"Cocktail" by Roger Donaldson: a review
The movie Cocktail came out in 1988. It was a highly grossing film based on the lives of two bartenders. Tom Cruise had the starring role as Brian Flanagan. Bryan Brown co-starred as Doug Coughlin and Elisabeth Shue stars as the main love interest for Tom Cruise. Tom Cruise is excellent as the lovable bartender and quickly makes us root for him throughout the movie.
When the movie begins we see Brian Flanagan working part time as a bartender while going to school for a business degree trying to generate leads whenever he can. He wants to be a successful businessman. He soon meets up with Doug Coughlin who is more experienced as a bartender and is willing to mentor the young Brian Flanagan and teach him the ropes. The two gentlemen become fast friends and soon start sharing all their work and free time together.
Doug Coughlin teaches Brian how to pour short drinks and not have anyone notice. It takes lots of practice on Brian’s part but he quickly becomes adept at pouring drinks. Their bartending act becomes increasingly popular and they soon start working at one of the most well known clubs in the city.
As their popularity grows and grows they start trying to outdo each other and daring each other to take risks. Doug convinces Brian to sleep around and in turn he loses his girlfriend. Brian becomes upset and moves to Jamaica to get away from everything. He becomes a successful beach bartender.
The movie follows him as he meets Elisabeth Shue’s character and they fall in love on the beach. Doug comes back in the picture and soon all are back in New York City. The rest of the movie follows the drama that ensues as Brian tries to win her back and Doug’s world starts to fall apart.
One of the hits of 1988, Cocktail was a virtual fix for the legions of females around the globe who were panting for a doze of the Cruise charm. Obviously, many had been swept off their feet by Tom Cruise in Top Gun or any of the earlier movies he had made. Paired with Elisabeth Shue as his leading lady, Cruise stars as an ambitious business student moonlighting as a bartender, hence the amplification of bartending glamour and glitz since that time.
The film is a series of clichés and will have discriminating movie watchers groaning or yawning, depending on their disposition. Bartender loves the artist, but goes for the alpha female business executive type on a dare. The artist chick discovers this betrayal and is naturally mad. Bartender realizes the huge mistake he made and the rest is pure cliché.
Tom Cruise is charming in the movie and has yet to be tainted by the craziness of his later life. Elisabeth Shue is adequate, but is not as pretty as the male lead. Flair bartending is fun to watch and many suspect that the main entertainment value comes from that. The soundtrack is truly enjoyable and the Beach Boys’ Kokomo lends the perfect air of Caribbean bliss.
Overall, Cocktail is not the type of movie to make it to the list of potential classics. It is, however, the kind of movie that makes women in their ‘30s wax nostalgic about their crush on Tom Cruise. It is not a movie to have film critics wildly applauding, but it is something on which one can look back fondly and sigh for girlhood long gone.
From the movie: Cocktail
“A Bartender is the aristocrat of the working class.”
Bryan Brown - Doug Coughlin
From the movie: Cocktail
“Cocktails and Dreams....I see it in pink neon. Blink, blink, pinkety blink.”
Bryan Brown - Doug Coughling