Throwback Thirty – Cocktail (1988)

film, films, reviews, TBT

cocktail-movie-poster-1988-10201909745_star_rating_system_1_and_a_half_stars I was absolutely sure that I’d seen all of Cocktail before. It’s one of those infamous Tom Cruise films that I guess I just know so much about that I believe I’ve watched it. I’ve seen the beginning, I’m sure. I know that somewhere along the line I’ve sat and watched Tom Cruise chuck bottles of booze around. But, when rewatching this week, I realised that there is a whole lot more to this film than I’d remembered. I guess I just never finished it. It’s like The Sound of Music. Throughout my childhood, I don’t think I’d ever got beyond the Edelweiss scene. That means for a large part of my life I’d never seen the Von Trapp family hike over the mountain to freedom. It does leave me wondering how many other films I claim to have seen despite never making it to the end credits. Have I ever actually watched any film? Is my memory just playing tricks on me? Well, whatever the case is, I can now happily say that I watched an entire film about Tom Cruise pretending to be a sexy barman who can mix drinks with style. It’s not like it’s made my life better but it’s a fact.


Cocktail is a really odd film. It starts with Brian Flanagan (Tom Cruise) taking a job as a bartender so he can work himself through a business degree. Under the tutelage of his fellow barman Doug Coughlin (Bryan Brown), Brian learns more about making cocktails and the techniques to win both tips and the ladies. Their double-act quickly makes them famous in the New York bar scene and they set up shop in a trendy night club. Inevitably, the team is torn apart thanks to a woman and the pair separate. Brian movies to Jamaica where he meets Jordan (Elisabeth Shue), a struggling artist and waitress. The pair fall for each other until Doug turns up unannounced and fucks everything up again. Can Brian make the fortune he so desires and keep the girl of his dreams?

It’s really difficult to sum up the plot of this film because, really, nothing really happens. I mean, yes, there’s the overarching plot of Brian trying to make a million but it’s all just a bunch of random plots stitched together. The film felt really long to watch but basically nothing happens the entire time. It’s a really weird experience. The opening is kind of fun as Brian learns more about making cocktails and the partnership with Doug is interesting enough. Then it just falls away to nothing. It’s an incredibly shallow film that relies on terrible romantic-comedy staples that don’t really excite any real interest. I’m not even a real Tom Cruise fan but I felt bad for him during this. He didn’t deserve to be in a film this bad. He might not be my idea of a good actor but he’s better than this drivel.

It’s such a tonally weird film too. All of the important and dramatic narrative moments are so underplayed that they don’t register. Yet something utterly insignificant is given so much attention. It’s like whoever was making this film just had no clue what point they were trying to make. It’s not just that this film is so by-the-book that it’s really pointless but that it’s just boring. It’s an empty shell. It’s like those disappointing Easter Eggs that have nothing extra inside. You just want more chocolate but there’s nothing. Even if Cocktail had just been nearly 2 hours of Doug and Brian working the bar together that would have been better. It would have been repetitive but it would have been more fun. The final film is almost worthless.

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