Cocktail (1988) Directed by Roger Donaldson. With Tom Cruise, Bryan Brown, Elisabeth Shue and Lisa Bane.
After well over twenty-years, getting enjoyment from Roger Donaldson’s bar-based juggle-fest, Cocktail, rests heavily on your affection for all things 1980’s…and Tom Cruise. Coming two years after Top Gun, Cruise serves up yet another enjoyably energetic display of bravado, to an upbeat soundtrack of power-pop and pink neon.
Although it achieved box office success, at the time, the film was met with derision by many critics. In its best moments, it is a fairly unashamedly good time. The sight of Cruise and a charismatic Bryan Brown flipping spirit bottles to the sound of Robert Palmer’s Addicted to Love, is a sight you have to work hard not to smile at. At its worst, it’s an empty-headed, thinly cut slice of ’80’s guff.
Despite obvious flaws, and with the benefit of twenty-some years of hindsight, I have to admit that I sort of liked it. It was exactly the guilty pleasure I expected it to be, and no more. Cruise bounds around like an excited puppy, flashing his pearly whites at every given opportunity, while his mentor, Brown, keeps him in check with a series world-wise put downs.
The script takes an anti-establishment stance against the educational system, teachers are portrayed as un-streetwise, mocking killjoys, with no idea of what goes on in the real world. In Cocktail, if you have the enthusiasm, and the drive, you can make it without study and school – all you have to do is just believe in yourself. It’s clichéd ‘American dream’ stuff, which, in the context of a movie, is all well and good…just don’t try it at home.
In honesty, if you sit down to watch this, you should know what to expect. It’s a full-on movie star attack by Tom Cruise, with all the signature elements you’d expect. The final act takes an unexpectedly dark twist, which dents an otherwise sunny disposition, but on whole, despite the flimsy plotting, Cocktail serves up an agreeable 1980’s blend. 3/5