Top Gun on the Royale With Cheese Movie Club

“Let’s go see Top Gun: Maverick,” she said to me.

“Okay,” I agreed. “But I have to see the first movie, or else I won’t know what’s going on with this one.”

“You’ve never seen Top Gun?” she replied, as if I had not experienced biology classes in high school.

And with that … I had a new entry for the Royale With Cheese Movie Club, a blog series where I finally get around to watching films that everyone in the world has seen. Okay, so it only took 35 years for me to watch it, but hey, that’s how things work.

Sure enough, one day she said to me, “I taped Top Gun, so we can watch it.”

Okay. I’m game. Let’s watch this.

So let me see if I got this film correct.

Tom Cruise plays a hotshot Navy pilot who enrolls in the most exclusive fighter pilot school in America. He gets trained by some of the toughest teachers in the class, he scores time with a civilian – and eventually falls in love with her and beds her – and although he struggles with confidence and emotional issues throughout the film, he comes out as the victor in the end – and gets the girl in the final scene.

Now replace “Tom Cruise” with “Richard Gere,” and I’ve essentially described the thumbnail plot of An Officer and a Gentleman. Heck, both characters even ride motorcycles throughout the film. They were just one instance of “I want your D-O-R!” from Tom Skerritt …

Now there were plenty of action scenes in the film – cool 1986-era fighter jet action which, had I been in a theater rather than sitting on a couch, might have given me vertigo – but a lot of the film, for me, felt like a 1980’s-era music video. And I’m still trying to figure out why there was a shirtless volleyball scene in the film, unless it had something to do with providing some eye candy for female viewers.

I mean, throughout the film, Tom Cruise makes mistakes, he struggles with his confidence, but in the end, he wins out over every challenge, every obstacle. Essentially, he’s a male Mary Sue. Everything went right each time, no matter how much me messed it up. Even the death of his friend Goose worked out in the end for him.

I mean, it was a lot of action in the film, for sure, but for me it felt like a lot of emptiness. All sizzle and no steak.

However, now that I watched the film, I’ll be ready to take the girlfriend to see Top Gun: Maverick at some point.

Or maybe I’ll just wait for it to appear in the On Demand channel, so that I don’t get vertigo in the theater with 2022-era jet fighter scenes.