Top Gun: Maverick

I once worked in a small department of six people that was isolated from the rest of a large corporation; because no one could hear us (or find us, for that matter), we played records all day long on an old phonograph with a tinny speaker. Our music selections came from a few boxes of vinyl left over from the 80s that had been donated from someone’s basement. 

We had several favorites—Flashdance, Saturday Night Fever, Oklahoma!—but the one that got played almost every day was the soundtrack from Top Gun. For reasons I can no longer remember, we all took nicknames from the film. I am proud to say that I was Maverick; although I bear absolutely no resemblance to Tom Cruise, I liked to think that I could fly an airplane upside down if I absolutely had to. Also, last person to pick ended up as Goose.

Sitting in the audience for Top Gun: Maverick and hearing those first twangy eight notes of the Top Gun Anthem, I was immediately transported back to a time when toxic masculinity was fun and a skintight white t-shirt was all you needed to make a girl swoon. The original movie wasn’t really that good, but oh, that shirtless volleyball game.

I’ve read a few reviews that have mentioned you don’t need to have seen the original 1986 Top Gun to be able to appreciate the new one, but I disagree. If you’re there for the airplane fight sequences, you’ll enjoy it because they are spectacular; however, how can you understand the complicated relationship between Maverick and Rooster without knowing how Goose died? Or get a lump in your throat when Iceman finally shows up, remembering how cocky he always was?; or recognize the parallels between the sunset football game and the shirtless volleyball on the beach? Or understand that of course Tom Cruise doesn’t wear a helmet when he rides his motorcycle because he wouldn’t be Tom Cruise if he had helmet hair.

This is about as nostalgic a summer movie as there is; completely escapist and fun, filled with beloved characters who have aged far better (or have better plastic surgeons) than we have. Flight sequences are thrilling and inexplicably did not make me nauseous, even though there was a lot of swooping in loops and g-forces contorting faces. 

I should probably note that the Hollywood patriarchy is in full macho mode here, erasing the Kelly Willis and Meg Ryan roles from the original and giving Maverick a new girlfriend and an ethnically ambiguous female pilot; this film would definitely NOT pass the Bechdel test. Also interesting that they never name what country is supposed to be the villain here. It is much more convenient for global film distribution if you’re not offending China or Russia or whoever might have a hidden stash of nuclear weapons. 

But somedays I’m too tired to protest and just want to give in to airplanes and cute boys and popcorn and forgetting that the world is blowing up around us. I know, I know—I’m a bad feminist and Tom Cruise is a Scientologist and I’m a terrible pacifist for supporting this love letter to the military complex. Just give me this two hours and eleven minutes of the skintight white T-shirts and I swear I will do better next time.

The Popcorn Kernels of Truth give this film Three Kernels. I may need to create a new category called GuiltyPleasures.

Categories: FlicksThatYouShouldPick, FlicksIWantToLick

Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Alert the media and empty out the vomitorium, because this review marks the return of the OG flicksthatmakemesick

A long time ago far, far away, this website was created to help those who got nauseated at films that used the hand held shaky cam and other quick cutting techniques. Directors finally calmed down a few years ago, so flicks abandoned its unique premise for the more standard movie review site. Those of us who are afflicted with motion sickness gratefully put down our Barf Bags and headed back to theaters, more worried about the symptoms that might come from the guy coughing behind you than what the film would do to your stomach.

This website is thrilled to be able to honor its origins by telling you that one of the parallel universes in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is the one where movies regularly made you sick! As Stephen Strange and his new partner jump through millions of different times and places, their journey flashes by so quickly that your stomach ends up in the row in front of you. I had eaten some greasy, buttered popcorn, which is a lethal snack when a film goes into edited frenzy. I closed my eyes as quickly as I could, but not before the theater had started to spin and my mouth filled with saliva, which is never a good thing. But my eyes flew open at the dialog when the young woman in the film said “I’m surprised you didn’t puke. Most people do.” And then Benedict Cumberbatch proceeded to barf his guts out on a rooftop somewhere in another version of New York.

I was so stunned by art imitating life that I didn’t pay much attention to the reason they were in the multiverse, because 1) it doesn’t exist and 2) I am sick of it. This is the third movie I have seen in the last three months that ended up jumping around like frogs on acid. I realize there are not a lot of original ideas in Hollywood, but this is starting to feel like the mid 80s when studios spewed out about a dozen or more body switching movies that had all the same plot (starting with the original Freaky Friday in 1976).

I felt this was one of the weaker Dr. Strange films, missing a lot of the humor and angst from the original one and its various sequels. The action sequences went on forever and seemed repetitive. Director Sam Raimi’s influence is evident from an unusual amount of gory, horror-filled moments; my take on this is if you have an actor with cut glass cheekbones like Benedict Cumberbatch, why have him spend half the film as a zombie missing part of his face? And as much as I was a fan of WandaVision, I’m not sure if the Scarlet Witch missing her two fake children was enough of a reason to go psycho on the entire world. 

Marvel keeps churning out these films and I suppose I will keep buying the tickets; but somewhere in a different part of the multiverse, there is version of me who is getting really tired of the same old schtick.

The Popcorn Kernels of Truth give this film Two Kernels. In the ranking of all thirty-four Marvel movies, I would score it above Eternals and Ironman 2, but below AntMan.

New Category: FlicksYouShouldPickOnlyifYouAreaDieHardMarvel Junkie