Top Gun parents guide

Top Gun Parent Review

Overall C+

This top-grossing film of 1986 follows the hotshot pilot Maverick (Tom Cruise) as he trains at the Miramar Naval Air Station. Along with competing for the Top Gun title against other talented flyers (one played by Val Kilmer), he also makes time to flirt with his teacher (Kelly McGillis).

Violence B-
Sexual Content C
Profanity C-
Substance Use C+

Top Gun is rated PG for action sequences, language and some sexual content.

Movie Review

Long before his couch-jumping antics on Oprah, his conversion to Scientology or his marriage and subsequent divorce from Katie Holmes, Tom Cruise played a hotshot pilot with a huge chip on his shoulder. Although the actor debuted in the 1981 movie Endless Love followed by The Outsiders, Risky Business and All the Right Moves, Cruise, who has gone on to become one of Hollywood’s highest paid actors, cemented his status as an up and coming actor in this role as a naval pilot in the 1986 movie Top Gun.

His character, Maverick, recklessly attacks the sky on every flight exercise. Haunted by the negative reports surrounding his father’s death in Vietnam, Maverick pushes the limits of his plane and the patience of his fellow officers while repeatedly defying naval rules and regulations. However after chasing off a handful of MiGs over the Indian Ocean, the young airman and his co pilot Lt. Nick “Goose” Bradshaw (Anthony Edwards) are selected for intense training in Miramar, California. At the Navy’s elite flying school, the pair face off against rival LT Tom “Iceman” Kasansky (Val Kilmer) and a handful of other airmen who are also vying for the honor of Top Gun.

Thrown into the plot is Maverick’s after hours romance with civilian instructor Charlotte “Charlie” Blackwood (Kelly McGillis) that leads to tension in the classroom and some tongue wrestling in the bedroom. While the storyline was never riveting, it seems even cheesier nearly three decades later when big hair and synthesized soundtracks have gone the way of Betamax. But it was likely the flight scenes (by pilots from the F-14 fighter squadron VF-51 Screaming Eagles) and not the ground level story that lured Jerry Bruckheimer into producing a 3D version of the film in hopes of introducing new generations of audiences to this top grossing film of the year.

Rated PG, Top Gun’s sexual material involves passionate silhouetted kissing, implied sexual activity and some brief crude sexual dialogue, along with a battery of profanities. But the real focus is what happens in the air. And it seems that Cruise’s stint as the swaggering lieutenant proved to be advantageous for both him and the film’s makers—even if Maverick’s arrogant attitude isn’t one parents would want reenacted at home.

Directed by Tony Scott. Starring Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, Val Kilmer, Anthony Edwards. Running time: 110 minutes. Updated

Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Top Gun here.

Top Gun Parents Guide

Characters often wear sunglasses inside buildings or darkened rooms in this movie. Why? How are sunglasses used to create an aura of “cool”? Why do you think the number of people wanting to join the navy increased sharply after the release of this movie?

What does the description “larger than life” mean? What characters in this movie fit that descriptor? What are the dangers of working with a person who routinely breaks the rules? Whose lives does Maverick endanger in this movie? How does the story of his father’s death impact this young flyboy? How does it influence his approach to flying?

What characters serve as role models in this story? Why are they important to the young pilots? Why is Cmdr. Mike Metcalf (Tom Skerritt) so insistent that Maverick get back in the air after the accident?

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