Cocktail is a 1988 romantic drama film released by Touchstone Pictures. Directed by Roger Donaldson, the film is based on the book of the same name by Heywood Gould, who also wrote the screenplay. It stars Tom Cruise as a talented and ambitious bartender who aspires to working in business and finds love with Elisabeth Shue while working at a bar in Jamaica. The original music score was composed by Maurice Jarre.
After leaving the United States Army and moving to New York City, Brian Flanagan (Tom Cruise) gets a part-time job as a bartender at night while studying for a business degree (which he needs to get a job in marketing). At first, Brian is a terrible bartender, revealed in a montage of his screw ups. Over time, he learns the tricks of the trade including flairing from his boss/mentor Doug Coughlin (Bryan Brown). Brian and Doug soon become very close; Doug readily assumes a mentor role over the young and naive Brian, and rains advice and opinions down upon him. His advice takes a familiar structure as he usually begins most of them with "Coughlin's Law". An example of his expert advice, which actually turns out to be quite poignant, is "Coughlin's Law: Drink or be gone!" Other pearls include: "Bury the dead, they stink up the joint." and "Anything else is always something better."
While Brian has high personal aspirations, Doug is leery of the notion of starting their own bar together. Doug intends to call his bar "Cocktails & Dreams".
Eventually, Brian and Doug's bar-tending act becomes popular and they end up working at a trendy nightclub catering to New York City's wealthy and elite, the type of establishment where yuppies spout poetry from the top of the rafters for all patrons to hear. As their popularity rises, Brian becomes the focus of attention from a sultry brunette named Coral (Gina Gershon). Quickly, they elevate their friendship into a wild sexual relationship. During a free throw shooting competition where Brian hits five free throws in a row, Doug bets him Coral will leave him by week's end, essentially doubting there is anything special about the seemingly perfect relationship shared between the two. Unbeknownst to Brian, Doug lies to Coral about secrets being shared by Brian about her, and secures his bet having sex with Coral. Brian is very upset and fights with Doug at work, essentially ending his informal partnership with Doug.
Brian, taking advice from his former girlfriend, takes a job in Jamaica as a bartender to raise money for his own place. He finds a romantic partner in Jordan Mooney (Elisabeth Shue). Jordan is an aspiring artist and waitress in New York City. She and Brian spend romantic times together, playing in the water, before making passionate love on the beach by a campfire. Prior to this however, Doug has shown up in Jamaica, now married to Kerry (Kelly Lynch), a wealthy woman who openly flirts with other men and wears Tarzan-like bikinis. Doug quickly asserts himself and bets Brian to be the first to sleep with a barfly named Bonnie (Lisa Banes), a wealthy older woman. Jordan catches Brian without being seen and, devastated, takes an overnight plane back home.
With Jordan flying back to New York City, Brian decides to "upstage" Doug and return to Manhattan with the cougar-esque Bonnie under the auspices that he will be placed high up in her company due to their romantic attachment. Brian becomes impatient as the pay-off is too slow. They have a blow-up during an art exhibition where Brian gets into a fight with the artist. As they cut ties, Brian, displaying wisdom one can only assume has been gleaned from his former mentor, states: "All things end badly. Otherwise they wouldn't end!"
Brian then seeks out Jordan. Much to his surprise, Brian learns that she is pregnant with his child. He embarks on a journey to win over the independent Jordan and prove to her that, despite being just a lowly bartender, he would make a worthy father. While pursuing Jordan, Brian also learns that her family is very wealthy, and he goes to her parents' Park Avenue penthouse to speak with Jordan. Unhappy with the situation, Jordan's father, Richard (Laurence Luckinbill), attempts to buy Brian off. Brian is forced to decide between the money offered which would surely help him get his bar started versus a life with Jordan and his child; Brian refuses the money. Jordan keeps her distance, not wanting to be hurt again.
Brian meets up with Doug. Despite the outward appearance of wealth, Doug confides that his wife's money is nearly gone, lost in the commodities market. Doug is despondent, unwilling to confess to his bride the precarious position they are in; Brian is completely shocked. Later on, Kerry makes Brian take her home when Doug is too drunk to do so, and forces him to walk her to her apartment. She tells him that he is the only person Doug respects and wants to discuss with him Doug's problems. However once inside, she attempts to seduce him by kissing him but Brian refuses out of respect for his friendship with Doug. Kerry gets angry at being rejected and reveals that she cannot endure sexual monogamy for the rest of her life. Brian then leaves with Kerry calling him a coward. Brian goes to check on Doug in his yacht, and discovers he has committed suicide by slashing his throat with a broken bottle of Remy Martin Louis XIII / Baccarat crystal glass. After the funeral, Kerry sends Brian a letter left for him by Doug, which is revealed to be Doug's suicide note in which he explains why he did what he did. Brian cries after reading the letter, realizing that Doug killed himself because he realized that his life was a sham.
Now reeling from the misfortune of the stiff-arm from Jordan and losing his best friend to suicide, he goes to Richard's home (where Jordan is staying) and begs her forgiveness. He further promises to take good care of her and their unborn child. Brian has a brief scuffle with Richard's staff, then takes the willing Jordan by the hand and heads for the door. They leave together, finally, as a couple and future parents. Richard pledges not to lend a dime to the fledgling couple. Using the advice of the other mentor in his life, his Uncle Pat (Ron Dean), Brian is able to finally achieve his lifelong goal, he opens a neighborhood bar called "Flanagan's Cocktails & Dreams". Brian and Jordan have their wedding reception at the new bar while Jordan is visibly pregnant. Just before the credits roll, Jordan reveals she is pregnant with twins. Brian offers free drinks to celebrate, much to his Uncle Pat's chagrin.
Box office and reception
Cocktail was a financial success, earning $78.2 million at the box office, and $93.3 million globally to a total of $171.5 million worldwide.
Despite the film's success, the film received mostly negative reviews from critics and won two Golden Raspberry Awards for Worst Picture and Worst Screenplay while Tom Cruise was nominated as Worst Actor and Roger Donaldson as Worst Director. Rotten Tomatoes gives Cocktail a 9% "rotten" rating based on 22 reviews.
- "Wild Again" – Starship (formerly 'Jefferson Starship')
- "Powerful Stuff" – The Fabulous Thunderbirds
- "Since When" – Robbie Nevil
- "Don't Worry, Be Happy" – Bobby McFerrin
- "Hippy Hippy Shake" – The Georgia Satellites
- "Kokomo" – The Beach Boys
- "Rave On!" – John Cougar Mellencamp
- "All Shook Up" – Ry Cooder
- "Oh, I Love You So" – Preston Smith
- "Tutti Frutti" – Little Richard
- "Addicted to Love" – Robert Palmer
- "Shelter of Your Love" – Jimmy Cliff
- "This Magic Moment" – Leroy Gibbons
- "When Will I Be Loved" – The Everly Brothers (uncredited)
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