Nowadays, this movie carries a whole conspiracy behind it in which the film is to be interpreted as Maverick's struggle with his homosexuality. The writers say they didn't write it that way, but don't seem to have any sort of problem with that interpretation. They further suggest that part of it may have had to do with director Tony Scott's style. The 80s was an era of imagination, open-mindedness, and to be flamboyant was considered pretty cool. So 'Top Gun' was probably really just a film that fits into its time better than it fits with things now.
Having said all that, I was just a kid when I got into this movie, and all my fragile little mind saw it as was one of my first real doses of action. I didn't get any of the jokes, really, or what the extremely tonguey sex scene was all about, but it was just a fun movie to me. I was only 4 when this was released theatrically, so I might estimate I was about 7 or 8 when I first saw this (recorded from TV). The whole supposed subtext thing was something I grew up without, and nothing ever clicked until I saw that Tarantino clip from 'Sleep With Me' just a few years ago. It's an interesting thought, but the closing line on that clip is all wrong, and any real 'Top Gun' fan knows that.
F-14 Tomcat pilots Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (Tom Cruise) and Nick "Goose" Bradshaw (Anthony Edwards) are offered the chance to train at the Naval Fighter Weapons School in Miramar, known to pilots as "Top Gun"; a school for the elite in Naval Aviation by CAG "Stinger" (James Tolkan). This is due to the top contender, "Cougar" (John Stockwell) quitting after an incident involving two MiG-28 aircraft. Maverick was second in line, and therefore takes his place. Upon arrival, they meet the likes of a few colourful characters, namely his biggest contenders, Tom "Iceman" Kazansky (Val Kilmer) and "Slider" (Rick Rossovich), and his instructors; Mike "Viper" Metcalf (Tom Skerritt), Rick "Jester" Heatherly (Michael Ironside) and Charlotte "Charlie" Blackwood (Kelly McGillis) who also becomes Maverick's love interest.
Throughout the film, we learn a few things about Maverick; namely that he flies by the seat of his pants, and his flying dangerously is part of what makes him one of the best pilots. We further learn details of his past, largely involving his father, who was also a pilot, and whose death has been a mystery to Maverick his whole life. It deals with his attraction to his instructor, his attitude in wanting to be the "best of the best", and an incident (which I won't spoil) that makes him question whether or not he's really worthy of being there. So a lot of it is sort of "internal struggle" as it is, which gives the subtext theory a bit of leeway. But I'd have to say it's open to interpretation. Personally, I've never looked that deep into it.
Anyway, this is another fine example of a totally 80s movie. As I mentioned before, there is a part of this that's sort of stuck in time, but it has gone on to become a classic for many, despite quite a few critical responses to it. Perhaps the best thing about this movie is its soundtrack, which is almost a soundtrack to the 80s on its own. You'd probably recognize a few songs on it, but none more so than 'Danger Zone' (which 'Archer' totally resurrected). This was one of those albums we played a lot of in the house, and I used to take it with me in my Walkman (what iPods used to be) for bike rides because, hell, it was a good one for the road.
As far as recommendation goes, it's probably not going to be for everyone. But I would suggest a viewing if you're into 80s culture in any way, or, if nothing else, to get some background for the upcoming 'Maverick' movie (now slated for November, 2021). Speaking personally, this is one I have very fond memories with, and I might throw it on the odd time for a good dose of nostalgia. This viewing still gave me a fun time, and subtext or not, I can still manage to interpret things the way I did as a kid, although I have to admit that I understand where Tarantino is coming from... all except for that closing line.