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Movies you missed: 'Top Gun'


And now it's time for Movies You Missed.


HUMPHREY BOGART: (As Rick Blaine) Here's looking at you, kid.


CLARK GABLE: (As Rhett Butler) Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.


MARLON BRANDO: (As Terry Mallow) I could have been a contender.


BETTE DAVIS: (As Margo Channing) Fasten your seatbelts.


TOM CRUISE: (As Jerry Maguire) Show me the money.


ROBERT DE NIRO: (As Travis Bickle) You talking to me?


ESTELLE REINER: (As Older Woman Customer) I'll have what she's having.


OPRAH WINFREY: (As Sofia) I ain't never thought I'd have to fight in my own house.


BRANDO: (As Stanley Kowalski) Stella.

SIMON: This week - Tom Cruise, fighter pilots, beach volleyball - vroom, vroom, vroom.


KENNY LOGGINS: (Singing) Highway to the danger zone.


CRUISE: (As Maverick) I feel the need...

TOM CRUISE AND ANTHONY EDWARDS: (As Maverick and Goose) ...The need for speed.

SIMON: "Top Gun," the 1986 film directed by Tony Scott, with Tom Cruise alongside Kelly McGillis, Anthony Edwards and Val Kilmer as U.S. Navy pilots in a training academy. A long-awaited sequel has just premiered at Cannes to take advantage of the persisting popularity of a film that everybody has seen, except Melissa Kuypers, manager of operations at NPR West in Culver City, Calif., who joins us now. Melissa, thanks so much for being with us.

MELISSA KUYPERS, BYLINE: I'm happy to be here.

SIMON: Well, you watched the movie this week. We will get to that in a moment. But first, how did you ever miss this film?

KUYPERS: Well, I was a little bit young when it came out. I think I was 8 or 9. We also lived way out in the country, so there were not a bunch of movie theaters around. I don't know. It just kind of passed me by.

SIMON: OK. You watched the movie. Tell us about some of your favorite scenes.

KUYPERS: I mean, it's a pretty fun movie, right? There are lots of scrambling around in the sky in these big, cool fighter jets...

SIMON: (Imitating airplane sounds) Sorry. (Imitating airplane sounds). What did you think of that?

KUYPERS: What was that? (laughter).

SIMON: That was the sound of airplanes in the sky. I thought I was doing it pretty well.

KUYPERS: Oh, yeah. No, that was really good.

SIMON: Thank you.

KUYPERS: (Laughter) So, yeah, it's really fun. There's lots of talk of bogeys and people being on sixes. And I also really enjoyed all the scenes - and this movie delivered many of them - where it was sort of like a commanding officer giving a good dressing-down that starts with, that was stupid and dangerous, and how dare you? And, by gosh, you're the best pilot I've ever seen.

SIMON: (Laughter) The flying scenes are extraordinary. And, you know, they're not CGI, right? These are actual airplanes.

KUYPERS: Yeah. This movie also - this is going to sound silly. This movie really looks like an '80s movie. You know, it's nice and saturated. It's got the great clothes, the great sunglasses, the great mustaches - all of it.

SIMON: What did you make of the human content, though?

KUYPERS: You know, I feel like a lot of the exposition was sort of a little bit clunky. We get these allusions that Maverick's dad was a big-deal guy, but we don't really learn what for a while. The romantic chemistry was just kind of nonexistent.


CRUISE: (As Maverick) If I reversed on a hard cross, I could immediately go to guns on them.

KELLY MCGILLIS: (As Charlie) Yeah, but at that speed, it's too fast. It's a little bit too aggressive.

CRUISE: (As Maverick) Too aggressive. Yeah, I guess when I see something, I go right after it.

KUYPERS: The shots of Tom Cruise sort of emoting were not great. You know, I felt like we just kind of had to get through those to get back to the good fun in the sky and the dressings-down. So yeah.

SIMON: Is the romance to you more palpable between Maverick and the flight instructor - Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis - or Maverick and Iceman, Val Kilmer?


CRUISE: (As Maverick) What's your problem, Kazanski?

VAL KILMER: (As Ice) You're everyone's problem. That's because every time you go up in the air, you're unsafe. I don't like you because you're dangerous.

CRUISE: (As Maverick) That's right, Iceman. I am dangerous.

KUYPERS: Yeah. Oh, I mean, I think this is a pretty classic love triangle almost, right? Like, I feel like Goose and Maverick have pretty good chemistry. I mean, Goose wants nothing more than to impress Maverick and, you know, kind of talk him up. And then meanwhile, Iceman - Val Kilmer - and Maverick have this tension. Who's going to be the top gun? But the number of meaningful glances exchanged between the two of them and the tension was just like - that's where you could really feel it.

SIMON: Going to see the sequel? As we mentioned, it's out now.

KUYPERS: You know, I don't know. I guess I'd see it, see if they do anything different with it - I mean, make it more of a contemporary film. This movie certainly was not ahead of its time. You know, there's a lot of that sort of casual problematic stuff in there. And I don't know. I'd be curious to see if they make a more enlightened version of "Top Gun," I guess - like, you know, maybe lacking the sort of casual misogyny and homophobia and, you know, address the mental health stuff. I think that was a big thing for me, too, is when - I won't give any spoilers, but when the bad thing happens, everyone kind of wants Maverick to get over it immediately. And I'm like, you know, even for an '80s movie, this seems like an astonishing lack of mental health awareness here.

SIMON: I think it's wonderful that you want to avoid spoilers in a film that's more than 30 years old.


KUYPERS: I mean...

SIMON: It's become a cliche in the lives of so many people. You know...

KUYPERS: I was surprised by it, so...

SIMON: Melissa Kuypers, manager of operations at NPR West, thanks so much for flying with us today.

KUYPERS: Hey, anytime, Scooter.

SIMON: You're my wingperson. If there's a movie you've missed, you can tell us all about it. Your line is, no, you're my wingperson.

KUYPERS: (Laughter) I didn't want to step on you.

SIMON: If there's a movie you missed, you can tell us all about it at n.pr/moviesyoumissed.


BERLIN: (Singing) Take my breath away. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.