Friday, April 01, 2005

Cocktail (1988)

'When he pours, he reigns'

Starring: Tom Cruise, Bryan Brown, Elisabeth Shue
Directed by: Roger Donaldson

A 'guilty pleasure' to start with (one of many in my collection) but this was the first 15 or 'M'-rated film that I saw at the cinema back in Melbourne, Australia, when I was 13 years old. It sounds silly, but it was a major deal for me and introduced me to the joys of going to the cinema alone (I went through a phase in my late teens and early twenties where I would look with pity on people who did this. Now I realise it is the only way to see the movies you really want to see).
At the time, I was totally in love with Tom Cruise (imagine the pain when he did marry an Aussie girl and it wasn't me!); now, I enjoy it for the nostalgia trip it is and also because it stars an Aussie (Bryan Brown) and is directed by one - Roger Donaldson - as well. (My husband, a big-time movie buff, said that he thinks Cocktail is an 'awful' film and that it caused him to lose all respect for Donaldson as a director.)

Flanagan is a lovable but self-centered chancer who, after leaving the army, finds himself working in Douglas Coughlin's (Bryan Brown) bar on the Upper East Side (to support himself through a college degree) where he becomes somewhat of a bartending celebrity. Flanagan moves to the tropical paradise of Jamaica, where the living is good and the money even better, so that he can get the funds together to set up his own bar. He falls in love with Jordan (Elisabeth Shue) but will his cocktail dreams come true?

Cruise's character Brian Flanagan is a precursor to his hit role as Jerry Maguire and this is a great glimpse of Cruise before he hit mega-stardom doing what he does best - Tom Cruise playing Tom Cruise' - and Tom flashes plenty of those trademark grins for the ladies. (A memorable line is when Shue's character Jordan tells Cruise, "Your sexy little smile isn't going to work this time". I wonder if Nicole Kidman said that to him during their marriage?)
Elisabeth Shue is a pleasure to watch and is an underated talent. I still think she should have won 'Best Actress' Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas in 1995 (Susan Sarandon picked it up for Dead Man Walking). The soundtrack to this film suits its frothy appeal: 'Hippy, Hippy Shake' by the Georgia Satellites, "Addicted to Love" by Robert Palmer and the mega-hit 'Kokomo' by the Beach Boys.

Cocktail is a prime example of why Tom Cruise is so popular: fresh-faced, lovable and sexy. I think Tom is quite a lightweight, for the exception of Magnolia, and this film is proof of that: he will never win an Oscar, unless it is for lifetime achievement when he's 70.

Interesting fact: The Jamaica bar scenes were filmed at Dragon Bay, Port Antonio, Jamaica.


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