' ' Cinema Romantico: Cocktail (Flashback to the 80's, Part 3)

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Cocktail (Flashback to the 80's, Part 3)

Skewered by critics but a smash at the box office in 1988, a more "innocent" time when no one knew Kokomo was just a city in Indiana, "Cocktail" was a melding of the sweet class warfare romances of the 40's and 50's with the "greed is good" mantra of the 80's. But mostly it was a star vehicle for Tom Cruise.

Cruise, his crazy laugh already honed, is Brian Flanagan, fresh out of the army, an optimist armed with How To Be A Success books in place of the Bible, who hops a bus back home to Queens where he stares longingly across the fragrant water at hopeful Manhattan where he goes in an attempt to find a job - appearing as if he is auditioning for his future role as a hitman in "Collateral" - to make him millions only to discover - much like Michael J. Fox in "Secret of My Success" - no experience means no employment. He earns a job as a bartender with Doug Coughlin (Bryan Brown), wielding cynical platitudes ("Anything else is always something better") like martini olives, as mentor and young Flanagan flourishes, developing into the most skilled bartender in the five boroughs, a bartender who famously can take nearly three minutes to make one strawberry daiquiri while shimmying to The Georgia Satellites (whose name I was stunned to find nowhere during my April visit to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame). Inevitably a woman (a young Gina Gershon, who I had completely forgotten was in this movie) comes between the men, leading to a brawl, leading to Brian flying down Jamaica way and tending bar beachside and finding himself in the midst of a Meet Cute with sultry Jordan Mooney (Elisabeth Shue) at the exact same moment Doug makes his requisite return with a rich femme fatale (Kelly Lynch) on his arm for the purposes of fronting the funds for his dream bar back in NYC.

Post Falling-In-Love-With-Jordan Montage is when Doug bets Brian that he cannot and/or will not seduce a rich matron at the bar and if there is anything I recall about my first time seeing this R-rated flick as a PG kid was thinking as this bet unfolded "No, Tom Cruise! Why would you smite Elisabeth Shue for this floozy?! WHY?!" And 22 years later as I watched all I could think was "No, Tom Cruise! Why would you smite Elisabeth Shue for this floozy?! WHY?!"


And 22 years later Tom Cruise still smited Elisabeth Shue for that floozy and, of course, Elisabeth Shue finds about it and, of course, Tom Cruise winds up back in New York at which point "Cocktail" morphs into "West Side Story", kind of, as Tom Cruise tries to re-win the heart of Elisabeth Shue only to come up against her rich, unforgiving father all of which leads to the movie's most immortal line:

"When a guy lays down a dare you gotta take it."

That you do, Tom Cruise. That you do. And then all ends well - well, except for the fact that Doug Coughlin takes his own life in the wake of his get-rich-quick ruse going up in proverbial flames and Jordan is apparently never going to see her family again upon choosing to go with Brian and the audience is pretty sure Flanagan's bar is eventually going to go belly up when considering the film's final "twist" but this reviewer, quite frankly, doesn't seem to see what any of that has to do with anything especially in the face of this week's Long Distance Request And Dedication - which comes from 11 year old Nicholas Prigge in Waukee, Iowa in August of 1988. He writes:

"Dear Future Nick, This afternoon I did a terrible thing. I snuck into an R rated movie. My mom was shopping and she dropped me off at the Southridge 3. I bought a ticket for 'Caddyshack II' but right across the hall was a movie called 'Cocktail' starring Tom Cruise and Elisabeth Shue. He was Maverick. She was Chris Parker. I wanted to see this movie and I didn't really want to see 'Caddyshack II.' I had never successfully snuck into an R rated movie. I was always ejected by a humorless usher or thwarted by a stern cashier. But this time I streaked inside the theater, scurried to the second row and sunk as low as I could in my seat while still being able to see the screen. Thankfully the lax security at the Southridge 3 pales in comparison to theaters on the west side of Des Moines. If an usher ever came in, I never saw him. I have to be honest, Future Nick, I felt a little guilty. I had scammed the system, much like 'Cocktail's' Doug Coughlin, and his scamming of the system had caused him to put a bullet in his brain. What would my parents do if they found out? But I have to tell you, Future Nick, the reward was worth the risk. You see....I think I have a crush on Elisabeth Shue.

It's the eighties, Future Nick, and I don't know how well you remember this era. It's a time of leg warmers and headbands and acid wash jeans and girls with poofy hair. Even this Kylie Minogue girl who some guy in a DeLorean told me is wicked hot out there in the future is kinda just so-so. But Elisabeth Shue is grace. She's understatement. She and she alone redeems poofy hair. And when she was swimming around in that waterfall, Future Nick, well it was quite the sight for clueless eyes. Immediately afterwards I purchased the 'Cocktail' Soundtrack on cassette except there was a problem....it didn't have 'Shelter Of Your Love,' the song playing while she frollicked under that cataract of beaming liquid. Would you please play 'Shelter Of Your Love' by Jimmy Cliff and let Elisabeth Shue know that if she ever gets nominated for an Oscar for playing, oh, let's say, a prostitute in Vegas, that she should win and if she doesn't I will harbor unfair resentment toward the winner for the rest of my life. Sincerely, Eleven Year Old Nick."

Recorded in 1981 and featured on Jimmy Cliff's album Give The People What They Want, we are now going to give Eleven Year Old Nick what he wants. Long Live The 80's.

2 comments:

Rory Larry said...

Jimmy Cliff is awesome and I thank 11 year old Nick for requesting it and adult Nick for playing it.

Nicholas Prigge said...

What's ironic is that Jimmy Cliff was at Lollapalooza except that he was playing on the other side of the park at the same time I was waiting for Lady Gaga to go on. I would have liked to have seen him but the sacrifice had to be made. Such is life.