Memorial Day Weekend. A Top Gun Extravaganza. Would you Expect Anything Less?
Updated: Jun 4, 2022
I have been waiting an eternity for the Top Gun sequel (36 years to be exact). To assuage my longing, I have watched the original film more times than I can count. I can recite almost every line from the entire movie by memory. Now that's something to be proud of!
I remember seeing the first Top Gun when I was at Smith College, like it was yesterday. A group of us walked down to the local movie theatre in Northampton to see it opening weekend. I was hooked from the first time I saw it. I can remember walking home and gushing all the way.
Typically, I am known to be a movie snob, seeing only movies with the most stellar reviews. Perhaps back in 80's, I was less discerning, and thankfully so, or I would have missed this cinematic masterpiece. Although there was no Rotten Tomatoes back in the day, the movie's score today on their website is only 57% (although its audience rating is an 83%). Personally, I would have awarded it 100%! Movie reviewers have been known to miss the mark, which was clearly the case with Top Gun.
I admit that Top Gun might have a few minor flaws (although I'd be hard-pressed to think of them), but it checks all the boxes of what a movie goer like me is looking for in her cinematic experience. So beyond that, what else matters? If you've had a good time and leave the theater happy, mission accomplished.
In the original Top Gun there were cute guys (tons of cute guys), a great soundtrack (Danger Zone is genius), romance (Kelly McGillis and Tom Cruise were perfect together, you have to admit), thrilling action scenes (does it get any better than cute guys in naval flight suits dogfighting in fighter jets), topless beach volleyball scenes (all those same cute guys shedding their flight suits for assorted beachwear on the bottom and no shirts), and some of the greatest movie lines ever ("I feel the need, the need for speed"). Sorry, critics, but it doesn't get any better.
I re-watched the original Top Gun with Catherine and Graham on Saturday night (in anticipation of seeing the sequel on Sunday). I am not sure Catherine and Graham knew what to make of me. It was if I was seeing it for the first time I was so excited (although most people can't recite every line in a movie they are seeing for the first time). I made them turn the volume on our Sonos speaker all the way up to get maximum effect. In between reciting all the lines, which no doubt drove them crazy (I just can't help myself), I kept apologizing that they weren't getting the full cinematic experience by seeing it at home on the small screen (which I feel is true of all movies, but this one especially). Garin and Miles didn't make it to the screening party due to some minor behavior infractions during the day that put them in their time-out chairs for the evening. I am not sure if Catherine or Graham liked the movie (I hope they did), but it didn't matter. I was so thrilled to be seeing it again that I was blissfully ignorant, oblivious to anything outside my Top Gun bubble.
Sunday finally arrived, the day I have been awaiting for 36 years. I had tickets for the 3:45 show. I could hardly wait. For those of you who didn't rush out to see it opening weekend (which is unfathomable to me), you'll be pleased to know that Top Gun Maverick did not disappoint. Like the original, it checked all the boxes. Cute guys (and lots of them), the same cute guys, shirtless on the beach again (even Tom went shirtless), romance (Tom and Jennifer were a compelling couple), great music (as in the original movie, this one opened with Danger Zone playing while the jets took off from the flight deck - perfection), and edge-of-your-seat aviation scenes with the same cute guys in their flight suits and helmets emblazoned with their cool call signs. Jon Hamm, (yet another guy I would never tire of looking at) was a great addition to the sequel as Vice Admiral Beau “Cyclone” Simpson. There were a lot of references to the original film, which made it not only nostalgic, but fun. Some of the iconic Top Gun lines made a much-welcomed reappearance. Cinematography has come a long way since 1986 so the aviation scenes were even better than the original film (although looking back, Tony Scott did a bang up job for the time). Tom Cruise still has it as Maverick and that's really all that mattered to me. I loved Maverick then and I love him now.
No doubt, I will see Top Gun Maverick many more times in the coming months and years. I have already promised to take the kids, perhaps next weekend. That said, I think the original will always pull at my heartstrings. It is filled with nostalgia for me. I would venture a guess that Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, AKA Tom Cruise, feels the same.
Although the weekend centered around Top Gun, we did manage to squeeze in some other activities over the long weekend. On Saturday, we went to visit Granny and Great Granny at the cemetery and decorated their graves for the holiday. Catherine showed off her latest aspiration to Granny, as a contortionist. I suspect that Granny looked on in disbelief while the rest of us laughed. After our visit, we headed to Huntington Gardens to walk around, relax, and enjoy the beautiful, cool day. We ended our day at our favorite Pasadena haunt, Green Street Cafe.
On Monday morning, I took the kids to the Ronald Reagan Library for a rather early morning Memorial Day Commemoration. The sky was crystal clear, with a light breeze. It could not have been lovelier. We listened to a wonderful performance of all the American classics by the LA County Sheriff’s Department Concert Band, while the flag billowed in the breeze over our heads. Lieutenant Colonel Steve Chealander (Ret), former Military Aide to President Reagan, gave the keynote address which was very poignant, given the events of last week. For me, it is important for the kids to remember the meaning of this day, rather than just to view it as another day off from school.
Ilia returned in the early evening, as he does every weekend, and joined us for a traditional Memorial Day feast. We had hot dogs, watermelon, chips, macaroni salad, and festively decorated cupcakes for dessert.