Cocktail (1988)

Cocktail (1988)
  • 80385
  • R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release year: 1988 ()
  • Running time: 104 min
  • Original Title: Cocktail
  • Voted: 80385

With dreams of becoming a successful businessman and even a millionaire, the ex-military man, Brian Flanagan, waits for his big break while serving drinks at a New York City tavern and studying for his degree. However, when the charismatic cynic and veteran bartender, Doug Coughlin, becomes the ambitious Brian's sage mentor, their chemistry combined with the flamboyant tricks behind the bar will soon yield fame and money until they decide to split ways. Eventually, as Flanagan struggles to raise money in Jamaica to open his own bar someday, he will fall hard for the striving waitress Jordan Mooney, while a wealthy fashion executive wants to take him back to Manhattan to live with her. Is there a future between Brian and Jordan?

1Tom CruiseBrian Flanagan
2Bryan BrownDoug Coughlin
3Elisabeth ShueJordan Mooney
4Lisa BanesBonnie
  • by 10/10

    As far as entertaining storytelling goes, Cocktail is an almost perfectfilm. Here is an example of compelling dialogue, magnificent urbancinematography, superb acting, and thoughtful editing combining to presentus with a very lucid portrayal of one man's coming to terms with the realityof dreams and ambitions in our world.

    Cocktail is ultimately the story of Bryan Flanagan's (Tom Cruise) reactionas he doggedly pursues his ambition of getting rich, only to learn that hisdream was never really worth pursuing. A new arrival in New York City, the"greatest concentration of wealth in the world," young Flanagan immediatelyseeks to establish himself in the business world. Without an education orpractical experience, however, he suffers one humiliation after anotherwhile job-seeking. Eventually he realizes that the business world demands aneducation, so he enrolls in college and settles for a job as a bartender topay the bills. But then something extraordinary happens: he discovers thathe actually enjoys bartending more than he enjoys college, and that he ischallenged more by the mentorship of bartender Doug Coughlin (Bryan Brown)than he is by the tutelage of his bitter, sadistic college professors.Together, Coughlin and Flanagan develop the bartending equivalent of asynchronized swimming routine that delivers them both the recognition andmoney (in tips) they crave.

    At this point, Cocktail could easily have degraded into one long, hedonisticparty, since the bartending action is certainly entertaining. But instead, afalling out between Flanagan and Coughlin suddenly shifts both the tone andthe location of the film as Flanagan moves to the Caribbean to save moneyfor starting his own business.

    In Jamaica he meets Jordan (Elizabeth Shue), a lovely, down-to-earth artist,and for the first time in the film Flanagan truly falls in love with a womanhe takes to bed, and he seems genuinely surprised to realize that love hasbeen a more worthy goal than sex all along. With the re-introduction ofCoughlin's bad influence, however, Flanagan ignores what he has learnedabout love and pursues a wealthy benefactor, Bonnie (Lisa Banes), breakingJordan's heart in the process.

    Returning to New York City with Bonnie, which should have been the break hehas been waiting for, Flanagan instead suffers yet more humiliation in thepower game and finally comes to realize that he'd already achieved thesuccess that makes life worth living when he was with Jordan. So he burnshis bridges with Bonnie, and the remainder of the film focuses on his newambition, to win back the trust of the woman he loves.

    This is a great story, one that requires the viewer to really challengeAmericans' preoccupation with money and power. Yet the beauty of Cocktail isthe smooth, realistic way in which this story is presented. For example, fewfilmmakers today would risk losing the audience's attention by focusing atlength on Jordan's silent reaction to Flanagan's betrayal, yet these fewsilent moments on a darkened beach say more than any amount of dialogue evercould--but only if you're listening!

    Cocktail is a wonderful story of love, ambition, opportunity, humiliation,frustration, sacrifice, the absurdity of business and academia, and thedefinitions of "success" and "failure," sprinkled with real-world humor thatis noticeably different--and funnier--than mere comedy. It is also anexciting and fun film to watch, a "feel-good" movie of the highest caliber.I take my hat off to everyone who worked on this fine film.

  • by 7/10

    Tom Cruise stars as Brian Flanagan, who is fresh out the army andfinding that landing an executive job in the big city isn't as easy ashe thought. Taking on a course for a business degree, he winds upworking part time at a cocktail bar under the tutelage of bar tendingphilosopher Doug Coughlin (Bryan Brown). A new world is about to openup for both of them.

