By Richard Winters
My Rating: 4 out of 10
4-Word Review: Chasing the American dream.
Brian Flanagan (Tom Cruise) is an ambitious young man looking to somehow make it big in the business world. He reads all sorts of books detailing strategies to become rich, but finds that without a college degree his options are limited. After numerous rejections he finally gets a job as a bartender where he becomes friends with Doug (Bryan Brown). The two make a good team behind the counter and get promoted to a ritzy nightclub, but they end up having a falling out and Brian starts up a bar in Jamaica as well as a romance with Jordan (Elisabeth Shue) only to have Doug reappear years later with a tempting job offer that Brian isn’t so sure he can refuse.
Although Cruise is engaging and does quite well in the role I couldn’t help but feel that he has played this same type of cocky, ambitious type of character in just about all the movies that he has been in. It would be nice to see him play some sort of timid, shy introvert once just to prove that he has some actual acting range.
Brown is good in support and I liked their contrasting ages. Shue is always beautiful and solid and Kelly Lynch who plays Doug’s wife Kerry gets points simply for looking really hot in a thong bikini.
The story has a great start and I thoroughly enjoyed the first half. I’ve worked as a bartender and felt that the film captures both the bar and club atmosphere accurately as well as the hectic demands of the position. In fact the on-location shooting is splendid both in the scenes done in New York as well as the islands and the interior and exterior backdrops give the film a nice added texture.
There are also some really amusing scenes here including Brian’s many futile job interviews and his dealings with an arrogant college professor that is played perfectly on cue by the late Paul Benedict. I had high hopes for the film and felt it had a great foundation for a modern day rags-to-riches story, which is where it should’ve stayed. Unfortunately the second half devolves too much into the romantic and relationship angle. To some degree I went with it, but it ends up taking over the whole plot making it generic and losing the nice gritty edge that it had at the beginning. The final thirty minutes are filled with a lot of over-the-top dramatic twists that turns the whole things into a corny soap opera that ultimately overshadows the good points.
My Rating: 4 out of 10
Released: July 29, 1988
Runtime: 1Hour 44Minutes
Director: Roger Donaldson
Studio: Buena Vista Pictures
Available: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video