Have you watched your ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ today?

By Teddy Allen

Apparently, the government has issued a command or passed a law or sent out a decree that all the world, at least every living person in America, must see the new Tom Cruise movie, Top Gun: Maverick, each in his own city, and not just once but at least two or three times, or else they’ll cut off your … cable?

So, I went to see it. 

Wasn’t 100 percent sold on the idea, but if you want to have a decent conversation with anyone these days, you have to have seen Top Gun: Maverick, hereafter referred to as a space-saving Top Gun, the original movie title in 1986.

The current movie is the sequel. In the original, Cruise and his friends were hot-shot fighter pilots in the United States Navy, the best of the best. The cast did an excellent job of portraying what is required from the real pilots defending us as we speak, and let’s take a moment and be grateful they’re on our side.

A couple of things: I haven’t been “to the show” in three years and not to a show on Saturday afternoon, something normal functioning people often do, since—taking a legit guess here—Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in 1968-ish. That show was so bad it kept me out of Saturday afternoon movie houses for decades, even when a good John Wayne or Clint Eastwood was playing.

Became a nighttime guy.

But I went back Saturday, although it was iffy. Online tickets were sold out except for a seat here or there, and this at theaters that were playing Top Gun on several screens. 

Somehow, we ended up as fortunate as some of the pilots portrayed in the movie. We got golden tickets. And suddenly there we were, with Tom Cruise onscreen as himself welcoming us to the picture show in what I thought was a nice touch.

Then it started.

If you didn’t see the original, you’ll still “get the picture.” Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, years and years after his graduation from the TOPGUN Naval aviation program — Cruise’s character is basically 718 in pilot years by now — gets called back to instruct elite fliers. One of those youngsters is Lt. Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw, the son of Maverick’s late wingman and best friend, Goose.

You’ve noticed these need-for-speed pilots have nicknames. Maverick. Rooster. Goose. The new movie is not lacking in this area: there’s Carburetor and Skeeter, Mud Flaps and Truck Nuts. Eat My Rubber. My favorite is Bob. “Bob.” True story. Apparently, any name’s game as long as it can be stenciled onto the front of a flight helmet.

Another holdover from the original: a bad mustache. Goose, who tragically did not make it through the original, had that special kind of very 1980’s porn star mustache. In any strip club in any country, you still see this kind of mustache worn by most all patrons. And by some of the dancers. Not a good look.

So, in the sequel, to make us know for certain that this was Goose’s offspring, they made the son have that same mustache. I’d have bought in without that hammer over the head, but perhaps it made for a key plot element, subliminal and all: Could Rooster overcome a haunting legacy AND the lame mustache?

Glad I bought a ticket to find out (even though the government made me go). It was worth it. Three different times, I thought the film was over, but Things Kept Happening. It was like three movies in one.

And thank goodness they made this thing a couple of years ago before gas prices soared higher and faster than a F/A-18 Super Hornet. If they’d made it today, a ticket would cost $147.

We rate it VG for Very Good. No sex. No cussing that I recall. And just the right amount of sentiment in paying homage to the original. I almost cried one time — but maybe that was because I really needed to go to the bathroom.

Contact Teddy at teddy@latech.edu


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