How Top Gun Might Have Saved the Summer

Six jet planes fly across the sky in a triangular formation.

Things have been heavy lately. The news is horrible; if you’re like me, you have cut off a good portion of news for your sanity and self-care. The weather is hot and muggy; delightful June of cool nights and pool days will be a distant memory soon as we head into the dog days of summer. The pandemic has been long and is stretching out still, like a ghost over our heads. Changes have been made to our routines and to our relationships. Every decision right now takes a lot of brain power; inflation makes every dollar count. It’s all exhausting.

Then, bam! Dogfighting jets!

Enter a movie that can basically be described as attractive people flying planes REALLY fast. “Top Gun: Maverick” asks nothing of you, not a single thing. It’s not going to drain you emotionally. it’s not going to talk about politics or the ethics of drone killing or current events, it’s just going to entertain you with shiny machines, sun-screened coated bodies and gorgeous sunsets for two hours. It’s going to romance you with expensive boats and charming dive-bars, cool jackets and a catchy soundtrack playing in your head. And it’s good. It’s so good. Tom Cruise is at his finest; fearless, charming and funny with a million-dollar grin cashing in decades of nostalgia and movie star shine. "So it comes down to a dogfight," he says, with no trace of irony in his eyes. Cue the frantic crunching of popcorn.

There are super-sonic black jets and slow grey jets and super-fast enemy jets. There are mountains to climb, G-forces to weather, old wounds returning – but don’t worry, it will all be tied up with a neat bow by the end. It’s the epitome of a summer blockbuster, and its golden glow fills you up long after you leave the theater. It’s a sheer relief to be able to turn off your brain for two entire hours and just be entertained.

And this, friends, is how “Top Gun” saves summer. It gives us pure entertainment escapism. This summer, I am here for this and only this. I don’t want to watch Oscar winners or documentaries about deep dives into the flawed prison system. My brain and my heart cannot handle that ache right now. It’s not that I’m out of empathy, but I cannot bear the weight of the world in my entertainment as well as out there in the world. My entertainment right now needs to be just that: entertaining, and nothing else.

I need light. I need the semi-brainless fodder of overconfident rookies boosting about their abilities on a sandy beach only to be proved wrong by a hardened instructor. I need mid-air explosions, whooshing jets and Lady Gaga drumbeats. 

Look, we all could use a little “Top Gun” this summer. And once the movie leaves the theater, make sure you to reserve your copy of the DVD or Blu-Ray at an Anythink near you so that you can drink in this entertainment in the comfort of your own home.