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Monday, July 16, 2012


By now, unless you have been living on another planet the past few days, you have probably heard the news that Tom Cruise has gotten a divorce.


Yes, after five years of marriage, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes have called it quits.  And, I imagine that when the news broke a few weeks ago, there were quite a few reactions from the general public.  Some were shocked that it happened.  Many others saw it coming a mile away.  And many more shrugged their shoulders and exclaimed “WHO CARES?!?” upon hearing what happened.  I’ll tell you right off the bat that I definitely had one of these three reactions...but I think I’ll keep my opinion to myself.  After all, today’s not Thursday.  J

However, today is Monday, and considering that I have opened up this blog entry with a blurb about Tom Cruise, it’s almost a given that we’re going to look back at one of his films.

Which one are we going to be looking at though?  Any ideas?

Here are a few points to ponder.  Tom Cruise has been somewhat unlucky in love.  His relationships with Katie Holmes, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, and Mimi Rogers all crashed and burned.  In this movie, the character that Tom Cruise portrays also has several relationships, and a lot of them crash and burned as well for a variety of reasons.

And given that it’s the middle of summer, why not feature a movie that gives off a summer like vibe?  After all, a good portion of the movie was set in Jamaica, which has some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet.

Speaking of beaches, here’s another related piece of trivia.  Did you know that during the same year today’s blog topic was released, a certain band had a comeback single on the radio?  Although the band had never stopped releasing albums since they formed in the early 1960s, this song was the band’s first Top 10 hit since 1976’s “Rock and Roll Music”, and the band’s first #1 hit since 1966’s “Good Vibrations”. 

ARTIST:  The Beach Boys
SONG:  Kokomo
ALBUM:  Still Cruisin’
DATE RELEASED:  July 18, 1988

Okay, so what do Tom Cruise, a string of failed relationships, Jamaican beaches, and the Beach Boys have in common?

They all appear in the 1988 film “Cocktail”, which is our topic of discussion for today.

The film was directed by Roger Donaldson, produced by Touchstone Pictures, and is loosely based on the novel of the same name written by Heywood Gould, who served a role in the film production as the screenwriter.

This film is one that admittedly has its blessings and its curses.  The film itself boasted a cast filled with big named stars.  In addition to Tom Cruise, the film also starred Elisabeth Shue, Bryan Brown, Gina Gershon, Kelly Lynch, Lisa Banes, and Laurence Luckinbill.  The film also managed to make over $171 million in the box office, and had a very successful soundtrack album, which in addition to the Beach Boys also featured songs by Little Richard, The Georgia Satellites, John Cougar Mellencamp, and Robbie Nevil.

On the flip side, the film was torn apart by critics, and currently holds a 13% approval rating on “Rotten Tomatoes”.  The film also earned Tom Cruise a Razzie nomination for Worst Actor, and Roger Donaldson one for Worst Director.  If you thought that was bad enough, the movie actually ended up “winning” two Razzies under the categories of Worst Screenplay and Worst Picture.  Talk about an “ouch” moment if ever there was one.

But here’s a little bit of a confession for you.  I don’t actually mind this film.  Sure, there’s a lot wrong with the movie, and I admit that the writing could have been a lot better than it was.  But sometimes you need a film to watch that has very little substance, and I suppose “Cocktail” is one of those films.  I think that there was nothing wrong with the cast, and I admit that even the storyline seemed’s just hard for me to explain why it tanked so badly.  Although I’m certain that many of you reading this will offer your opinions about the film...and of course, I welcome all of your comments.

The film takes a look at the world of bartending and cocktail mixing, as most of the action takes place at various bars and cocktail lounges in both New York City and Jamaica (the two main settings of the film).  Brian Flanagan (Cruise), fresh out of the army, moves to New York in hopes of opening up his own business.  He takes several college classes in order to earn a degree in business, but to pay for his tuition he ends up taking a part-time job as a bartender.  Unfortunately, when Brian first starts his job, he doesn’t exactly have the confidence and flair right off the bat, smashing more bottles of alcohol than serving them to patrons.

Once Brian meets a man named Doug Coughlin (Brown), Brian’s techniques get a little better, and soon he can serve screwdrivers and Long Island Iced Teas with the best of them.  Doug and Brian quickly become very close, and despite Brian’s naivete, Doug wastes no time in offering him the tips and tricks of the trade.  Doug refers to his advice as “Coughlin’s Law”, and some of his pearls of wisdom include such quotes as “Drink or Be Gone!” and “Anything else is always something better!”

