I would never say that Risky Business ranks up there with classics such as Casablanca, Bonnie and Clyde or even Rocky. However, the film that is largely credited with making Tom Cruise a star deserve a place in film history, for so vividly capturing a slice of early 1980’s culture. It was 1983, Ronald Reagan was in the White House, America was feeling pretty good about itself and AIDS was still not widely recognized. So, when a young Cruise donned those white crew socks, a pink oxford and his underwear and slid across the floor to Bob Seger’s classic, “Old Time Rock And Roll,” a scene played out in houses across the world, was born.

risky business1.jpgJoel Goodson (Tom Cruise) is your typical senior in High School. His parents (Nicholas Pryor and Janet Caroll) are pressuring him to get good grades; good SAT scores, and apply to good schools like Princeton. He is the perfect example of the boy who every mother wants to see with their daughter. However, when his parents go away on vacation, everything changes. His good buddy Miles (played by Curtis Armstrong–best known for his role as “Booger” in the Revenge of the Nerds movies) convinces him that when the cat is away, the mice will play. Joel is shy and perhaps even somewhat prude, so he really “goes wild” and takes his dad’s Porsche for a spin. Miles recognizes this as a good first step but decides to kick it up a notch by ordering a prostitute for Joel against his protests.
When “Jackie” arrives (Bruce A. Young) she turns out to be a transvestite; not exactly Joel’s idea for the perfect first time. However, Jackie gives him the number for a woman named Lana, whom she assures Joel is the kind of girl he’s looking for. Lana (played by a twenty-one year old Rebecca De Mornay) gives Joel a night of passion and even stays for breakfast to the tune of $300. In order to pay her, Joel leaves the house to cash a $500 savings bond from his grandmother. On his return, Joel realizes that Lana has taken his mother’s very expensive crystal egg as payment.
rebecca_de_mornay2.jpgPredictably, things get worse from there. Guido (Joe Pantoliano) ends up angrily chasing Joel, Lana and Miles through the streets of Chicago brandishing a gun. Behind the wheel of his father’s Porsche, Joel is able to lose him after a fairly long adventure. Shortly after that, Joel inadvertently turns his father’s car into a submarine, after the car falls off the pier and plunges into Lake Michigan. And what’s the only way to pay for the damage? You guessed it; hook all of Joel’s rich, young, horny friends with Lana’s “lady” friends to make enough money to pay off the angry pimp and fix the Porsche. In the middle of the “sex for money” party, the head of Princeton admissions (Richard Masur) shows up for an interview with Joel. Luckily for Joel, “Mr. Princeton” has some fun at the party as well. The next morning, Joel is feeling really good about himself and counting his take, when he realizes his house has been robbed of its contents. Joel is forced to buy back the contents of his house from Guido and gets everything put back into place minutes before his parents arrive at home. To top it off, Joel’s proud father gets a call from the Princeton admissions guy saying, “Princeton could use a guy like Joel.”
Risky Business is a fun and enjoyable teenage sex comedy but it does have some predictable flaws. Like 1990’s Pretty Woman, Rebecca DeMornay’s Lana, is a prostitute that looks more like a college student than a typical sex worker. At the end of the film, she tells Joel she would like to spend more time with him. Presumably, the two have built a relationship that is going to move beyond the “pay for play” arrangement that was in place before. Of course, this isn’t reality, but a Hollywood ending. That said, enjoy Risky Business (25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) for what it is and dance around in your underwear.
risky business2.jpgRisky Business has been released several times on standard DVD, but this is the best transfer I’ve seen. Presented in a matted widescreen format, the colors are bright and vivid. The film itself is devoid of graininess, with a few brief moments of cloudiness throughout.
The audio has been remastered and is presented in Dolby Digital Surround Sound 5.1. The sound is crisp and clear, enhancing one of the better soundtracks of the early 1980’s. Of course there’s Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock And Roll,” but the soundtrack also features songs by Muddy Waters, Jeff Beck, Prince, Journey, Phil Collins and Tangerine Dream.
The Risky Business (25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) has quite a few special features:
Audio Commentary by Tom Cruise, Director/Screenwriter Paul Brickman and Producer Jon Avnet – The threesome discuss shooting different scenes and let the audience in on some things that were going on behind the scenes at various times. While this isn’t one of the best commentaries I’ve heard, the guys do offer up a few interesting tidbits.
The Dream is Always the Same: The Story of Risky Business (29:27) – All new documentary featuring Tom Cruise, Rebecca De Mornay, Curtis Armstrong, Bronson Pinchot and other cast and crew discussing the origins and the making of the film. This documentary was very interesting and sheds some light on the process of how Risky Business got made.
Original Screen Tests With Tom Cruise and Rebecca De Mornay (14:33) – These should be included on DVD releases more often, it’s interesting to see a young Cruise and De Mornay testing for their roles. New interviews with cast and crew add their thoughts about the tests.
Director’s Cut of the Final Scene from Risky Business (7:24) – With an introduction from Director Paul Brinkman, you can decide if this ending would have served the film better.
Theatrical Trailer (1:27)