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Welcome back to my ‘80s Archive! It’s been one heck of a ride so far, and I’m so excited to continue writing for you this year. Though the past 6 months have been crazy, there’s been a bit of a silver lining for me: cutting down on 2 hours of commuting per day = the perfect amount of time to add more movie-watching into my life.

Among the non-necessities that have (rightfully) been put on hold due to COVID-19, I’ve sorely missed going to the theaters. However, that doesn’t mean I didn’t spend some time this summer cinematically. At the end of June, my sister and I set up the projector for a week-long movie festival featuring some of our favorites. 

As it turns out, I’m not the only one who misses movies. In a moment of sheer “Celebs! They’re just like us!,” a masked Tom Cruise recently celebrated his first trip to a movie theater since the pandemic hit, as seen in this perfectly joy-inducing video.

While I can’t comment on the social distancing protocols of the London movie theater Cruise attended, I can comment on one of his films. In that spirit, here’s the Bitchin’ Bio for Top Gun.

[bf_image id="q8umny-1abp1c-cxmisg"] Release Date: May 16, 1986 

Synopsis: Fighter pilot Lieutenant Pete Mitchell (Tom Cruise), Call Sign “Maverick,” has a flippancy toward rules.  Despite this flaw, he is recruited to hone his skills at the U.S. Navy’s premier weapons training school, commonly known as “TOPGUN.” Along with his best friend and Radar Intercept Officer LT Nick “Goose” Bradshaw (Anthony Edwards), he must compete against fellow Naval pilots, such as LT Tom “Iceman” Kazansky (Val Kilmer) for the school’s trophy. Personal issues cloud Maverick’s training period, as he experiences loss, growth, and his burgeoning love for a civilian instructor, astrophysicist Charlotte “Charlie” Blackwood (Kelly McGillis).   

How I Watched It: Comcast Xfinity On Demand (Free on EPIX)

Degrees of Kevin Bacon: 1. Tom Cruise is one of the stars of the film A Few Good Men (1992), which also features Kevin Bacon.

Come For: Aerial shots. This movie is, rightfully, packed with flight scenes—and they are terrifically exciting to behold.  But even something as simple as pilots walking along a runway is made striking as they are silhouetted against jets and an orange sky. Top Gun’s cinematography is truly impressive. 

[bf_image id="q4s6il-gd0h4-e08aam"] Stay For:  You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin (YouTube video here)

A couple of the podcasts I listen to have episodes about this movie. When I listened to those episodes, many of the hosts expressed that they thought this scene was stupid. However awkward a full-on karaoke serenade to someone you haven’t met would be in real life, I don’t think it is out of place in Top Gun. In fact, I found myself smiling and laughing the whole time. Plus, since I watched it I can’t get the song out of my head!

Had I Seen It? No, and it had been on my list to watch for a long time. Luckily, the summer gave me a chance to start working through that list. 

Did I Like It? It has its problems. For one, I don’t particularly like Maverick. To break rules as a fighter pilot is to put lives at risk. There is no charm in that. I found myself siding with Iceman, his would-be rival, who disdains Maverick’s nonchalance and thrill-seeking.  

Two serious issues come to mind for the movie:

1. Maverick follows Charlie, who he doesn’t know, unsolicited, into the women’s restroom.

2. The call sign of the one black character in the movie is “Sundown.”

In addition, there is awkward writing and comically constant repetition of Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away,” along with a strange scene of shirtless volleyball among the pilots that anyone who has seen the movie will tell you is totally unnecessary. (My father asked me, laughing hysterically, if I’d seen the volleyball scene when he found out what I was watching.)  

[bf_image id="q4s6il-gd0h4-c8j9vg"] Storywise, the thing that makes me most angry is that [spoiler alert] following the death of Goose, Maverick throws his best friend’s dog tags into the ocean. Goose has a wife and son who may have wanted to keep those as a precious memory, so it’s quite a presumptuous move. 

In short, Top Gun is not the best movie I have ever seen, but I did like it. I feel that so many people these days need a movie to be next to flawless to say anything good about it, and I’m just glad that I am not one of those people. I couldn’t love watching and writing about movies if I didn’t see good in most of the ones I watch. 

Knowing the crazy stunts Tom Cruise pulls and the advancements there have been in technology and filming since the 1980s, I can definitively say that I’m curious and excited to see the upcoming sequel, Top Gun: Maverick when it comes to theaters.

Thanks for tagging along on this journey to the skies! You can be my wingman anytime.

Come back next week for The Karate Kid: Part III (1989).

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Angelina is a senior at BU, studying English in the College of Arts and Sciences, with a focus on Shakespeare. She is from Somerville, MA. In addition to writing for HCBU, Angelina is the Director of BU On Broadway Off Broadway and has been involved with theater through BU Shakespeare Society, Wandering Minds, and Stage Troupe. Outside of school, she enjoys dancing, music, baking, and movie marathons. Her pop culture heart lives in the 1980's.
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