Cocktail (1988)

Cruisin’ for a boozin’

Long before he was jumping on sofas, pledging allegiance to Xenu and trying to kill Hitler, Tom Cruise starred in some of the most enjoyable films that have ever been committed to celluloid. Films like Top Gun, Days of Thunder, and this week’s selection, Cocktail, all followed a simple formula that provided viewers with plenty of entertainment without having to do a lot of unnecessary thinking. If I wanted to think, I would watch the Price is Right. If I want some pure, good old-fashioned entertainment, I watch the film with the terrific tagline: “When he pours, he reigns,” Cocktail.

Cocktail posterThe 1988 blockbuster Cocktail sees Cruise portraying Brian Flanaghan, a young man who is fresh out of the army, looking to make an impact on the business world. Unfortunately for Brian, no one on Wall Street is looking to hire someone without a college education. It’s a good thing they are so picky – if they had just anyone off the streets working there, the markets could tumble, and we would fall into a huge recession.

Flanaghan enrolls in college, and takes a job as a bartender to earn ends meat. I myself have never had ends meat, but I believe it comes from a pig, and is said to be delicious, and therefore worth earning. At first he is quite an atrocious booze slinger, but with the help of mentor Doug Coughlin (Bryan Brown) he becomes quite the showman. He doesn’t just serve drinks – he juggles bottles, sings, dances, recites poetry – he’s the ultimate entertainer. Now, if I was a customer, I’d want my drink pronto, and would not appreciate those shenanigans. But as a third party observer, it is enthralling.

Flanaghan has big dreams of operating a successful bar franchise, while his mentor Coughlin is more interested in finding a rich woman who will pay the bills. After a falling out between the two, Flanaghan heads on down to sunny Jamaica, continuing to bartend while keeping his entrepreneurial dreams alive.

Thirsty customers are not the only thing Flanaghan finds in Jamaica however – he also finds romance. A young lady by the name of Jordan Mooney (Elisabeth Shue) quickly bonds with Flanaghan, and they appear to be on the verge of riding off into the sunset together. That is until Flanaghan finds a sugar mama of his own. But when he realizes the downfalls of being a kept man, will it be too late to win back his true love?

I cannot recommend Cocktail enough. If you have enjoyed other drinking establishment flicks such as Road House and Coyote Ugly, you will definitely get a kick out of this one. Grab yourself a copy of Cocktail, and pour yourself a Martini, a Bloody Mary or a Manhattan – but be sure to pour it with flair.

It has been over 20 years since the release of Cocktail. Cruise has gone on to make countless other memorable films, and even more headlines. From starring in the Mission Impossible trilogy, to chastising Matt Lauer about the evils of psychiatry, to imprisoning and impregnating young Katherine Holmes, you could just not escape Cruise (a fact that Holmes would surely confirm). Yet the one thing Cruise will be most remembered for is his role as Brian Flanaghan in Cocktail. When it comes time to bury Cruise (which many people tried to do about three years ago), etched on his tombstone will undoubtedly be “Tom Cruise: When he poured, he reigned.”

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