1986 was a amazing year in film - 'Aliens', 'Crocodile Dundee', 'Ferris Bueller’s Day Off', 'Big Trouble in Little China', 'Stand By Me', 'The Fly', 'Labyrinth', 'The Golden Child', 'Short Circuit'... *gasps for air* I could go on, however if you don’t know any or all of these films then just stop reading now, I want nothing more to do with you. Or you could use it as a starting guide to your education -or “movication”, if you will. But first and foremost, you have to begin with ‘Top Gun'; not only was it the highest-grossing film of the year, but the most enduring in terms of its cast, soundtrack, cult status and all-round awesomeness.
Jump in my time machine with me as we travel back 30 years. The year was 1986. A 24-year-old Tom Cruise had only been in the business for five years, but already a household name thanks to films like ‘The Outsiders’ and ‘Risky Business’, released just three years earlier. Über-producer Jerry Bruckheimer hadn’t quite earned the “über” yet but he was well on his way with hits like ‘Beverly Hills Cop’, ‘American Gigolo’ and ‘Flashdance’. ‘Top Gun’ marked director Tony Scott’s third feature film and put him on the map, turning him into a favourite and sought-after filmmaker until his death in 2012. It was Bruckheimer who championed the making of ‘Top Gun’ after being inspired by an article written just three years earlier about the Navy fly-boys at a school in Miramar, San Diego. As extensive research and development went on, the film obviously became unrecognisable from its original draft, and the whole thing opened wide up once the Navy came onboard, serving as technical advisors, allowing the screenwriters access to the real Top Gun school, observing flights and missions - and once production was underway, the crew were allowed to film real dogfights etc at considerable cost to the production (#worthit).
Upon release, ‘Top Gun’ broke box office and home box office records, and its success filtered down with Navy recruitment spikes as well as bomber jacket and Ray Ban sales experiencing 40% increases. The film’s famous soundtrack featuring not one, but two Kenny Loggins foot-tappers - ‘Danger Zone’ and ‘Playing with the Boys’ -experienced chart-topping platinum sales, while Berlin’s ‘Take My Breath Away’ took home the Oscar at the following year’s ceremony. And let’s not forget that scene where the boys sing ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling’. The Righteous Brothers classic may not have featured on the original printing of the soundtrack, but it didn’t stop the decades of countless bar room imitations, nor the invitation into thousands of women's fantasies.
They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery - well then, ‘Top Gun’ couldn’t receive a higher accolade than a spoof. In 1991 Maverick, Goose and Iceman all got the roasting they deserved with the release of ‘Hot Shots!’ thanks to spoof-master Jim Abrahams. A pre-tiger blood Charlie Sheen was gifted with the lead role of Topper Harley, and the rest is history. In a bittersweet turn, ‘Hot Shots!’ surpassed ‘Top Gun’ by succeeding where ‘Top Gun’ couldn’t, and produced a sequel in 1993 - only this time their target was ‘Rambo’.
Now for the Where Are They Now: we all know what happened to Tom Cruise; blah blah blah Nicole Kidman, blah blah blah Mission Impossible...s, blah blah blah he showed us some money, blah blah blah couch jumping, blah blah blah Scientology, blah blah blah HE’S THE BIGGEST FREAKING MOVIE STAR ON THE PLANET! Love him or hate him as a man, there’s no denying his talent and charisma and his ability to sell a movie ticket, even in this download/torrent happy viewing world.
Anthony Edwards, AKA Goose. Not only was he the ONLY guy in “that volleyball scene” to wear a shirt, Edwards didn’t exactly rock Hollywood pre- or post-‘Top Gun’... until he found TV success playing the much beloved Dr Mark Greene for over a decade on ‘ER’ alongside George Clooney. He can still be spotted from time to time on the small screen in shows such as ‘Billions’ and even an episode of ‘Girls’.
‘Top Gun' was not only the highest-grossing film of the year, but the most enduring in terms of its cast, soundtrack, cult status and all-round awesomeness.
Val Kilmer in now fat. Kelly McGillis turned out to be gay and they both reunited for the 1999 flop ‘At First Sight’.
Meg Ryan - yes, Meg Ryan! I bet you all forgot she was in this ,didn’t you? Meg was a 25-year-old soap opera and TV darling before striking it big with ‘Top Gun’. The blonde beauty caught many an eye with her small yet lovable role as Goose’s wife and Maverick’s biggest fan uttering that adorable line, “Goose ya big stud, take me to bed now or lose me forever!” Meg, of course, went on to have a huge movie career, becoming America’s sweetheart, a famous love life and an infamous face. While not much of her is seen these days, if she could just stop injecting, poking and prodding that beautiful face of hers, I’m sure we’d all welcome her back with open arms.
Tony Scott may be considered the lesser of the two “Scotts”, but he still knew how to turn out a damn entertaining action thriller like ‘Enemy of the State’ and ‘Man on Fire’. After years in the director’s chair, Tony’s talents and success spread to producing, becoming highly prolific in that area, specifically in television, before his sudden death in 2012 at the age of 68.
Jerry Bruckheimer is a television and film producing man-whore, sticking his fingers in everything from ‘CSI’ to ‘The Amazing Race’ to ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ and even ‘Confessions of a Shopaholic’ and ‘Coyote Ugly’. Basically Jerry is the source of all your biggest dreams and worst nightmares coming to life. He makes the movies that you love to hate and hate to love. At almost 73 years young he’s exhibiting no signs of slowing down with a mass of 2, 3, 4 even 6 sequels being credited to his name for all his biggest hits in the coming years, including a ‘Top Gun 2’. One can only hope... none of it is true.
So as the 16th of May rolls around, marking 30 years since we first felt the need for speed and a compulsive urge to wear bomber jackets, Ray Bans and enlist, one can’t help but reflect on the supreme impact ‘Top Gun’ has made of the world and its fans. The film constantly ranks on lists of best films, action films, quotes and soundtracks of all time. In 2015 it was selected for the United States Library of Congress’ National Film Registry, sighting it as “cultural, historically or aesthetically significant”. Even the U.S. government thinks ‘Top Gun’ is Boss!