Val Kilmer: An actor I constantly forget exists. © Val Kilmer

I thought I might be the only one, but I wasn’t. I had some friends over last week to watch a movie, an important film, iconic even, that I felt ashamed of having never watched in its entirety. I didn’t tell my friends what film we’d be watching, for fear of ridicule. They all came over, sat down, and I pressed play. It took about a minute for everyone to clue in, and then the unexpected happened: my friends revealed that they, too, had never watched Top Gun.

Val Kilmer: An actor I constantly forget exists. © Val Kilmer

Val Kilmer: An actor I constantly forget exists. © Val Kilmer

Sure, it’s some sort of classic, but for some reason, I had never watched the whole thing. And I’m actually glad that I waited this long to take it in, because I got to watch it as a grown man who’s seen a ton of movies. I’ve seen Top Gun references all over the place, and only somewhat gotten them. Hell, I’ve seen Hot Shots about a dozen times, and I still hadn’t seen the movie it was parodying.

I’m not sure exactly why, but there’s something really cool about experiencing one of those big movies for the first time. I guess it’s a form of relief, of finally being in the know, of adding another film to the repertoire of references that’ll make total sense to you from that point on.

It felt really good to scratch one off the list. I’ve been known to give people shit for not seeing certain movies that I simply assume everyone’s seen, like Fight Club, American Psycho, Animal House, Field of Dreams, The Sting, but truthfully there are a ton of classics that I also haven’t seen yet, and I’m ashamed of it. I’ve never even watched The Godfather, and that was my nickname at one point.

The sad reality of it is that there are always going to be classics that you never end up seeing. With the rate at which new movies are released, it becomes easier and easier not to watch fantastic movies just because they’ve aged quite a bit. But those trips into the past are generally worth it. You end up seeing these incredible pieces of work that are slowly being forgotten, and in doing so, you are keeping them alive.

I know I’ve only named blockbusters here, movies that aren’t likely to disappear in the near future, but you get the point: A ton of awesome movies were made in the previous century. Go watch some, it’ll change your appreciation for current films, too.

-Al

P.S.: I’m gonna watch Cocktail and Days of Thunder now. Young Tom Cruise is super fun to watch.

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