So, none of us have listened to the commentary on any of our movies, and with good reason; High Fidelity doesn’t have one.
Leaving the world to merely wonder what sort of tangential paths Black and Cusack might head down.
Well, we didn’t want to leave poor John out, so we waited until the Blu-Ray release of High Fidelity, which just happened. Guess what? Still no commentary. As a matter of fact, John says there is actually one DVD special feature missing. I’ll leave it to him to tell you what got the boot. My money’s on INTERACTIVE MENUS!
Anyway, reassured that this thing will never get people talking over it, Ty and I are moving ahead full steam. To the Top Gun commentary!
[Note: After much conversation and blood sacrifice, we have deduced that commentary does not count as a viewing. Nor will Rifftrax or playing Dark Side of the Moon over it. Argue in the comments.]
WHEN: 10:24pm EST, August 14th, 2012
WHERE: My apartment in Portland, ME (Isla Nublar)
FORMAT: Blu-Ray on a Vizio 32″ LED HDTV
COMPANY: None. Who the hell watches commentary in a group?
THE VOICES: Producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Director Tony Scott, Co-screenwriter Jack Epps, Jr., Captain Mike Galpin, Technical Advisor Pete Pettigrew, and Vice Admiral Mike McCabe
- Tony Scott is eccentrically British.
- Wow, Tony Scott’s original pitch was Apocalypse Now on an aircraft carrier. The studio said no. He came back with “pilots as rock ‘n’ roll stars?” That makes so much sense as the pitch for this.
- Scott was “fired” by the studio thrice for 1) shooting the opening in slow motion like an arthouse film, 2) whoring up Kelly McGillis, and 3) wanting all the actors’ visors down. Like they should be. Thank you, Mr. Scott.
- Jerry Bruckheimer comes in to tell us shit we already know. He goes on a huge rant about the history of the TOPGUN program; it is identical to what Jester tells us later in the film. Has he seen this?
- “This is Star Wars on Earth.” This entire commentary is going to be everything I’ve been saying for weeks, isn’t it?
- One of the earliest pitches set Top Gun during the founding of the Fighter Weapons School. That could have been neat. I’d watch The Young Viper Chronicles.
- If Tony Scott mentions The Hunger one more time, I’m going to slap him. And by “slap him,” I mean “watch it.”
- Mike “Flex” Galpin, Peter “Viper” Pettigrew, and Mike “Wizard” McCabe all drop in simultaneously, then say absolutely nothing.
- One of the pilots gets into the psychology of flying a jet. You have to always believe that you are the best. If you don’t, it’s not going to work out. Turn in your wings. Sorry, Cougar.
- Tony Scott sees casting like a color wheel. That sounds like a director thing to say. Val Kilmer was cast as a contrasting color to Tom Cruise, who was the only name attached to the movie from the beginning. No Cruise, no Top Gun. *firing up time machine*
- THERE IS NO TOPGUN TROPHY. This blew my mind. They added it just to ramp up the tension, which, as I pointed out, does not make it interesting at all. “If there were a TOPGUN trophy, probably, these guys are so competitive that they’d probably kill each other before the end of graduation.” Yeah, isn’t that what Iceman is doing right before Goose dies?
“It’s how you play the game, my ass.”
- The pilots are talking way too much about hitting the bars in their youth. One of them says the bar was “the place to come.” Like, literally, the students would head there to fuck. The ladies would line up knowing the pilots were in town. This… this is awesome? I can’t tell. Also, the Righteous Brothers scene is a bit too touching to be real; when they were in TOPGUN, they would do group singalongs by changing the words of Ramones songs to something dirty. Fun times, fellas.
- It costs $10,000 for an hour’s worth of fuel in an F-14.
- Holy shit. The pilots point out that a piece of the F-14 falls off when Maverick hits the brakes during the first hop. Never saw it before, will always see it the rest of the year.
- Jack Epps, Jr. admits that there are no showers at TOPGUN, but “there’s a lot that can be said in a locker room that can’t be said anyplace else.” Our first hint at subtext? Probably not. More likely he’s talking about exposition.
- I love when directors realize that they’re forgetting people when they dish out the compliments. “Anthony Edwards has a great… quality…” Sure does, Tony Scott. Sure does.
- Tony Scott is complimented for cutting down the personalities of each pilot. I honestly have no idea how this is a compliment.
- Tom Cruise’s smile is described by Tony Scott as infamous and filled with sexuality and charm.
- The fans. They’re seriously talking about all the fans mounted on the walls, and how they were just so right for a movie about rock ‘n’ roll stars of the sky. Guys, what do directors do all day?
- “Hunky bodies and California sun.” This is how Tony Scott describes the volleyball scene. It’s for the ladies and “the San Francisco guys.” It’s “gay,” Tony. You can say it. People have heard of it.
- Okay. We’re getting into the gay now. Scott based the look of Maverick and Iceman off of a Bruce Weber book of black-and-white photos of military men that was very popular with the gay community. Specifically, the haircuts. Apparently the studio was not happy about this, because, you know, gay people. I’m going to try to find this book.
