or not. I did enjoy Spy Game (Tony Scott) and Back to the Future (Not Tony Scott) when I last watched them.

  21. A couple firsts for young Li with this movie. First time I was aware of a movie using great technical chops to gloss over incredibly insipid drama. Seriously, this is Proto-Bro High-Five With Gleaming Teeth: The Movie, with a dash of Absurd Stupid Love. Also, first time I recognized a scene as wholly gratuitous exploitation – so much easier to recognize when you’re not a fan of slo-mo shirtless volleyball or Kenny Loggins.

    To overfocus on “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” – it’s not a break-up song, it’s a confrontation-for-rejuvenation song – there’s that whole bridge about Getting Down on My Knees for You and Not Letting Our Love Slip Away, right? Plus, Hall & Oates had a hit cover of it in the early 80s, so it was kind of a last-five-years song at the time.

    But a nicer memory: Meg Ryan.

  22. Digression: Decent movie but the time travel in Deja Vu makes absolutely no fucking sense.

  23. My father-in-law is a retired Air Force pilot and loves this movie. I can’t for the life of me understand why. It’s beyond ridiculous. I was too young to care about this movie when it first came out but seeing it in the early 1990’s, I remember being unable to fathom how it was ever taken seriously when it was released. Seeing it recently, it was worse than I remembered.

    It’s actually amazing that Charlie Sheen was able to parody this film in Hot Shots because Top Gun itself feels like a self-contained parody.

  24. The original Back to the Future is actually my favorite movie of all time. Right ahead of DIE HARD by one spot. I know that as of late especially people on the internet have been blowing it out of proportion with the BTTF nostalgia.

    However that movie was always a perfect storm. I could give or take the sequels. I don’t always view it as a trilogy when I rewatch. Though I do enjoy the sequels for what they are. Especially the Western. However that original movie is what made me fall in love with movies in the first place back when I first watched it in ’87. I’m always thankful for BTTF.

  25. RBatty024, Even Queen back in the 1980s liked to do a little medley of Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti”, Elvis Presley’s “You’re So Square” and Ricky Nelson’s “Hello Mary Lou” in the middle of their concerts just for fun. You can look it up on YouTube. Sometimes it’s nice to go back to the roots of rock and roll.

  26. They also did “Jailhouse Rock” live. Speaking to the 50’s nostalgia happening in the 70’s, there was also the ROCK & ROLL album John Lennon released in ’75.

    Neil Young even did an album of rockabilly standards and original songs in that style in ’83.

    Cry, Cry, Cry - Neil Young and The Shocking Pinks

    Groovy! Everybody's Rockin' is a 1983 album by Neil Young and the Shocking Pinks. The album was recorded with the Shocking Pinks (a band made up just for the...

    Wonderin' - Neil Young and The Shocking Pinks

    Groovy! Everybody's Rockin' is a 1983 album by Neil Young and the Shocking Pinks. The album was recorded with the Shocking Pinks (a band made up just for the...

  27. The Original Paul

    November 5th, 2015 at 3:21 am

    Mr Subtlety and OnTheWall:

    Saying that TAKE MY BREATH AWAY and EVERYTHING I DO are the worst songs ever seems kinda harsh in a world that contains Status Quo’s WHATEVER YOU WANT, Billie Piper’s BECAUSE WE WANT TO, and (for a more recent example) Magic’s RUDE. I’m sure I could go on.

    Here’s my guilty secret: I find it impossible to hate EVERYTHING I DO. Even now. Even after hearing it two hundred goddamn times because it was at number one for half the fucking year or something like that. Look, I know it’s bad, I know why it’s bad, and I know it’s the cinematic equivalent of a Big Mac – cheap and artificially-flavoured with zero substance or nutritional value. But damn it, sometimes you just want something to fill that hole. Even if your bowels might regret it later on. I’d certainly rather have it than a couple of criminally overrated “classics”, which I could name; but I won’t, because fans of REM’s LOSING MY RELIGION or the Beatles’ HELP would get mad at me.

    So anyway… yeah. EVERYTHING I DO. Complete tripe, but not as unlistenable as you remember it to be. Honestly I don’t think TAKE MY BREATH AWAY was ever particularly “bad”… the worst I can say about it is that the slow-paced epic eighties music has a lot more weight to it than the lyrics do, so there’s a disconnect there? I wouldn’t turn it off if it came on the radio though.

