In preparation for watching the splashy sequel to film classic “Top Gun,” I decided to rewatch the 1986 original, remembering it as “great, one of the best movies I’ve ever seen.”
Clocking in at a shade over two (very long) hours, the original “Top Gun” was so cheesy I fully expect to be constipated for the foreseeable future. Sorry, not sorry.
How could my memory of the movie’s greatness be so off? Did I honestly not notice the ham-handed love scenes, directed with the deft touch of a weekend porn producer whose real job was selling burial insurance? Sorry. Final expenses, I meant.
Rewatching a movie you considered “classic” decades later is bound to result in disappointment. I remember sobbing in the theater at the demise of mega-bro “Goose,” played by Anthony Edwards who would, inexplicably, go on to land the role of a decidedly nebbish doc on “ER.”
Watching “Top Gun” for the first time in 36 years makes me question everything I believed back then. Maybe “Take My Breath Away” really wasn’t the greatest romantic ballad of all time. Sigh.
Because the aerial shots were so exciting, much was forgiven, including the truly awful and chemistry-free tongue dance performed by Kelly McGillis and Tom Cruise. Lord have mercy. I fully expected him to just start licking her face like a springer spaniel.
“It’s a great story of romance and adventure,” I had told Duh, who never saw “Top Gun” for some weird reason, but who has also never seen “The Godfather” or “Star Wars” so clearly he was a wolf-boy or something growing up.
“We can’t see the sequel until you see this because you’ll be lost,” I told him, prissily.
As the final credits mercifully rolled, Duh looked at me with new eyes. Possibly because he’d tried to gouge out his old ones.
“That was horrible,” he said, holding out his hand, not to hold but to receive the remote.
“In 1986, this was state of the art! Those special effects were cutting edge.”
But it was too late. When I recommend a terrible movie, which happens with alarming frequency, I’m placed in marital movie “time out.” It could take a while to regain trust. Things hadn’t derailed this badly since I recommended the second “Sex & the City” movie, which left him snoring soundly only 30 minutes in.
The jaw-droppingly bad script made me wonder what kind of a writer I was back in 1986. So, I took a look at some old clips from one of my first reporting jobs. On the birth of a mule in a nearby county, this lead sentence: “Her mother was a nag and her father was a jackass…”
I have to admit it’s not the first time a movie has suffered for the (much) later rewatching. While I adored “Titanic,” 25 years ago, I can’t watch it now because I want to strangle that paper-skinned hag when she drops the “Heart of the Ocean” into the sea knowing the blue diamond the size of a conch shell could’ve ended world hunger. Dotty battle axe.
And don’t get me started on “It’s a Wonderful Life,” which obviously was made before I was born but was a late-bloomer in popularity, not really coming into its own until the copyright lapsed in the ’70s allowing it to be shown free and often continuously on TV.
Decades later, I maintain Pottertown, a boozy Vegas in the making was kinda great.`
To be honest, the only very old movies I can’t find fault with are “Paper Moon” (1973) and “To Kill A Mockingbird” (1962). Y’all let me know the classic you once loved that now makes you say “Do whaaaat??”
Unlike a Saturday night in Bedford Falls, this could be fun.