Brian is absolutely determined to make a name for himself in any way, and has big dreams for his future.  Doug has his dreams as well.  He intends on opening up a cocktail bar with the name “Cocktails & Dreams”.  He is a bit reluctant to go into a business partnership with Brian though.  Although Doug and Brian make a great team, and mesmerize customers by combining choreography with drink mixing, Doug wasn’t sure he wanted to run a business with the young, inexperienced Brian.

After a few months, Brian and Doug end up landing a coveted bartending job at an exclusive club filled with the wealthiest and most famous people in Manhattan.  One day, Brian ends up attracting the attention of a beautiful brunette named Coral (Gershon), and they end up getting involved in a sexual relationship.  But after Brian and Doug get involved in a friendly competition involving free throws, Doug bets Brian that Coral will dump him by the end of the week.  Brian takes the bet, believing that what he and Coral have together is special, and that nothing will split them up.

Unfortunately, something did split them up.  You see, Doug hated to lose at any cost, and he manipulated the situation to win the bet.  He told Coral a bunch of lies about Brian, and ends up sleeping with Coral.


Brian is filled with anger over Doug’s betrayal, fights with him at work, and breaks off their partnership and friendship.  As for he and Coral, they simply weren’t meant to be, but she does end up giving him some parting advice.  She tells Brian not to give up on his dream and that he should go seek his own fortune.  So Brian decides to leave New York City and Doug Coughlin behind for a new life on the shores of Jamaica.  He quickly takes a bartending job in Jamaica, and ends up meeting a woman named Jordan Mooney (Shue).  Coincidentally, Jordan also happens to be from New York City, where she worked as a waitress, and has dreams of becoming an artist.  Brian and Jordan end up befriending each other, and soon their friendship turns into a passionate love affair complete with skinny dipping and making love next to a bonfire.

And then a familiar face comes back into Brian’s life.

Yes, Doug Coughlin pops up like the proverbial bad penny in Jamaica.  And this time, he has himself a wife, Kerry (Lynch).  And once again, Doug makes Brian another bet.  Doug bets Brian that he couldn’t be the first one to sleep with a woman named Bonnie (Banes), a wealthy, older woman.  Now, you would think that Brian would have learned his lesson the first time around, but the ever charismatic Doug manages to convince Brian to take the bet.  He does, unaware that Jordan happened to come across Brian and Bonnie making out.  Feeling devastated and humiliated, Jordan flies back to New York the following morning.


So, Brian ended up losing another girl all because of Doug’s bets.  And you wonder why I complained about the writing in the film.  At any rate, determined to get his revenge on Doug (because clearly that is more important than losing the love of your life in this movie), he decides to return to New York City arm-in-arm with Bonnie.  Brian has the idea in his mind that if he ends up developing a relationship with Bonnie, he’ll end up being given a great job within her company.  But Brian soon realizes that the plan was a very bad idea.  It all comes to a head when Brian and Bonnie get into an argument at an art showing following a scuffle with the artist at the show.  In a moment of clarity, Brian realizes that he does not want to be with Bonnie, and cuts all ties with her.


Man, this movie is rough on relationships, isn’t it?

So, here’s the dilemma that Brian is faced with once he ditches Bonnie.  He realizes that he wants to be with Jordan, and that he made a terrible mistake in hurting her.  He wants another chance to make things right, so he tracks her down.  Imagine Brian’s surprise when he discovers that she happens to be pregnant with his child!  Of course, Jordan is not about to let Brian back into her life so quickly, and gives him the cold shoulder.  But Brian refuses to take no for an answer.  He follows Jordan to Park Avenue where she is staying in a penthouse owned by her parents.  Of course, Jordan’s father, Richard (Luckinbill) is very unhappy with the situation, and he comes up with a solution.  He’ll give Brian the money to start up his own business, if he stays away from Jordan and her unborn child.  The offer is an agonizing one for Brian, and he is left with a tough choice.  What does he end up deciding?

And what happens when he discovers a secret about Doug that could end up destroying Doug’s marriage forever?  The resolution to this plot twist is quite out of the blue and shocking, given what we know about Doug’s personality, and in the end, it steers Brian into the last twenty minutes of the film, which sees a final resolution in the mess that is Brian and Jordan’s tattered relationship.

Oh, but I’m not telling you how this film ends.  You’ll have to watch it yourself.  Maybe over a nice cocktail?

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