    So TOP GUN… I’m pretty sure I saw it at some point but I can’t remember a damn thing about it. Not a thing. Honestly Vern’s review pretty much convinces me that I’d despise everything about it, since its flaws seem to be the exact things that would bother me. I think that’s perhaps why I remember so little about it. At the risk of dismissing a potentially valuable experience, I don’t think I’ll be seeking this one out for a rewatch.

  28. I used to dislike “Take My Breath Away,” but then I heard it a few years ago in AS TEARS GO BY and thought hey, this actually isn’t that bad. Definitely better than whatever Cantopop song they used in the alternate edit.

    On the face of it, it seems implausible that the world’s worst song would have any kind of connection to Giorgio Moroder.

  29. Did anyone play the Top Gun NES game? It was fun as hell but landing the plane was next to impossible.

  30. Ever since i first saw Top Gun I thought Iceman and his copilot were lovers. There’s a line during the first classroom scene where Tom Skerrit says something about “not making policy” which i took to mean they were turning a blind eye to personal sexual preferences.

  31. Why does everybody hate “Rude”? I hear it brought up a lot as an example of the worst songs ever, and I think it’s a cute little ditty. It’s got a recognizable melody, I understand what it’s about, and it’s not too slick and overproduced. All rare things when it comes to top 40 singles nowadays. Is it just really overplayed or something? I never listen to the radio so I never know these things. I still like “Call Me Maybe.”

  32. @Mikeoutwest, I loved the NES Top Gun game… and experienced my first real sequel shock at the terrible-ness of Top Gun 2: The Second Mission. Which was terrible. Like the TOP GUN sequel will inevitably be if they ever do actually make it, which I hope they won’t.

    But that first NES game was one my friends and I played for hours and hours. Played it with the boys.

  33. That NES TOP GUN game was confusing as hell. I never knew what you were supposed to do in that thing.

    Is Rude that one song where the guy wails “gonna marry her anyway”? if so it is definitely annoying but worse of all time? did people forget that shit like Let the Bodies Hit the Floor and Who Let the Dogs Out exist or something?

  34. Crushinator Jones

    November 5th, 2015 at 8:30 am

    I’m backing up Forest Taft. Deja Vu is a good weird Tony Scott movie and I enjoyed the hell out of it.

  35. I don’t believe anyone has ever successfully landed a plane in the TOP GUN game. It’s just not a thing that’s possible.

  36. Crushinator Jones

    November 5th, 2015 at 8:44 am

    Ok, I’ve read a little more of the comments and yes, I played the Top Gun NES game. The secret to landing? You had to hold down the buttons to slow down or speed up, you couldn’t tap them. Damn crummy NES manuals.

  37. Majestyk- Then you won´t believe me. I have landed on TOP GUN. On several occasions. But you never knew. You could just as easily end up in the ocean.

  38. I don´t think i´ve ever played THE SECOND MISSION. Which was a stupid title. Because you performed more than one mission in the first game.

  39. Along with doing 50s covers, Queen also has Thing Called Love, which is very much a throwback. Stray Cats also had that rockabilly throwback thing going in the 80s. And, for some reason I will never understand, there was also Andrew Dice Clay in the 80s.

  40. Does anyone remember some of the dialog from the movie SLEEP WITH ME?

    Sid (Quentin Tarantino): You want subversion on a massive level. You know what one of the greatest fucking scripts ever written in the history of Hollywood is? Top Gun.

    Duane (Todd Field): Oh, come on.

    Sid: Top Gun is fucking great. What is Top Gun? You think it’s a story about a bunch of fighter pilots.

    Duane: It’s about a bunch of guys waving their dicks around.

    Sid: It is a story about a man’s struggle with his own homosexuality. It is! That is what Top Gun is about, man. You’ve got Maverick, all right? He’s on the edge, man. He’s right on the fucking line, all right? And you’ve got Iceman, and all his crew. They’re gay, they represent the gay man, all right? And they’re saying, go, go the gay way, go the gay way. He could go both ways.

    Duane: What about Kelly McGillis?

