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'Goodness Gracious, Great Balls of Fire!': Top Gun Sequel Zooms into Theaters

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Top Gun DVD and popcorn

Fire up some popcorn and your DVD player! Embrace your inner fighter pilot and grab your favorite wingman. It's time to enter the Danger Zone! Cue up Kenny Loggins! (Photo courtesy of Lucy Leonard)

If you recognize the phrases “I feel the need…the need…for speed!” or “Talk to me, Goose,” or “Son, your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash,” at some point over the past three decades, you have visited “The Danger Zone” with the best of the best Navy jet fighter pilot, Lieutenant Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. Maybe you watched it in the movie theater, on a VCR, on a portable DVD player, on cable TV, on demand, on a laptop or via a cell phone. 

When Top Gun zoomed into theaters in May 1986, audiences fell in love with Maverick (Tom Cruise), his wingman, Goose (Anthony Edwards), their Top Gun classmates including Mav’s rival competition for the Top Gun Award, Iceman (Val Kilmer).

How could they not?! F-14 jet fighters speeding through air! Buzzing the tower and spilling coffee! Naval officers serenading ladies who Lost that Loving Feeling! Shirtless men playing beach sand volleyball! Tom Cruise’s make-you-melt dimples! It was the perfect formula for Top Gun fever and summer fun. 

Well, climb back into the cockpit and buckle up because the summer of 2022 is promising to be another thrilling ride too. After 36 years, the long-awaited sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, is zooming into theaters Memorial Day weekend and the film is getting reviews as impressive as a negative 4G inverted dive. Even Jimmy Kimmel enjoyed it. “It’s as ‘Top Gunny’ as anyone could pray it would be and more,” he said during an interview with Miles Teller (Rooster, son of Goose).

Top Gun has to be the defining movie of my teen years,” diehard fan and mom, Kathleen Brickley, shared. “The boys wanted to be Pete Mitchell (Tom Cruise), and the girls wanted to date Pete Mitchell!”

Val Kilmer

Val Kilmer starred as jet fighter pilot, Ice Man, Maverick's biggest Top Gun School aviator competition. Val made an appearance at an outdoor screening of Top Gun in 2019, hosted by Alamo Drafthouse's Rolling Roadshow. (Photo courtesy of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema)

When the movie was released, Kathleen’s older brother, Kevin Smith, was a fighter pilot, flying the F-16 for the Air Force. Their mom, Tucker Smith, had a different perspective of the movie. “Mom saw Kevin in every scene of that movie, from the dangerous combat situations to the Officer Club parties to the accident with Goose. She didn’t like it one bit.”

Kathleen continued, “All the girls appreciated the volleyball scene, and speaking for myself, I dreamed of some handsome guy singing me a song as a way of introduction. It was such a thrilling, adrenaline-filled movie.” 

“I still watch the movie any time I find it on TV, and I still enjoy it, but I will never forget that our mom saw something completely different in it than I did!” 

Like Kathleen, I have been a fan since the ’80s.

The majority of Top Gun is set in San Diego, where my sister and her husband, a Navy pilot, lived. When the movie came out, I was staying with them for the summer. I was excited about the movie. My dad, Cmdr. Vic Vine, was also a Navy pilot. My sister and brother-in-law did not live far from Miramar Naval Air Station where the Fighter Pilot School was based. San Diego is a Navy town, so people were definitely fired up and it was a fun time to be there.

If you are a Top Gun fan, an entertaining place to visit near downtown San Diego is the filming location where Goose plays the piano and his wife, Carole (Meg Ryan), their young son, Bradley (Aaron and Adam Weis), Charlie (Kelly McGuinnes) and Maverick are belting out “Goodness Gracious! Great Balls of Fire!” This is where Meg Ryan speaks the infamous line, “Hey Goose, you big stud! Take me to bed or lose me forever!” The restaurant is Kansas City BBQ and fans can visit the piano that is still there.

I may or may not have visited some San Diego Officer’s Club Happy Hours over the years, but it’s classified. I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you. 

I asked my husband Andrew (a fellow ’80s kid) if he knew anyone who had been really into Top Gun when it came out. “Yeah, I know someone. Everyone! Everyone was really into Top Gun.” 

A few days later, I asked Thomas, our home-for-the-summer college kid, if he has any friends excited about Top Gun. At first, he says he can’t really think of anyone, followed by, “The reason I said I can’t really think of a name is because pretty much everyone I know is excited about it and everybody plans to go see it.”

It’s like they’re related or something.

Thomas’ friend overheard my question and enthusiastically added, “I’m super excited about it. I have been a big fan of Top Gun my whole life. Anytime it comes on, my dad and I love watching it together.”

Aviator sunglasses and DVD

Aviator glasses? Check. Dog tags? Check. Beach volleyball? Check. Naval Officer's coffee mug? Check. Buckle up and enjoy the ride. After 34 years, the Top Gun sequel, Maverick, has all of us still saying, "I feel the need. The need for speed!"

This next generation is definitely fired up for Top Gun (and also big fans of the original because with the beauty of technology they can watch it just about anytime. And they don’t even have to worry about remembering to “Be Kind and Rewind!”).
 
Do I think the Top Gun sequel will leave us smiling and fulfilling our need…our need for speed? Yes…yes, indeed! 

And you can quote me on that.

Top Gun: Maverick officially hits theaters Friday, May 27. There will be some special early release screenings around town, Tues., May 24 and Thurs., May 26. Check your local theater. Watch the trailer for Maverick here. Watch the original 1986 trailer here. Discover your official "call sign" here.

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