By Nathan Kamal | 2 minutes ago
Tom Cruise was recently described as “irrelevant” by none other than the star war pigs himself, Mickey Rourke. While Cruise recently received an honorable Palme d’Or, one of the highest awards in cinema, and had the biggest single commercial success of his highly commercially successful career Top Gun: Maverick, Mickey Rourke spoke more about his tendency to play the same kind of stoic action heroes in his films after the 1990s. He’s a bit right, but there was a time when Tom Cruise actually took risks. Sometimes those risks didn’t pay off, at least with critics, which could be one reason he stopped taking them. The worst culprit is the 1988 film cocktail, who has the lowest Rotten Tomatoes score of Tom Cruise’s career. It is also currently streaming on Paramount+.
Tom Cruise stars cocktail as Brian Flanagan, an eager young go-getter fresh out of the army. He meets up with his Uncle Pat (legendarily gruff character actor Ron Dean), where he’s told that the key to success is to ruthlessly outperform and outperform everyone around him. What follows is a montage of failed job interviews in which seemingly every stockbroker in New York City tells Tom Cruise that an enthusiastic attitude doesn’t equal experience, college degree, or connections. After failing to break into the world of high finance, he seeks a job as a bartender at a TGI Friday’s with Doug Coughlin (Bryan Brown) as his mentor.
Watch after cocktail in 2022, contextualization requires that TGI Friday’s, before it was famous for its potato skins and Philly cheesesteak burgers, was the original singles cocktail bar. There’s no escaping it, a huge part of the storyline cocktail Tom Cruise gets laid as a bartender at a bar whose main purpose is to get laid. While Tom Cruise masters the art of flair bartending and dances very badly to The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Tom Cruise sleeps with Gina Gershon until she sleeps with Doug too. After a bitter dissolution of their partnership as a slingshot, Tom Cruise moves to Jamaica and bartends on the beach.
There he meets Elisabeth Shue and the plot of cocktail accelerated suddenly. They have a romance (including waterfall sex) that falls apart when he sleeps with an older, wealthy woman. Doug reappears, now married to an heiress, and then commits suicide. Elisabeth Shue turns out to be pregnant and Tom Cruise gets into a fight with her wealthy father because literally everyone in the film is wealthy at some point, except for Tom Cruise. They end up together, he opens his own bar (which shares the same logo as the film) and it turns out they’re having twins, which for some reason is treated like a big twist.
cocktail was written by Heywood Gould (who also wrote the cult films of the 1970s rolling thunder and The boys from Brazil), based in part on his own life as a bartender. TGI Friday founder Alan Stillman has consistently claimed that he was the inspiration for Tom Cruise’s ruthless, thoughtless, and consistently aimless character, which may not be the boast he thinks it is. At least cocktail is now an interesting artifact of the 1980s when singles bars were still new and exciting, not getting a high-level managerial job straight away with no experience is treated as some kind of injustice, and a decent portion of the film is set in Jamaica with no single person of color as a character.
By the time cocktail was released, Tom Cruise already had A risky venture, The color of moneyand top gun under his belt. Despite it, cocktail kind of feels like an entry film for Cruise. While Brian Flanagan has some of that famous Maverick cockiness, it’s presented more as a thin facade for an insecure person to hide, rather than a testament to his unerring skill and talent. The film ends with Tom Cruise opening a humble bar and seemingly happy being a family man, an oddly reticent conclusion to his quest for money and power. Although he was attacked by critics, cocktail was ridiculously successful; it beat top gun‘s opening box office numbers and eventually grossed $171 million, a colossal sum in 1988. However, it has been largely forgotten except as a reference for flair bartending top gun has become a cultural touchstone. Even the slickest bartender can’t compete with Danger Zone.