Not That Bad, Despite Its Razzie | “Cocktail” 1988 Movie Review

Oscar season is upon. And while many people have raised criticisms about Greta Gerwig and Jennifer Lopez (which I agree with), I was more drawn to the inverse and curious about the Razzies. I like to give a look at the worst Hollywood has given us and appreciated the YouTube channel, Cinematic Excrement, which looks at 1988’s “Cocktail” and compared it to other Razzie nominees from that year.

Tom Cruise plays Brian Flanagan, a young man who just got out of the army and now looks to make it big in New York City. But after being turned down by every big job he can land an interview for, he takes a job working for Doug Coughlin (Bryan Brown), a bartender at a T.G.I. Fridays. Despite a rocky start, Brian becomes a natural bartender and plans to open his own place with Coughlin. But after a spat involving a girl Brian had fallen for, the two split and Brian goes to work in Jamaica, there he not only is reunited with Coughlin, but falls in love with Jordan (Elisabeth Shue), an aspiring artist and questions what he wants in life.

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The only thing that has changed about Tom Cruise in 32 years is his hair.

As bad movies go, the cast isn’t that bad. Tom Cruise has a charm that takes charge when as the rising bartender who grows into the trade. Bryan Brown takes as much of the show, if not more, than Cruise. He plays Coughlin as the Obi Wan to Bryan’s Luke, but highlights more of the dirtier tricks in the bartending industry. Every time Brown is on the screen, he has this gruff wit that makes the scenes more engaging. He encapsulates the “characters you love to hate” archetype.

There are several problems with the story. The movie has a severe case of sagging middle syndrome. Once the movie goes to Jamaica, it really started to drag and left me wishing Brian could go back to fancy bottle flipping. “Cocktail” feels like it wants to be a blue-collar version of “Wall Street.” All the pieces are there; plucky novice who’s taken in by a notorious expert in the given field, as well as where the novice finds success, but is forced to do dubious things. But the second act weighs down the story and makes it hard to go without fast forwarding it.

Watching this movie, I couldn’t see why it garnered the Worst Picture win. While the second act wasn’t as immersive as and shows where the movie declines, the cast compensates by giving solid performances that make the movie shine. If you’re looking for a movie to watch while having a drink with friends, this definitely makes for a solid choice.

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