Stars: 2.9 of 5.
Running Time: 104 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Tom Cruise, Bryan Brown (BREAKER MORANT, THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE '05), Elisabeth Shue (THE KARATE KID, HOLLOW MAN), Laurence Luckinbill (THE BOYS IN THE BAND, STAR TREK V), Kelly Lynch (ROAD HOUSE, ROAD HOUSE, ROAD HOUSE), Gina Gershon (SHOWGIRLS, FACE/OFF). Written by Heywood Gould (THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL, co-writer of ROLLING THUNDER). Directed by Roger Donaldson (WHITE SANDS, SPECIES, THE BANK JOB, THIRTEEN DAYS, NO WAY OUT).
Tag-line: "They thought he was good. They were wrong. HE WAS THE BEST." Also, see review.
Best one-liner: "I don't care how liberated this world becomes - a man will always be judged by the amount of alcohol he can consume - and a woman will be impressed, whether she likes it or not."
I'm not sure what to say. I enjoyed this, yes. For starters, it has one of the greatest tag-lines in film history: "When he pours, he reigns." There's high-fives, an amazing 80's neon font, and a sort of visceral, perverse fascination to be had in watching Tom Cruise and Bryan Brown undulate in unison, doing the Hippy-Hippy Shake as they mix Singapore Slings and what-have-yous.
But there's a key element of revulsion: the bad boy 'counter-culture' facade is easily unmasked to reveal a basic celebration of crass yuppie ideals. And it thusly kinda turns into a ginormous, reassuring pat on the back for yuppie sell-outs.
COCKTAIL says, "Fuck money! Fuck selling out! Yeah! Choose love!," and then cranks up the volume on some Starship before resuming with a business plan for creating a chain of bars for strip malls. It LITERALLY does of all of that. Only a yuppie shithook would think of themselves as a 'Maverick' because they're devoted to trite success manuals and dream of one day franchising NYC ambiance to tools across the land. Only the worst of douchebombs would truly relate to a romantic hero who successfully employs "A guy lays down a dare, you gotta take it!" as a perfectly legitimate, forgivable excuse for cheating on your girlfriend.
"THE BAR IS OPEN!"
But still, COCKTAIL is an important cultural document. The late 80's saw several exposés of yuppie culture. Something like BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY examines the origins and driving forces, and something like John Carpenter's THEY LIVE attempts to place it in perspective through the lens of outrageous sci-fi action and social commentary. But COCKTAIL exists as the flip side- the dark side- of that coin... almost a yuppie Bible. It's also a lot of fun. But for sheer vapidity, I'd rather be watching CAPTAIN RON, and for vapidity with subsequent meaning, I'd rather be watching AMERICAN GIGOLO. So there you have it. Not quite three stars.