' ' Cinema Romantico: Do I Really Feel The Need For More Speed?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Do I Really Feel The Need For More Speed?

My first time in California was in the form of a road trip with my pal Jed when he and I were wasting away in Phoenix. It was late Saturday night, or, more accurately, early Sunday morning, and - with no hotel on our docket - somehow we found ourselves cruising through Miramar, California in my Tenacious Tempo. Miramar, California, for those whose who don't know what someone's talking about when they intimate "Your body's writing checks your ego can't cash", is also known as Fightertown U.S.A, or the primary location of 1986's box office champ and pop culture phenomenon - "Top Gun." Naturally Jed and I began discussing what our make believe call signs were when we played "Top Gun" as 9 year old kids. His was Long Beach. Mine was New York. The point here is not that both our call signs were cities nor that both our call signs were kinda lame but that WE BOTH HAD MAKE BELIEVE CALL SIGNS WHEN WE PLAYED "TOP GUN." Which is to say there was a very significant hold "Top Gun" held over young males who came of age in the 80's.

We are people who lament cable channels excising the Volleyball Scene (woe is all of us) and author lengthy treatises on "Top Gun" characters who didn't even earn one word of dialogue and know exactly what the words "Rick Rossovich" and "The Pose" mean and when dragged into utterly idiotic and inept efforts to woo striking young co-eds at U of I's Daum Hall say over and over, drunkenly, "I'm not leaving my wingman" (as my best friend said over and over, drunkenly, to me circa 1996 in my utterly idiotic and inept effort to woo a striking young co-ed at U of I's Daum Hall).

"Top Gun" inspired one of Quentin Tarantino's most memorable monologues and it took Berlin to the top of the charts and briefly turned Kelly McGillis into the Brigitte Bardot Of The 80's (what?). It turned Ray-Ban Aviator Sunglasses into the hottest of commodities and caused the number of men joining the Navy who wanted to be aviators to go "up by 500 percent." It introduced us, for all practical purposes, to Meg Ryan and Tim Robbins and meant that not everyone would remember James Tolkan solely for being Principal Strickland. It truly put Tom Cruise on the map and, thus, on the road to crazy-town and it established the awesome meta-ness of Val Kilmer (consider the brief scene in which he fiddles with his wristwatch before confronting Maverick about "showboating with this MiG - who else but Val Kilmer would have fiddled with his wristwatch in that scene?!) and it launched Jerry Bruckheimer toward global box office domination.

This is not to suggest that "Top Gun" is some sort of masterpiece because, well, it isn't - not even close - but that is not the point. The point is that "Top Gun" is freaking "Top Gun." And now, of course, it seems they are going to remake it (thus, drawing us one step closer to the "From Here To Eternity" remake with Jessica Simpson). And I find this strange.

I find this strange because part of me, the part of me that has developed into a proud cinematic snob, really could not care less if they remake "Top Gun." But there is another part of me, the part of me that as a nine year old gave himself a call sign and in high school speech competition tried to convince people it would be a fine idea to use "Top Gun's" famed locker room scene as material ("That's right, Ice...Man, I am dangerous"), that weeps inwardly at the thought of a "Top Gun" remake. So what to do? What to say? Okay, how about this? Go ahead. Remake "Top Gun."

But remember, boys, no points for second place.

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