Cocktail (1988) is an American romantic drama that gives viewers a peek at the bartending and service industry of the era. It is a film directed by Roger Donaldson and written by Heywood Gould, whose screenplay is based on his book. The film was a financial success, earning $78.2 million at the box office, and $93.3 million globally to a total of $171.5 million worldwide despite the negative reviews from the film critics.
Tom Cruise plays Brian Flanagan, a young man fresh out of the military who now wants to become a millionaire businessman. He takes business and economics classes during the day and tends bar at night, having learned from his new alcohol mentor/bar veteran, Doug Couglin (Bryan Brown) the fine art of bartending which includes throwing bottles around in a flashy manner in order to impress patrons.
The business picked up but the success soon led them falling out in friendship with both parted ways. Brian, still an entrepreneur at heart takes off for Jamaica. There he meets vacationing New York City waitress Jordan Mooney (Elisabeth Shue) and the two fall in love. But then Brian meets rich New York fashion executive Bonnie (Lisa Banes) who wants to take Brian back to Manhattan with her to become her drink-mixing stud.
When Jordan sees this, the love affair is put on hold. But not for long, as pangs of consciousness begin to filter through Brian’s drunken haze.
It is an old 80s film that may not be attractive to viewers of today but it is worth highlighting as it touches on the element of the bartending and service industry.
It showcase the works of the young Tom Cruise who plays the character as Brian Flanagan who ventured into the profession as a bartender and mixologist under the guidance of a bar veteran, Doug Couglin – a character played by Bryan Brown.
The story however did not elaborate much on the profession as the plot is steered towards the character’s personal lifestyle. With the career aspect of the character seen as solely at the foreground, the film took a superficial approach on the industry while highlighting the prospects.
The film was said to serve as a vital catalyst to the industry by inspiring many to take on a genuine interest. It was an overnight success for the film but the profession is still misunderstood by many even till today.
It is agreeable to say the film critics were right about the poor rating as the plot was superficial and predictable with the usual Hollywood elements – looks, love, and sex.
1. Eric D.Snider “Eric’s Bad Movies: Cocktail (1988)“, Film.com/Movies, August 28, 2008.
2. “Movie Info: Cocktail (1988)”, Rottentomatoes.com