Tom Cruise is electrifying as Brian Flanagan, a young, confident, and ambitious bartender who, with the help of a seasoned pro (Bryan Brown -- GORILLAS IN THE MIST, F/X 2), becomes the toast of Manhattan's Upper East Side. But when he moves to Jamaica and meets an independent artist (Elisabeth Shue -- ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING, HOLLOW MAN), their vivid romance brings a new perspective to the self-centered bartender's life. Sizzling with high-powered performances and a #1 hit soundtrack, the box office blockbuster COCKTAIL has it all!
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This 1988 effort at creating a milestone coming-of-age story with the impact of The Graduate is commendable, but the results are mostly shaky and garish. Tom Cruise plays an ambitious young man who arrives in New York City and becomes known as a flashy bartender in a hot club. After falling for Elisabeth Shue's girl-next-door character, however, his desire for success causes him to travel down a more selfish path with an older woman. The film, directed by Roger Donaldson (Bounty), is built on entirely on appearances (Cruise's star charisma) and flash (the way Cruise and his character's bartending mentor, played by Bryan Brown, toss bottles of booze around). The more interesting and underlying themes, however, particularly the hero's obvious Oedipal dilemmas, are lost beneath this window dressing, as if everyone involved was afraid to commit to the story's intrinsic value. Cruise fans might want to take a look at this, but otherwise there isn't much to recommend it. --Tom Keogh
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