5.8/10
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105 user 53 critic

Cocktail (1988)

A talented New York City bartender takes a job at a bar in Jamaica and falls in love.

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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 6 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Bonnie
...
Mr. Mooney
...
Kerry Coughlin
...
Coral
...
Uncle Pat
Robert Donley ...
Eddie
...
Eleanor
...
Dulcy (as Andrea Morse)
...
Soldier
...
Soldier (as Justin Louis)
John Graham ...
Soldier
Richard Thorn ...
Soldier
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Storyline

After leaving the Army, Brian Flanagan tries to get a marketing job in New York City. But without a college degree, this is not possible. He then decides to start studying for a business degree at the local City College and gets a part time job as a bartender. He realizes that it's not easy but his new boss Douglas Coughlin teaches him the secrets of the bar trade and they become the most famous bartenders in town. Both Brian and Doug want their own top class cocktail bars someday and Brian's Cocktail Bar is to be called 'Cocktails and Dreams'. In order to get the necessary money to open it, Brian travels to Jamaica to work as a bartender at a resort Tiki Bar, and the pay is good. There he meets Jordan Mooney, a young and pretty, up and coming American artist on vacation with her girlfriend from New York City, staying at the Island resort. Jordan and Brian spend some quality time together and fall in love. But Brian takes a dare from his old buddy, Doug Coughlin to sleep with an older... Written by Joshua Jaworsky <jaworsky@gmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

They thought he was good, they were wrong... he was the best See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Release Date:

29 July 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Bartender  »

Box Office

Budget:

$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$11,789,466 (USA) (31 July 1988)

Gross:

$78,222,753 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Elisabeth Shue's brother Andrew Shue can be seen briefly in the background during the wedding reception scene. See more »

Goofs

Brian's hair changes color from almost black to pale brown as the film progresses. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Brian: Come on, put it to the floor! Come on! Let's go!
See more »

Connections

Featured in Rewind This! (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Oh, I Love You So
Written, Performed, and Produced by Preston Smith
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User Reviews

 
A wonderful story and a fantastic film
25 August 2002 | by (San Diego, California) – See all my reviews

As far as entertaining storytelling goes, Cocktail is an almost perfect film. Here is an example of compelling dialogue, magnificent urban cinematography, superb acting, and thoughtful editing combining to present us with a very lucid portrayal of one man's coming to terms with the reality of dreams and ambitions in our world.

Cocktail is ultimately the story of Bryan Flanagan's (Tom Cruise) reaction as he doggedly pursues his ambition of getting rich, only to learn that his dream was never really worth pursuing. A new arrival in New York City, the "greatest concentration of wealth in the world," young Flanagan immediately seeks to establish himself in the business world. Without an education or practical experience, however, he suffers one humiliation after another while job-seeking. Eventually he realizes that the business world demands an education, so he enrolls in college and settles for a job as a bartender to pay the bills. But then something extraordinary happens: he discovers that he actually enjoys bartending more than he enjoys college, and that he is challenged more by the mentorship of bartender Doug Coughlin (Bryan Brown) than he is by the tutelage of his bitter, sadistic college professors. Together, Coughlin and Flanagan develop the bartending equivalent of a synchronized swimming routine that delivers them both the recognition and money (in tips) they crave.

At this point, Cocktail could easily have degraded into one long, hedonistic party, since the bartending action is certainly entertaining. But instead, a falling out between Flanagan and Coughlin suddenly shifts both the tone and the location of the film as Flanagan moves to the Caribbean to save money for starting his own business.

In Jamaica he meets Jordan (Elizabeth Shue), a lovely, down-to-earth artist, and for the first time in the film Flanagan truly falls in love with a woman he takes to bed, and he seems genuinely surprised to realize that love has been a more worthy goal than sex all along. With the re-introduction of Coughlin's bad influence, however, Flanagan ignores what he has learned about love and pursues a wealthy benefactor, Bonnie (Lisa Banes), breaking Jordan's heart in the process.

Returning to New York City with Bonnie, which should have been the break he has been waiting for, Flanagan instead suffers yet more humiliation in the power game and finally comes to realize that he'd already achieved the success that makes life worth living when he was with Jordan. So he burns his bridges with Bonnie, and the remainder of the film focuses on his new ambition, to win back the trust of the woman he loves.

This is a great story, one that requires the viewer to really challenge Americans' preoccupation with money and power. Yet the beauty of Cocktail is the smooth, realistic way in which this story is presented. For example, few filmmakers today would risk losing the audience's attention by focusing at length on Jordan's silent reaction to Flanagan's betrayal, yet these few silent moments on a darkened beach say more than any amount of dialogue ever could--but only if you're listening!

Cocktail is a wonderful story of love, ambition, opportunity, humiliation, frustration, sacrifice, the absurdity of business and academia, and the definitions of "success" and "failure," sprinkled with real-world humor that is noticeably different--and funnier--than mere comedy. It is also an exciting and fun film to watch, a "feel-good" movie of the highest caliber. I take my hat off to everyone who worked on this fine film.


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