Happy birthday, Tom Cruise. Big 6-0 this July 3. I can’t believe we made it.
Yes, Tom Cruise, “we” made it. Many of us have been going along for the ride since making the mind-boggling decision to bring the second chapter of “Top Gun” on screen 36 years after the original 1986
darlingSequels to movies can be treacherous. We all want to recapture that thrill of the original, and, if you really think about it, recapture that moment in our lives. But over and over again, it just isn’t possible to capture the same lightning in a sequel’s bottle.
Even more terrifying, of course, was the 36 years later part. For those of us who were very much alive in 1986, it was an awe-inspiring reminder that we are all dangerously four decades old.
‘Let’s Light the Fire’:Tom Cruise arrived by helicopter for the world premiere of ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ The
“Top Gun: Maverick” was personal. Tom Cruise needed to prevail not just for the legacy of “Top Gun” or Goose or A-list movie star viability. But for us, for me. “Maverick” had to prove that 36 years is not a big deal, that it is a number, and that whatever we tell ourselves about getting older. And Cruz was leading the charge.
Sure enough, that first “Maverick” trailer dropped and Cruise’s Pete “Maverick” Mitchell looked like he walked the Kawasaki ninja straight out of the Reagan administration, his hair blowing and big teeth gleaming.
I looked closely at the hair. I was on the red carpet for the premiere of the film aboard the USS Midway aircraft carrier in San Diego in June. The only thing that overtook Cruise’s showboat helicopter entrance was the luxurious hair — totally gray and bouncy. It was indomitable enough to look like a victorious high school quarterback who pulled over after the shower for the homecoming dance.
To the relief of my existence, “Maverick” blasted through its “danger zone” takeoff and aborted the landing. It’s a totally worthy “Top Gun” follow-up, maybe even a better movie than the original. and Cruz represented. He took off his shirt and played dogfight football with his decades-younger co-stars who didn’t have washboard abs at the “Top Gun” volleyball game. But there were abs. And in danger, he looked good, especially turbo-sprinting down the beach at the end. In blue jeans. Praise.
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I asked Cruise how he prepares for that scene, and he shut it down, “I just did,” he said in his study. Said with carelessness. Good. I usually reserve that line to explain how I ate all the donuts.
Onscreen, Maverick has lived the life none of us can live in those 36 years. Not only is he patting his nose at his bosses whilebuzzing down the Bleeping Tower at Jon Hamm’s Vice Admiral Beau “Cyclone” Simpson, Riding supersonic jets, Cyclone still gives that “I respect you” ending, before Maverick leaves to smooch sunset with Jennifer Connelly. You go, Maverick! He doesn’t care about car payments, mortgages, or inflation. He just flies.
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Here on Earth, I hum comically every time I stand up after any exercise I smile and risk screams of anguish when my shoulder is just locks. I turned 55 in April, and happened to be in a Ross dress for less, which is hard enough to admit. Turns out Ross has a pretty generous senior discount for his Every Tuesday club, which, to my horror, I suddenly deserved. 10% off ceramic planters (total savings: $2) won’t tear. But, gossip. This was my first senior discount.
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I calm myself using my inner maverick. I’m sure Tom Cruise knows how to slow down, maybe even stop time. He’s already back on the job performing unimaginable movie heroes juggles in “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning” Parts I (July 14, 2023) and 2 (June 28, 2024).
So I shout out to you Tom Cruise: to 60 and beyond! Ride forever, ripping the wind out of your hair.
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