Top Gun

Movie review by
Heather Boerner, Common Sense Media
Top Gun Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Exciting Tom Cruise classic has some intense scenes.
  • PG
  • 1986
  • 109 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 19 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 48 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Winning is the most important thing to these characters, though they also prize loyalty, friendship, and duty. While sexism is quite noticeable, two strong female characters help keep some of the objectification in check. Some relatable male friendships.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Maverick is cocky and cool, but he's got some depth to him, too. Charlie is a smart, tough female character.


A main character is killed during a traumatic plane crash/malfunction. A lot of fighter pilot skirmishes (including missiles/explosions) and characters in peril.


A graphic-for-its time love scene with characters shown embracing intimately in profile, but no nudity; some gratuitious use of tongue kissing. A teacher sleeps with her (adult) student. Lots of shirtless men in a beach volleyball scene. Some innuendo/references.


Several uses of "s--t," plus "son of a bitch," "goddamn," "damn," "d--khead," "p---y," "hell," "a--hole," "ass," "laid," and "oh my God."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Maverick drinks wine and then drives off on his motorcycle. Some beer drinking and cigar smoking by adults. Memorable scenes set in bars.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Top Gun is a blockbuster thriller that's chock full of narrow escapes, chases, and battles -- just what older tweens and teens love to see. But parents beware: There are also some violent and upsetting scenes, chiefly the death of a main character, which make it intense for younger kids. There's one graphic-for-its-time sex scene, though no nudity, and in one iconic scene, there are quite a few naked male torsos on a beach volleyball court. Winning is the most important thing to all the pilots, who try to intimidate one another with plenty of posturing and banter -- though when push comes to shove, loyalty and friendship have important roles to play, too. While sexism is quite noticeable, two strong female characters help keep some of the objectification in check.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byOrchidGirl April 9, 2020

Not really appropriate for kids

I was shown this movie in my early teens and it was too much for me. There's lots of violence, though not a lot of blood. There is definitely a lot of curs... Continue reading
Adult Written byBen C. March 11, 2018

Good movie but poor language

It is an interesting movie however the movie takes God's name in vain and has coarse language. My wife and I use TV guardian and filtered out the cuss wor... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byPolaris95 October 8, 2017

Classic Tom Cruise film

The first thing to say, is that action movies used to be quite different back in 1986. There were no frenetic action scenes, or CG spectacle. People liked it be... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byCDGolfer1011 November 9, 2020


THIS IS THE BEST MOVIE EVER!!! First of all, I LOVE Tom Cruise and he did a really good job in this movie by preforming his own stunts (flying the planes) and a... Continue reading

What's the story?

TOP GUN centers around Maverick (Tom Cruise), a troubled, cocky fighter pilot who's one of the best in the country. When another pilot loses his confidence in a standoff with an enemy MiG, Maverick and his buddy, Goose (Anthony Edwards), get the chance of a lifetime -- to attend the Top Gun Naval Flying School in Miramar, Calif. There, Maverick meets and tries to woo Charlie (Kelly McGillis); takes on his rival, Iceman (Val Kilmer), at the flying tests; and comes to terms with the mysterious death of his father, a naval fighter pilot whose death details have been kept confidential. But can Maverick temper his loose-canon ways to win the competition -- and the girl -- and cope with the death of someone close to him?

Is it any good?

Made at the peak of Tom Cruise's career in the 1980s, Top Gun is still exciting to watch. Here, Cruise really is a star in the best sense of the word, and the film is so well directed and acted that you forget his celebrity. For all the serious drama in this film, Top Gun is also heavy on explosions and charisma. Adults of a certain age will remember how this film spawned a fashion movement of aviator glasses and bomber jackets and what a huge star Cruise legitimately was.

More than The Color of Money or the Mission: Impossible franchise, Top Gun is the film in which Cruise proved that he could play more than an arrogant jerk with a killer smile. Cruise imbues Maverick with so much warmth and depth that you can't help rooting for him.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether they believe the moral of the story: "There are no points for second place." Is winning all that matters? What would you jeopardize to win?

  • Who do you think Top Gun is aimed at, audience wise? How do you think it might be different if it had been made today?

  • Do you think it was right for Charlie to pursue a romantic relationship with Maverick?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action and romance

Themes & Topics

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