WHEN:  2:21pm EST, December 8th, 2012

WHERE: Cinemanaut John‘s room in Portland, ME (Alderaan)

FORMAT: VHS in a Magnavox VCR on a 24” Philips CRT television.

COMPANY: None, though John was watching Runaway Jury in his living room.

PHYSICAL AND MENTAL STATE: Eating seasoned fries and drinking a beer, becoming hatefully nostalgic for the days of VHS.

HOLY HELL: The Top Gun VHS has only one advertisement before the movie, and it’s a Diet Pepsi commercial made out of ’80s.


BECAUSE OF COURSE: That commercial wasn’t enough time for the tracking to kick in all the way, so I had two false starts trying to kill the scribbles before I gave up. They eventually went away during the opening credits. I also had to jiggle the RCA cable halfway through the opening montage when I realized the picture was too dark.

I don’t miss VHS.

If you weren’t aware, Top Gun was filmed open matte. As John has expertly explained in one of his viewings (High Fidelity was shot in the same manner), this means that you actually get more picture from the fullscreen version, not less, because they chopped the top and bottom for the theatrical “the way God intended” release.

Let me demonstrate with this picture of Tom Cruise in Top Gun that I totally made myself.

So, I’m going to be seeing things on the top and bottom of the frame that I never have before. If you’re still confused, ask your kids about it.


  • The 75th Anniversary Paramount logo opens this version instead of the classic. It’s like a whole different movie!
  • Yeah, much like John’s viewing, it is weird seeing so much extra screen.
  • FUCK! Cougar’s helmet has big creepy eyes on it! I never knew that before. Holy shit! Holy shit.

Why is the music just people chanting in Latin all of a sudden?

  • At this point in the year, having watched this 48 times prior, I know every line of dialogue before it happens. It’s freaky.
  • I really like the bassline in “Danger Zone.” The rest of the song can go fuck itself.
  • I can see way more pilots being drunk douchebags in the “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” scene.
  • I audibly groaned at Maverick laughing at his own real smooth joke. Dating fucking sucks, guys.
  • I started twirling my pen while watching. Damn, I am suggestible. That Val Kilmer is a hypnotist.
  • I prefer the aerial scenes open matte. Really. All that extra sky makes it more epic.
  • Open matte means more Tom Skerritt arm hair.
  • I like the bassline on “Playing With the Boys” too. Is the bass up on John’s TV? I may also be more aware of basslines since reading How to DJ Right.
  • Whoa, you can see way more of Goose’s ugly shorts during the volleyball scene.

I like the bassline on those shorts.

  • Being able to see Kelly McGillis’s feet during the sex scene made me laugh. I’m not sure why. They aren’t particularly funny feet.
  • Agh! While Maverick is looking at the picture of his dead father… faceful of man-crotch. It completely changed the tone of the scene for me.

Don’t act like your favorite emotional movie moments wouldn’t be radically altered by sweatpants penis.

  • Is Tom Cruise left-handed? Did he pitch the dog tags into the ocean with his left hand? Or was he just holding them in his left hand? Silhouette, brain fart, whatever. I’ll check next viewing. Wait, there’s a website for this sort of thing?

Watch. Movies. Widescreen.

This wasn’t so much an eye-opening Top Gun viewing as an all-around mindblower when it comes to the general experience of movies. While open matte certainly looks better than pan-and-scan fullscreen, seeing a movie I’ve watched “correctly” for over 48 weeks in a row suddenly just look “off” is a terror of uncanny valley proportions.

Kid looks fine to me– WAIT.

While I only have three more Top Gun viewings to go, I’m going to know that those Cougar eyes are hiding up there. I’ll always know it. I can’t unknow it.