Confession time: I’ve never seen TOP GUN. At least, I’ve never sat and watched it start to finish. And unlike DIE HARD, which I’ve also never sat and watched start to finish, I’ve also never seen the entire movie just in different chunks or sequences at various times throughout my life. So, for the most part, I have just vague notions of what it’s all about.
Risky Navy fighter plane training. Tom Cruise plays Tom Cruise, but in a Navy fighter plane combat training program. Something like that. If the plot of HOT SHOTS! is close to what the plot of the movie it’s parodying, then I get it, because I saw HOT SHOTS! maybe a dozen times when I was a kid. And, uh, I’ve heard Quentin Tarantino’s breakdown of the film’s supposed subtext (warning: foul language and questionably tasteful content herein).
Before I get to the point of this post, though, here’s that HOT SHOTS! trailer:
Younger readers of this site might not know that there NOT ANOTHER TEEN MOVIE or SCARY MOVIE parody movies have a history that runs back years and years. HOT SHOTS! was from most of the same team that made THE NAKED GUN (a spoof on police movies) who were the team that made AIRPLANE (a spoof of an airplane disaster movie genre that existed for a brief time in the sixties and seventies). You might not find this funny (it is extremely dated, to be sure), but this one was so successful that they made a sequel: HOT SHOTS PART DEUX which was a parody of war movies like RAMBO and, uh, well, mainly just RAMBO.
All of that to setup that TOP GUN represented the zenith of 1980s action movies and one that sort of altered the way movies in general (though, still, specifically action movies) were made for the next 10-15 years. The Simpson/Bruckheimer/Scott collaboration of producer-writer really helped push the music video style of filmmaking to the fore, and TOP GUN was the first movie to really do this. At least, that’s what I’ve read. I haven’t seen the movie start to finish.
One part I have seen is the ridiculous volleyball game that comes at some point in the story (again, I haven’t seen the movie start to finish). Here it is:
When I watch that now I think the decision to make it a competitive volleyball game between super competitive dudes who are enrolled in a life or death training program really makes a lot of sense. Volleyball isn’t a contact sport — it’s not inherently violent — but being successful at it relies on teamwork and the will to make a daring play here or there. It’s a nice contrast to the all the fighter pilot shooting and explosions and planes.
It also looks extraordinarily silly to be that competitive in an off-hours volleyball game. But these guys play to win no matter what the stakes.
The Giants’ recreation proves to be faithful and almost as absurd. Derek Holland, Sam Dyson, Will Smith, and Pat Venditte (!) star as the players in this one:
All this time I thought Sam Dyson was a shy person. That is not the case. He’s the driving force of the piece. From the dog tags to cutting back to an oiled up Derek Holland screaming, the commercial team picked all the right moments to duplicate.
- Pat Venditte does not serve with both hands, and this one was a bummer to note.
- Derek Holland loves cupping therapy.
- Will Smith is all the way left-handed:
- Derek Holland is wearing so much baby oil that when he fell in the sand so much of it wound up sticking to him that it looks like he has a giant back tattoo or birth mark:
- Will Smith is smiling the entire time.
Please watch this and spread the word. The Movie Day at the Park event is July 7th, the day after the McCovey Chronicles meetup (7:05 pm vs. the Cardinals on Saturday, July 6th), an event for which some seats in the special McC group ticket section are still available.