When a sports agent has a moral epiphany and is fired for expressing it, he decides to put his new philosophy to the test as an independent agent with the only athlete who stays with him and his former secretary.
Cuba Gooding Jr.,
As students at the United States Navy's elite fighter weapons school compete to be best in the class, one daring young pilot learns a few things from a civilian instructor that are not taught in the classroom.
With dreams of becoming a successful businessman and even a millionaire, the ex-military man, Brian Flanagan, waits for his big break while serving drinks at a New York City tavern and studying for his degree. However, when the charismatic cynic and veteran bartender, Doug Coughlin, becomes the ambitious Brian's sage mentor, their chemistry combined with the flamboyant tricks behind the bar will soon yield fame and money until they decide to split ways. Eventually, as Flanagan struggles to raise money in Jamaica to open his own bar someday, he will fall hard for the striving waitress Jordan Mooney, while a wealthy fashion executive wants to take him back to Manhattan to live with her. Is there a future between Brian and Jordan?Written by
Don't Worry, Be Happy
Written and Performed by Bobby McFerrin
Published by Probnoblem Music, BMI
Produced by Linda Goldstein
Courtesy of EMI-Manhattan Records, A division of Capitol Records, Inc. See more »
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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