    Sid: Kelly McGillis, she’s heterosexuality. She’s saying: no, no, no, no, no, no, go the normal way, play by the rules, go the normal way. They’re saying no, go the gay way, be the gay way, go for the gay way, all right? That is what’s going on throughout that whole movie… He goes to her house, all right? It looks like they’re going to have sex, you know, they’re just kind of sitting back, he’s takin’ a shower and everything. They don’t have sex. He gets on the motorcycle, drives away. She’s like, “What the fuck, what the fuck is going on here?” Next scene, next scene you see her, she’s in the elevator, she is dressed like a guy. She’s got the cap on, she’s got the aviator glasses, she’s wearing the same jacket that the Iceman wears. She is, okay, this is how I gotta get this guy, this guy’s going towards the gay way, I gotta bring him back, I gotta bring him back from the gay way, so I’ll do that through subterfuge, I’m gonna dress like a man. All right? That is how she approaches it. Okay, now let me just ask you – I’m gonna digress for two seconds here. I met this girl Amy here, she’s like floating around here and everything. Now, she just got divorced, right? All right, but the REAL ending of the movie is when they fight the MIGs at the end, all right? Because he has passed over into the gay way. They are this gay fighting fucking force, all right? And they’re beating the Russians, the gays are beating the Russians. And it’s over, and they fucking land, and Iceman’s been trying to get Maverick the entire time, and finally, he’s got him, all right? And what is the last fucking line that they have together? They’re all hugging and kissing and happy with each other, and Ice comes up to Maverick, and he says, “Man, you can ride my tail, anytime!” And what does Maverick say? “You can ride mine!” Swordfight! Swordfight! Fuckin’ A, man!

  41. On the Wall — I had heard of Neil Young’s rockabilly record, but I’ve never actually given it a spin. It’s not bad, although those videos are kind of hilariously terrible. I’m always a little suspicious of nostalgia, but I’ll admit to being a little nostalgic for decades before I was born.

  42. I am a huge Neil Young fan, and I must say, his rockabilly album EVERYBODY’S ROCKIN’ has the distinction of being probably the worst album of his long, storied career. We’re talking about a guy with 36 credited solo studio albums, not including live albums, compilations, or albums with other bands.

    It’s not just that the songs are terrible and the lyrics are corny, but the whole things sounds half-assed and poorly recorded and produced. It’s even a long-held theory that the album was deliberately terrible, and was basically just an elaborate way for Neil to thumb his nose at David Geffen and his record label, as Neil hated working for them.

  43. COCKTAIL is my favorite 80’s Cruise movie. Cool soundtrack, minimal reasons for retro-cringe, and a good date movie when I was in my late teens. Could still be, I’ll have to give it a shot on the next one. TOP GUN represents what I love and hate about 80’s movies and music – a carefree disregard for substance over style(the hate part), while simultaneously entertaining the balls off me(the love part).

    I still haven’t seen that other Best Of The Best Fighter Pilot movie, with Nic Cage and Tommy Lee Jones – FIRE BIRDS. Gotta fix that.

  44. I was always more of an IRON EAGLE man myself.

  45. It is the absurdity of having a teen pilot blowing up middle eastern bad guys in an F-16 while listening to Dio on the Walkman that makes IRON EAGLE a favourite for me. But I´m not sure of the significance of the lyrics to Hide in the Rainbow while blowing up shit. It takes a better man than me to figure that out.

  46. What’s hilarious about IRON EAGLE is its insistence that the main problem facing America is that it’s too reticent to use military force.

    I still say “Dammit, Chappy! I’m doing it my way!” whenever somebody tries to show me how to do anything.

  47. The Original Paul

    November 5th, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    Broddie and Majestyk – Yes, RUDE is that bad. It might be the worst example of white guys doing reggae since UB40 (and that’s saying something). It might be the only song about young lovers being restricted by overprotective parents where I’m actually left rooting for the overbearing father. It’s a dull badly-sung ditty about the world’s worst boyfriend asking his girlfriend’s father for permission to marry her; all so that, when the father inevitably refuses (because the guy is a fucking manipulative douchebag), the guy can go back to the girlfriend and drive a wedge between her and her father. Musically it’s just awful; add to that the fact that you’re clearly supposed to like the asshole who’s singing it, plus the fact that it got about six months’ worth of overplay, and it’s just intolerable to me.

