Celia Rivenbark’s weekend humor: Sorry, but ‘Top Gun’ was a terrible movie

In preparation to watch the splashy sequel to the classic “Top Gun,” I decided to rewatch the 1986 original, remembering it as “awesome, one of the best movies I’ve ever seen.”


Clocking in at a shadow over two (very long) hours, the original “Top Gun” was so cheesy that I expect to be constipated for the foreseeable future. Sorry, not sorry.

How could my memory of the greatness of the movie be so wrong? Honestly, didn’t I notice the awkward love scenes, done with the deft touch of a weekend porn producer whose real job was selling funeral insurance? Sorry. Final expenses, I meant.

Rewatching a movie you consider “classic” decades later is bound to result in disappointment. I remember sobbing in theater at the demise of mega-brother “Goose,” played by Anthony Edwards who, inexplicably, was going to land the role of a decidedly nebulous doc on “ER.”

Watching “Top Gun” for the first time in 36 years makes me question everything I believed at the time. Maybe “Take My Breath Away” really wasn’t the greatest romantic ballad of all time. Sigh.

Because the aerial shots were so exciting, a lot was forgiven, including the truly awful, chemistry-less tongue dance performed by Kelly McGillis and Tom Cruise. The Lord has mercy. I expected him to start licking his face like a springer spaniel.

“It’s a beautiful story of romance and adventure,” I told Duh, who has never seen “Top Gun” for some strange reason, but who has never seen “The Godfather” or ” Star Wars” as clearly as he was a wolf-boy or something growing up.

“We can’t see the rest until you see this because you’ll be lost,” I told him, cautiously.

As the end credits happily rolled, Duh looked at me with new eyes. Maybe because he tried to rip out the old ones.

“It was awful,” he said, holding out his hand, not to hold but to receive the remote.

“In 1986, it was state-of-the-art! These special effects were state of the art.

But it was too late. When I recommend a terrible movie, which happens with alarming frequency, I’m placed in a “time out” marital movie. It might take some time to regain trust. Things hadn’t gone so far off the rails since I recommended the second “Sex & the City” movie, which left him humming loudly just 30 minutes later.

The breathtakingly bad script made me wonder what kind of writer I was in 1986. So, I took a look at some old clips from one of my early reporting jobs. On the birth of a mule in a neighboring county, this key phrase: “His mother was a scoundrel and his father was a moron…”

Oh dear.

I have to admit, this isn’t the first time a movie has suffered from a (much) later review. While I loved “Titanic” 25 years ago, I can’t watch it now because I want to strangle that paper-skinned witch when she drops “Heart of the Ocean” into the sea knowing Shell’s conch-sized blue diamond could have ended world hunger. Dotty battle axe.

And don’t get me started on “It’s a Wonderful Life”, which was obviously made before I was born, but was late popularity, didn’t really take off until copyright expires in the 70s, which allowed it to be broadcast for free and often streamed on television.

Decades later, I maintain Pottertown, a boozy Vegas in the making, it was pretty awesome.

To be honest, the only really old movies I can’t find fault with are “Paper Moon” (1973) and “To Kill A Mockingbird” (1962). Let me know the classic you once loved that now makes you go “What are you doing??

Unlike a Saturday night in Bedford Falls, this could be fun.

Celia Rivenbark is a best-selling NYT author and columnist. Write to him at [email protected].