    Right, I have the softest of soft spots for this movie. That doesn'tmean I'm not aware of its many failings, most notably the heavy weightof predictability that pounds down on the head from the very firstframe. But as simple as it may be (oh this is plot line simplicitydecorated in flashy booze bottle twiddling), and the obvious cash in onCruise's box office appeal that it was (note that his next film was theconsiderable shift to Rain Man), it's fun (thanks to Bryan Brown'smugging) and sweetly romantic (thanks to Elisabeth Shue being sweetlyromantic). Yeah it's a hard sell I know! But Cruise charms in a waythat has his haters swigging the Alabama Slammers by the dozen, andguys! Kelly Lynch pops up wearing a thong. Yeah I'm pretty shallowwhere Cocktail is concerned, sue me...

    All together now, "This magic moment" 6.5/10

  • by

    Essentially, `Cocktail' is nothing more than your average ‘popcorn flick'. However, it is a darn good one. What was surprisingly nice about this filmwas that it actually had a mature amount of depth to it. It is alsooverflowing with big-name stars such as Tom Cruise (Risky Business),Elizabeth Shue (Adventures in Babysitting), and Bryan Brown (The ThornBirds). But, the supporting characters happen to be so fascinating that attimes it's hard to focus on anything else. In addition to this, the filmhas glorious cinematography- especially the scenes set in the tropics. Another thing `Cocktail' has going for it is its soundtrack: great 80smusic!! At its heart, `Cocktail' is nothing more than the same romanticfluff you have seen hundreds of times before- but it is presented in such anice package that who really cares?

  • by 8/10

    Tom Cruise what a performance , I think he touched all four bases withthis one,, however Bryan Brown steals the show for me,, add in GinaGershon and Elisabeth Shue, what's not to like,, a college studenttrying to make money has trouble finding a job,, so he finds a bar towork at part-time while he goes to school,, their he meets an oldergentleman who gives him a chance to be the bartender, he learns all thetricks of the trade and things seem to be looking up for our maincharacter, he plans on marrying his sweetheart but he has troublemanaging his relationship,, the bar, and going to school,, things startgoing a little south for our mentor as well, when he get's involvedwith a woman that he really shouldn't, this movie is well packed withsome action,, some lighthearted moments, a lot of serious moments,, andtons of laughter,, this is one of tom cruise's better earlier efforts Ifelt,, what an enjoyable movie to watch,

  • by 7/10

    God only knows in my lifetime I've dealt with a lot of bartenders, Istill do now when I go in a place and only order non-alcoholicbeverage. But unless it was a topless joint where the bartenders wererequired to do more than pour and converse and maybe toss out anoccasional drunk, I never did see one do the Hippy Hippy Shake. Andhere Tom Cruise does it tandem with Bryan Brown.

    Still Cocktail is an entertaining enough film with Tom Cruise nowsettled into the parts he usually plays as an all American socialclimber. Tom's fresh out of the army and his first stop is his uncleRon Dean's bar in Queens. He probably could get a job with his uncle,but Tom aims for higher things.

    The problem Tom has in looking for a job is that old adage, what kindof work are you out of? He tries in all kinds of places, but he has noexperience. An exhausted Tom arrives at an upscale bar presided over byBryan Brown and the two of them hit it off. Brown teaches Tom all thetricks of the trade in bartending and hustling.

    Bartending on the Upper East Side is a whole different world than theworking class of Queens. In fact right around the same time Cocktailwas out the tragic murder of Jennifer Levin by preppie killer RobertChambers was introducing via the tabloids of the world of the yuppiebars of that vicinity. It was the world of Cocktail brought to agruesome reality.

    The women come and go for both Cruise and Brown. Success turns out tobe ephemeral. The key scene in the film for me is that where Brownafter marrying East Side princess Kelly Lynch and her father's moneyhas backed him in opening the most posh establishment on the East Side,he confesses that he doesn't know the first thing about really runninga business. Running a bar/restaurant is a lot more than pouring drinksand dispensing wisdom. Turns out Brown hasn't got that much wisdom andhis realization of that leads to tragedy. It's a beautifully playedscene, the best I've ever seen from Bryan Brown.

    Elizabeth Shue as Tom's East Side princess is very appealing, but Ialso like Ron Dean as Cruise's uncle who really does have a lot ofwisdom and he doesn't think that he has it simply because he poursdrinks.

    Brian Flannagan in Cocktail became one of Tom Cruise's staple roles andfurther endeared him as our number one superstar. Still I've yet to seea real bartender do the Hippy Hippy Shake.

1Dean Semlercinematographer
2J. Peter Robinsoncomposer
3Roger Donaldsondirector
4Robert W. Cortproducer
5Ted Fieldproducer
6Heywood Gouldwriter