    I do still have a sneaking liking for CALL ME MAYBE though. Come to think of it, just about everything I said about EVERYTHING I DO might also apply to that song. In contrast to TAKE MY BREATH AWAY, which I honestly think is legitimately… ok.

    Anyway… TOP GUN? *Ahem…*

  48. I think the last time I saw Iron Eagle, I was like seven, but isn’t the premise that the kid is only good at flying the jet and killing commies when he’s listening to American rock music? Maybe this was my kid mind working, but I thought that Dio was pretty much the source of his power.

    Dan – Yeah, I’ve read that plenty of people consider Everybody’s Rockin’ to be Neil Young’s worst album. I like me some Neil Young, but the man is wildly uneven past the 70s. Considering how hated the album is, I didn’t think the two posted songs were THAT bad, but I don’t see myself sitting through the entire album, even if it is apparently only thirty minutes long. According to Wikipedia, Geffen actually cut the recording session short, because they were so pissed off about what Neil Young was doing. Supposedly, there was supposed to be two extra tracks that didn’t make it because the label pulled the plug.

  49. Paul, if you think that song is the worst whiteboy reggae has to offer, you need to go into any bar in New England on a Friday night. The depths of sub-Sublime fratboy skank-strumming you’ll experience will make “Rude” sound like “Redemption Song”–which, by the way, you will definitely hear a white dude with a backwards baseball cap play like he just singlehandedly discovered and cured racism.

    I heard the first UB40 album is really good, actually. Might have to go check that out.

  50. I’m a big enough Neil Young fan that I can find the good in almost everything he’s done, even his much much much less popular later stuff. But EVERYBODY’S ROCKIN’ is a real head-scratcher; THIS NOTE’S FOR YOU or CSNY’s AMERICAN DREAM are probably equally shitty in many ways, but they don’t feel nearly as lazy.

  51. The Original Paul

    November 5th, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    Majestyk – the “any bar” argument is hardly a fair one. I could go to five bars in my area and find “entertainers” who can barely sing in tune. RUDE was a massive mainstream hit that got played, constantly, in shops and pubs everywhere, for what felt like years but was probably a year or so.

    I haven’t heard too much UB40 but what I have heard has been really, really bad. I wouldn’t be shocked if they had made a good album though. Status Quo apparently had a fantastic second album that very few people have ever heard, and I don’t think you can get much worse than their “mainstream” stuff.

  52. Its ubiquity doesn’t have anything to do with the song itself, and I have effectively isolated myself from having to hear any music against my will anyway, so all that stuff doesn’t really matter to me. I think it’s a cute little unpretentious one-hit wonder. I like those.

  53. Try to sit through the full rendition of the theme “song” from THE SHIELD. That shit makes any music sound good in comparison.

  54. “back IN the 80’s I’ve never in my life ever recall watching TOP GUN. Nor being interested in ever watching it. Yet I rocked with the soundtrack hard”

    Same here, I never watched the film at the time but loved the soundtrack. Anway I watched it years later and loved Iceman and thought Maverick was annoying and my sister told me I don’t have a good taste in men.

  55. The Original Paul

    November 6th, 2015 at 4:13 am

    Majestyk – in all fairness, the ubiquity of the song doesn’t make it bad. Everything else about the song is what makes it bad. The ubiquity just makes it worse.

    I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one (as always!) Otherwise… *preps best sarcastic Joker voice…* I think we’re destined to do this forever.

  56. Sorry, Paul, you can hate “Rude” all you want, but Shoot wins this one: The theme song from THE SHIELD is the worst song ever recorded. It sounds like Limp Bizkit trying to play along with the radio in a bodega without knowing any of the words or notes.

  57. The Original Paul

    November 6th, 2015 at 6:45 am

    Majestyk – I’ve never watched THE SHIELD, but I think you’ve convinced me on that one.

  58. I love THE SHIELD, but Mr. M is right the theme song is aggressively abrasive. It is an in your face symphony of shouts, and sounds that screams at you until you beg for it to end.

