Despite a near universal critical drubbing—Pauline Kael referred to it as “a tale of cock”—Cocktail was a commercial success for star Tom Cruise and director Roger Donaldson, raking in $171,504,781 at the box office. Even now, nearly twenty-five years after its initial theatrical release, Cocktail remains a guilty pleasure for many fans (this writer among them). It’s not serious drama, but it was never meant to be; Cocktail is a fluffy story backed up by a great 80’s soundtrack. Occasionally, on a rainy Friday night, a movie like that is just what the doctor ordered.
Brian Flanagan (Cruise), a blue-collar kid from Queens, returns home from a stint in the army with dreams of making it big in Manhattan. Turning down his uncle Pat’s (Ron Dean) offer of a manual labor job in the old neighborhood, Brian finds himself turned down for every office job in the city. It seems no amount of charisma can make up for his lack of a college degree. Having enrolled in business school, Brian decides to take a part-time job tending bar for Doug Coughlin (Bryan Brown) in a night spot on the tony Upper East Side.
It’s not long before Coughlin takes a liking to the younger man, who he clearly sees as a younger version of himself. Having walked into the bar knowing nothing about drinks and bartending, he’s soon learning to juggle bar staples. It isn’t long before Brian and Doug are the hottest ticket in town having developed a Flying Karamazov Brothers routine, done to the beat of the hottest 80’s tunes.
Before long, the two are snapped up by the hottest club in town. Irresistible to women and with an ever growing ego, Brian occasionally sits atop the bar and raps poetry to adoring customers: “America, you’re devoted to every flavor I’ve got. America if you’d like to get loaded, just try a shot.” Naturally, they love it.
Of course, a partnership such as this can’t last forever. It all comes apart ostensibly over Brian’s photographer girlfriend, Coral (Gina Gershon), but really over Coughlin’s jealousy. Brian takes off for Jamaica, determined to save enough money to open his own bar. After three years there, he meets The One in the person of Jordan Mooney (Elisabeth Shue) and falls madly in love. Right on cue, Brian shows up with a rich wife in toe. Wouldn’t you know it Coughlin once again finds himself jealous of Brian and his ease with women. As a result, Doug manages to insert himself into the relation between Brian and Jordan, by involving another pretty woman in the equation.
Upset, Jordan leaves Jamaica. While there’s little question as to whether the two lovebirds will find their way back to each other, the story does take a few twists and turns (that even the most disinterested movie watcher will likely spot), before a proper happy ending is achieved.
There’s no doubt that Cocktail is little more than a paint-by-the-numbers film. Tom Cruise and his co-stars didn’t have to dig down deep into their acting bag of tricks to play their characters. No matter, Cocktail is a nonsense movie; throw it in your Blu-ray player and forget about the world for 104 minutes.
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, Disney’s 1080p transfer is more than serviceable. While the image is a bit soft, there is a nice level of detail after the opening credits roll. While I wouldn’t call the colors eye popping, they never look washed-out and stay true to the environment. There are no compression artifacts to speak of.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 track is rather subtle. Nonetheless, dialogue snd the popular soundtrack are clean and clear throughout. Viewers will enjoy hearing Little Richard’s “Tutti-Frutti”, The Beach Boys’ “Kokomo” and Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” among others.
English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles are available.
This disc contains no special features.