Friday, May 4, 2012

Top Gun (1986)

When it comes to a movie that is really a huge slab of the 80s, it’s hard to beat Top Gun. Everything from the dialogue to the rockin’ soundtrack is enough to make you cheer or cause you to lose your lunch (depending on your tolerance for all things 80s). So aside from being a relic, is it worth checking out?

Maverick (Tom Cruise) and Goose (Anthony Edwards) are two pilots who don’t play by the rules. These clowns are so skilled they are selected to go to Top Gun, the premier naval pilot academy to hone their combat skills. Maverick finds himself a rival in Iceman (Val Kilmer) who has a deadly tooth snap. He’ also finds romance in the lovely instructor Charlie (Kelly McGillis). Take a trip down the highway to the danger zone that will take your breath away but only after you’re done playing with the boys at Top Gun.

Good Points:
  • Most of the aerial footage used actual planes
  • Lots of filming style that would define later action films
  • It is oh so 80s

Bad Points:
  • Not much of a story to found in this film
  • Some of the dialogue is outrageously bad
  • It is oh so 80s

This is one dumb movie, but if you grew up with it, odds are you’ve got a soft spot for it. Watching it now, and with all the baggage that Tom Cruise brings with him, it can be almost painful. But it’s so delightfully full of itself and so darn cocky, that I can’t help but enjoy it.

Scores (out of 5)
Visuals: 4
Sound: 4
Acting: 3
Script: 2
Music: 4
Direction: 3
Entertainment: 3
Total:  3

Rifftrax Review
Here’s a tip, watch this flick with Mike Nelson and Bill Corbett providing an excellent Rifftrax commentary. This is one of the first few they tackled, so it doesn’t include Kevin Murphy. It is also a bit tough to get the sink correct right off the bat (something they got very good at doing not too long after). But they boys have plenty to work with and there are hardly any slow spots. Yes Tom Cruise and his recent antics provide some of the humor but they have a blast with all the pilots’ names (my favorite riffs revolve around Cougar and Jester). They spend some time riffing on Kenny Loggins and his awesome ‘80s tunes. They attempt to figure out where the heck the battle at the end of the movie occurs and they even manage to make the death of one of the characters very funny.

That said, I give this Rifftrax five control tower flybys out of five.

Curious about a full review, sent me an email and I’ll make additional thoughts to this review.


  1. I remember that when this film came out my sister commented on unrealistic characters in movies, such as Kelly McGillis in this film. I happened to have an Air & Space magazine (a quick search doesn't turn up an online image) with Christine Fox on the cover, who was a blonde civilian contractor (in a job much like Kelly's character) at the real Naval Top Gun facility. "Oh no!" my sister exclaimed when she saw it.

    The film was very much of its time when the military was winning back public and self respect after a bad patch in the 1970s. It is, I agree, lightweight but watchable. Thanks for RiffTrax advice.

  2. I agree. We have a great time when we revisit it, and I admit that the Rifftrax commentary makes it a annual watch, especially when we are in the mood for some laughs and the Loggin's music. What really got me on this viewing was how much the look of this film was used in so many later action flicks and really influenced the work of Michael Bay.