  59. I wasn’t a big fan of the “Rude” song but at least they look like they’re playing instruments. It’s just harmless and boring. I try to stay away from Top 40, but I’ll hear it at the mall or whatever.

    I’ve seen every episode of THE SHIELD and I never listened to the entire theme song until just now, holy shit. It’s the usual late-90s rap-rock, half sounding like just a crap version of “Bring The Noise”. I liked rap as a little kid, but fell out of it once I started playing rock music. Got back into it a little around 1996 or so, and loved me some 2Pac when it was time to go out and I still can appreciate Taleb Kweli or even Luda, but I’m not an expert.

    When rap-rock happened, well, that wasn’t really my thing (loved FAITH NO MORE though!)

    Anyway, when I was little I really didn’t want to see TOP GUN because Tom Cruise just always looked like a smarmy asshole and I didn’t really like any of his movies up until that point except for LEGEND (the least Tom Cruise-y of all of his films until TROPIC THUNDER.) And then I saw it, and I loved it. The jets were great, Val Kilmer is an awesome douchebag, Anthony Edwards is so likable, I just thought it was super sweet. Then we all acted it out and talked about it on the playground at grade school.

    But I think it’s one of those movies that’s best left in the haze of memory. I find that with almost all 80s television (seriously, when’s the last time you watched V or THE A-TEAM? Fucking A) and old DOCTOR WHO (which breaks my heart.)

  60. TOP GUN is extra cheesy but I really enjoy it. Within the world of cinema Hollywood is credited with creating what is known as “romantic cinema”. The term romantic cinema does not have to do with a films content or story, instead it is in reference to how that story is presented using the medium of film. Romantic cinema is about evoking emotion by putting an emphasis on beauty over realism. In general most Hollywood films regardless of the genre feature attractive people presented in beautifully crafted images that when presented through that filter romanticize the subject matter. TOP GUN is slick and sentimental Hollywood romantic cinema turned up to 11. Every frame of the film is expertly crafted and looks great. In fact Scott presents the macho subject matter and themes of brotherhood in such a stylized and sun bathed extreme way that it is no wonder that some people interpret TOP GUN as a gay film. Actually I think TOP GUN works as thematic and stylistic relative of the best John Woo films.

    PS: Just to be clear I am not saying TOP GUN is as good as A BETTER TOMORROW, but they do deal with many of the same themes and are both presented in a heightened and stylized romantic fashion that is heavy on the melodrama.

  61. Charles:

    I don’t mean to belittle your actual comparison to the works of John Woo, but I somehow managed to misread your post as “Actually I think TOP GUN works as a thematic and stylistic relative of the best John Waters films,” which struck me as being accurate and insightful.

  62. Mike, hows it like a Water’s film? I would say TOP GUN is on the opposite end of the spectrum from what Water’s does. I have only seen a couple Water’s films but his work exists outside of the Hollywood romantic cinema I was discussing. If anything it is counter culture designed to subvert or mock what TOP GUN is presenting.

  63. You guys wanna discuss bad music? You don’t know SHIT about bad music until you took the time to dig deep through German Apre Ski, Ballermann or Karnevals songs.

    Also this.

    Grup Tekkan - Wo bist du, Mein Sonnenlicht (Studio Version)

    Ein wenig umgeschnitten und passend für die Studio Version gemacht ... viel Spaß ;-) CD überall wo es "Musik" zu kaufen gibt ...

  64. God God, CJ. Haven’t your people done enough damage?

  65. Charles: They’re both super gay is what I think Mike was driving at.

  66. Charles:

    Well, I guess I was not actually thinking in terms of the romantic cinema you described in your post. But I don’t agree that the films of John Waters are on the opposite end of the spectrum from things like TOP GUN. In my view, TOP GUN is (unintentional) kitsch, and Waters’ films are (intentional) camp–they are adjacent, not opposite.

  67. One thing I don’t think anyone here has mentioned is the unlikely coda of the TOP GUN saga: With SUPERGATOR, STAKE LAND, THE INNKEEPERS, WE ARE WHAT WE ARE, and even an episode of Z NATION, Kelly McGillis has really reinvented herself as a dependable horror icon. She’s Glass Eye Pix’s Peter Cushing. Good on her.

