Release Year: 1988
Director: Roger Donaldson
Writer: Heywood Gould (screenplay based on his 1984 novel Cocktail)
Starring: Tom Cruise, Bryan Brown, Elizabeth Shue, Lisa Banes, Laurence Luckinbill, Kelly Lynch, Gine Gershon, Ron Dean, Robert Donley, Ellen Foley
Rating: Nominated for 1 Golden Globe: Best Original Song for “Kokomo”.
A driven young New Yorker discovers he has a talent for bartending and takes a job in a bar in Jamaica where he falls in love.
Is cocktail a classic romantic drama posing as a pseudo-philosophical critique of 1980s yuppie culture or a pseudo-philosophical critique of 1980s yuppie culture posing as a classic romantic drama? There is no way of knowing, but something in between is probably closer to the truth. It certainly tries to be both and falls short of succeeding at either. Still there is something enjoyable about it that one cannot quite put one’s finger on. The film is certainly best when it is at its most breezy and fun-loving (the Jamaica scenes), whereas the enjoyment level drops when it goes for the very serious. The story in itself is fine, but character development seems to be just thrown in there as an afterthought to fit the story. Cruise (Risky Business, 1983) stars in a film that is mostly just there to service the great box office appeal he had at that time (and still has) and it marks the final of his more breezy flicks before he shifted gears with Rain Man (1988). But he is charming, Brown (Gods of Egypt, 2016) as the mentor is loathsome and likable in equal measure, and Shue (The Karate Kid, 1984) is sweetly romantic and lights up the film. With a totally catchy 1980s soundtrack, and an appeal that is difficult to pinpoint, this is a film worth checking out despite its failings.
NB: The trailer contains spoilers.
The film has the dubious honour of being one of the 100 Most Enjoyable Bad Movies Ever Made in founder of the Razzie Awards, John Wilson’s, book The Official Razzie Movie Guide.
Picture Copyright: Warner Bros.