Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Cruising toward box-office disaster?

This may be one of the worst ideas for a sequel since Rocky Balboa: apparently some Hollywood suits have been drinking the bongwater and tripping back to the Ronald Reagan/Gordon Gekko era, when Top Gun reflected the cultural zeitgeist. According to IMDb, Tom Cruise "has been asked to reprise his role as cocky fighter-pilot Maverick, 22 years after the first film. A source tells British newspaper The Sun, 'The idea is [that] Maverick is at the Top Gun school as an instructor - and this time it is he who has to deal with a cocky new female pilot.'"

The key word in all that would appear to be "cocky" — as in, a lot of really stupid men think that a lot of really stupid men will want to watch a movie about some really stupid men. But wait: they seem to understand that the culture has changed around them, because this time it'll be a female pilot who'll "feel the need... the need for speed!"

(Excuse us while WB throws up a little.)

Okay, we're back. Now let's think: a Top Gun sequel could actually go in one of two ways. It could tap into the strong Support-Our-Troops sentiment that — rightly so — has been nourished since the first Desert Storm, the basic "hate the sin but love the sinner" ideology that even the most strident out-of-Iraq-now protesters have no problem subscribing to. In this scenario, viewers young and old would flock to the TG sequel because it'd present them with the same feel-good "your United States Military kicks ass" message that got imprinted on mulleted, synth-pop-listening audiences in the mid-1980s.* Not to mention that Tom Cruise is still a huge star whose recruiting efforts for Scientology have been treated with deep respect and reverence on the interwebs.

In an alternate scenario, unless the filmmakers somehow find a way to wrangle the script so that the "cocky female pilot" is Jessica Alba, and that she must be completely nude in every scene, a TG sequel will crash and burn as spectacularly as the enemy fighter jets did in the original. The late 2010s are not 1986, George W. is not Ronald Reagan, Iraq is not Grenada, forced redeployments to the scorching desert are not voluntary deployments to sunny California, and Tom Cuise the couch-jumping, cackling, anti-medication, mystical mumbo-jumbo sputtering fool is not Tom Cruise the hot young actor from Risky Business.

But other than those minor differences, WB is highly confident that a Top Gun sequel could do boffo box office. After all, nearly 20% of Americans still admire the real-life Maverick:


* (Sing along now: Highway to the danger zone....)

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