Dir: Roger Donaldson, 1988
By 1988, Cruise was just beginning to really hit the big time.
After his box office hit, Top Gun, Cruise could now afford to pick and choose the parts he wanted. With his good looks and charisma, Tom Cruise was well on his way to becoming a romantic lead. Cocktail was the film that, arguably, cemented his status.
Young Brian Flanagan (Cruise), has just left the army and is seeking work while completing his business degree.
Accepting a job at a bar run by Australian, Doug Coughlin (Bryan Brown), Flanagan soon learns how to be an ace bartender, impressing the patrons with his showmanship.
However, after a fall out with Doug, Brian takes a job in Jamaica where he meets and falls in love with Jordan (Elisabeth Shue).
Cocktail is a quintessential eighties movie. Filmed in bright colours and with a typically eighties soundtrack, Donaldson’s film is an important part of capturing the excesses of the decade.
Unfortunately, that’s about it, in terms of value. If it wasn’t for being a springboard to Cruise’s superstardom, Cocktail would pretty much have sunk.
Allegedly a comedy/drama, the humour is very dry and discreet to the point of being unnoticeable. That is to say, that it isn’t particularly funny. The drama is laid on rather heavily, giving the film a stodgy feel.
Utterly ridiculous, the characters are not people we like or can adhere to. They are the same two-dimensional people that we see in every other eighties movie. You’ve got the green kid and his mentor, who eventually becomes better than the master in the space of, what, a week? The mentor becomes the best friend (think The Karate Kid), best friend then double crosses his protege. The love interest is the daughter of a wealthy businessman, and an upcoming artist, despite the fact that she can’t draw for shit (seriously, the sketch she does of Cruise is an eyesore). The rich dad tries to buy off his daughter’s romantic interest and blah, blah, blah. You get the idea.
In typical Hollywood fashion, guys and girls jump into bed with each other without a thought of protection, despite being at the height of the AIDS epidemic.
Aside from Bryan Brown, the cast play their roles with as much enthusiasm as they can. Ironically, this has a negative impact as tips the film into over the top melodrama. Brown, however, plays Coughlin entirely laid back, creating a likeable and honest character that firmly plants him as the real star of the film.
Despite the negativity, Cocktail is still a rather enjoyable movie. Certainly no masterpiece, and one you wouldn’t want to watch very often, but it’s okay once in a blue moon.
A time filler.