- Jim Cash absolutely hates flying and is most famous for writing a movie about planes. I dunno, when I think Jim Cash, I think The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas.
And 32% of that script was just the word “rock.”
- The TACTS trailer scene was in a real TACTS trailer. Amazing.
- They’ve been talking about the music for a long time. Harold Faltermeyer is brilliant and such. All the songs were meticulously designed by Giorgio Moroder to get stuck in your head. What an honor it is to have Jessica Simpson cover “Take My Breath Away.” Wait, seriously?
- Tony Scott claims that, when shooting a love scene, the strength of the sexuality is actually in the chase “before the nasties.” I feel like I’ve seen into Tony Scott’s mind and I can’t look back. So if Charlie chased Maverick across, say, a minefield, that would make up for a really shitty sex scene?
- The pilots laugh their asses off about how frequently masks aren’t worn. Nobody should be putting a mask on when they spot an enemy. They don’t have time. I am so very okay with this. I wish this commentary was two hours of pilots saying, “Fuck you.”
- “Meg Ryan takes a very small role and just blows it up.” I can agree with that. She’s a spitfire.
- The pilots are picking on Iceman for not being able to get the shot during the dead Goose hop. They claim he is about five times closer than you need to be to get a clean shot.
- They’re talking about the death of Art Scholl, the aerial cameraman who died while filming Top Gun, over the death of Goose. I don’t know how to feel about this and I think they should have discussed it ahead of time.
- Apparently Goose’s death scene was based on a real incident, except both pilots ejected safely. I wonder how they feel when they watch that scene. Especially the RIO.
- “This was not a plot movie.” I appreciate your honesty? They’re very proud of it as an “emotional” movie, because this is something that pilots really have to deal with. Even they admit that it has a fun half and a sad half. Is that good? Should I be able to see the seams where it’s stitched together?
- Okay, you don’t do this much talking about the writing if you’re proud of it. They are straight-up trying to defend their shitty screenplay because they know it sucks.
- Somebody mentions that the motto on the set was: “Make this movie worth dying for.” Everybody makes a “whoa, man” noise all at once, probably because somebody actually died.
Arthur Everett Scholl, December 1931 – September 1985
- Somebody (I believe one of the pilots) mentions that he’s seen Top Gun thousands of times and wants to know if it’s symbolic that Maverick wears more black after Goose dies. The answer he gets: “I wasn’t the costume designer.”
- Viper’s wall of photos is referred to as the “I Love Me Wall.” I will be calling it that for the rest of 2012.
- Okay, I love when the pilots laugh because I know they’re about to tell me something else that the movie fucked up. When Maverick goes plane-watching on his motorcycle, a jet is landing on the airfield with its tailhook down, something you only do on an aircraft carrier.
- Apparently, you would never be physically handed a mission. You would be asked to meet back at the base, then you would learn your assignment. And the “24 hours later” caption is described as “magic.”
- Hahaha, the pilots become aware of how much they’re ripping on the movie and one of them, in an awkward silence, shyly blurts out, “The mission is fairly realistic…” More silence.
- One of the studio notes was “too much flying.” ‘Nuff said.
- Dogfights rarely last as long as the one at the end of the film.
- The pilots say this movie doesn’t stress how difficult it is to make decisions in the air. If it’s hard to follow five planes in the movie, it’s even harder in the cockpit. In most dogfights, every plane looks like a speck, so you really have to hope you’re shooting at the enemy.
- To simulate an engine burning out, the stunt pilots just dumped some fuel. Neat.
- Tony Scott seriously needs to stop saying “rock ‘n’ roll.” Especially as an adjective. I’m waiting for him to say that craft services were very rock ‘n’ roll. Just a very rock ‘n’ roll sensibility.
- Flybys absolutely happen all the time. I lose a point for asking what sort of idiot pilot would buzz the tower, because it turns out, all the idiot pilots. One of them tells the story of how he did it after a conflict, low on fuel, during a thunderstorm. Then he chuckles about what a bad idea that was. He chuckles.
- In the last few minutes, everybody congratulates everybody else on getting Navy recruitment numbers up. Which this movie absolutely did.
- The pilots talk about how proud they are to have been TOPGUN instructors and to help consult on this movie. Tony Scott lists off all the shit he bought once the movie was a hit. No, seriously. It’s almost the last thing said on the entire commentary before he throws in the obligatory, “Hope you enjoyed it.”
“It’s all about the fans.”
There are exactly two flavors of commentary: fun and informative. I give this commentary a fairly good score for being informative, but it isn’t terribly fun. However, they get high marks for it not being a jumbled disaster of six people talking over each other. I suspect that they recorded a few separate sessions and pieced them together, which sometimes feels like cheating, but it’s better than half a dozen mouths competing for the volume trophy.
Somebody is lacking from this recording, and I think I know why. If Gary Busey recorded a commentary track for The Buddy Holly Story, would it honestly make any sense? Under that logic, I think that’s why Mr. Cruise didn’t show up.
That or he was busy making a million fucking dollars for essentially being named Tom Cruise.
So close, Hoveround guy.