  68. Mike, I see your point. Waters works are intentional parody and TOP GUN is presented in such extremes that it could be viewed as parody. The intent is different but the result is similar.

    Mr. M, there is no denying that TOP GUN presents shirtless guys playing volleyball in a romanticized and fetishistic way, but it also presents sun sets and fighter plans in a romantic and fetishistic way.

  69. Charles: I’m just riffing on the movie’s reputation. I see what you’re getting at.

  70. Don´t forget about B-Tight! I am not a hiphop enthusiast, but that shit is not good.

  71. Mr. M, no worries. I actually laughed at your comment. I was just worried I was doing a bad job of explaining my point.

  72. I can’t in good conscience hate on UB40. For the simple fact that THE VERY BEST OF UB40 VOL. 1 used to hold me down whenever I found myself cleaning up around the house back in the early to mid 90s. They’re OK in my book for that compilation alone.

  73. The first UB40 album is pretty good, in my opinion. I think the mistake that is often made is to see it as a reggae album; it’s a terrible reggae album. It’s clearly a pop album, much in the way that the Specials were pop, not ska. “Food For Thought” is a tremendous song.

    Everybody’s Rockin’ is the only Neil Young album I’ll listen to, mostly because it sounds the least like Neil Young. I don’t dislike him or anything, but I’d never go out of my way to actually listen to him. If his record Trans committed more fully to the goofy syth stuff I’d listen to it too. Comes a point where you just get saturated with boomer shit [longer rant on this subject excised].

    I’m with Vern on BACK TO THE FUTURE. I was the target demographic for that movie, I saw it in the theater, and it left me largely indifferent. Possibly because Michael J. Fox’s pollyanna persona has always seemed facile me.

    And I think the sequels are utterly horrendous.

  74. Why do we debate UB40? They stink. Period.

  75. The Original... Paul

    November 7th, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    Pegsman – please don’t get into thinking that your opinion is the only one that matters**. Honestly, from what I’ve heard of them, I agree with you… but others may not. And that’s ok. Ok?

    **Because clearly, the only opinion that matters is mine. I mean, we can all agree on that, right?

  76. The Original... Paul

    November 7th, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    And I’m not quite sure how we got from TOP GUN to BACK TO THE FUTURE, but I actually prefer #2 to #1 of that series. I think they’re all good, although I don’t have a particular emotional attachment to any of ’em.

    I think #2 went way into “alternate reality” territory, which isn’t too far from what attracts me about bodyshock horror – the idea that there’s somebody who looks like somebody you know, possibly somebody you love, and yet it isn’t really them. And the resulting paranoia, suspicion, etc. Only instead of it being an alien who’s replaced your loved one, it’s a version of that loved one from a whole different timeline. So they’re essentially the same person but without the same memories, experiences, even personality, as the ones you remember.

  77. There’s one strong link between Top Gun and BTTF and Vern hinted at it himself, James Tolkan. He’s great in the limited capacity he has in the BTTF movies, especially in the 2nd where there’s this really tense scene where Marty is trying to retrieve the sports book. It’s all movement, smart editing and tense score with no dialogue. He’s 85 and still working, last appearing in the HBO Phil Spector movie and has a credit in BONE TOMAHAWK.

    That’s a good reading of 2, Paul. There’s a great book out called WE DON’T NEED ROADS about the making of all the movies, and during one table read of the first movie, Eric Stoltz opined about how he read the ending as sad. Marty’s family is obviously living better, but they aren’t necessarily the same people because of the changes that happened when the character went back in time. One of the interesting things about the alternate 1985 in 2 is that it seems to be the flip side of what was the American Dream in 1985. The rampant greed of one man turning the town into a cesspool marks a different story than the guy who lusts after a truck nearly as much as his girlfriend.

  78. I watched this for the first time earlier this year, and I found it to be dated really badly. 100% 80’s cheese, I actually thought the dog fight scenes were pretty cool though. I read somewhere that they were limited by the Navy in what they could shoot so they ended up using models for some shots – the Navy thought this was real and got all pissed off about it.

    Also in regards to the sequel, allegedly Cruise wants to do it but he wants all the aircraft scenes to be REAL. The rumoured story is that they go up against drones or someshit, I’d personally prefer a prequel showing Maverick’s father’s fateful heroic mission.

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