I watched Cocktail last night. I’m not sure why I did this. I think it was a sort of morbid curiosity, since somehow I’d never seen it before. The poster sticks out in my memory – Tom Cruise and his eyebrow situation smouldering in front of a tacky pink neon sign – sort of one of those background images of puberty, but he never did anything for me, even in the eye of the hormone storm. I was busy with other stuff – probably memorising the entire screenplay of The Lost Boys, or re-reading the sleeve notes to Appetite For Destruction and sighing a lot.
It’s entirely likely that early exposure to the mysteries of whatever was writhing around in Axl Rose’s leather pants ruined me for pre-packaged pretties like Tom Cruise. Bad boys are exciting when you’re thirteen years old and let’s face it, Guns N’ Roses were quite bad. Tom Cruise in a bomber jacket was always going to look a bit vanilla when placed next to four musically talented drug problems and a borderline carcrash who was ironically the only band member who should have been on drugs but wasn’t.
As for films, I remember watching a lot of things I shouldn’t – lots of those cheap, schlocky Eighties horrors that fed off Freddy and Jason and the Evil Dead. Basically the grosser the better. We looked for 18 certificates and lots and lots of gore and sex, so I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised that a bland pretty-people romance about booze and money passed me by.
There are things about the Eighties that I look back at and I still just don’t fucking know. I don’t. I never will. Things like sunglasses with palm tree holograms on the lenses, side ponytails that make you look like you did your hair in the dark, ghastly acid washed jeans so tight that your labia only make cold, brief contact on birthdays and at Christmas, and even then that’s by e-mail and only a round-robin newsletter at that. Why? Why are they back? We just don’t know.
Cocktail is one of those Eighties movies probably in talks for a remake. It’s even more Eighties than Gordon Gekko himself – a banal, backwards Cinderella story about the pointless lives of degenerate shitheads, created for no other reason than to be consumed, en masse and without thought. It’s a McMovie. It’s monstrous. It’s a near perfect masterpiece of horrible.
Here’s how it goes. After unspecified military service which we will hear no more about, Brian (Tom Cruise) goes back to his working class neighbourhood in New York and announces his intention to be a millionaire. He plans to achieve this by putting on a sharp suit and prancing around Wall Street and Madison Avenue with a briefcase in the hope that someone will hire him.
Surprisingly this doesn’t work, because while Brian is certainly enough of a turd to work in advertising or investment banking, he hasn’t undergone the pre-requisite poo polishing process of college. This being the Eighties, he is rejected by way of a montage of people with expensive suits and enormous hair, all mouthing various permutations of ‘fuck off’.
Dejected, Brian slopes into a bar where Bryan Brown is wondering what the pink dancing fuck he’s doing in this movie.
Drinking, as it happens. Bryan Brown is pissed, even by Australian standards. Naturally, the effects of alcohol are never really covered in Cocktail, even though everyone spends much of the movie shitfaced. Nobody wakes up with the DTs or handcuffed to an orang-u-tan on a Boeing bound for Jakarta. There is no mention of beershits, pissing in the gutter, passing out in phone boxes or being thrown out of taxis because the driver doesn’t trust you to keep the nasty inside your body. Bryan Brown even does a nosedive down a set of subway stairs that would just about finish off an Exorcist and comes out unscathed and giggling. One drunk girl delicately mentions that she might be about to ‘throw up’ but there are none of those almighty drunken spews where your entire head feels like some kind of gross ornamental fountain, because you swear there is liquid exploding out of every single hole. Even out of your ears.
Anyway, Brian and Bryan hit it off wonderfully, because they are both twats. Bryan is a twat because he’s a foolish drunk who spouts home-made pseudophilosophical bullshit between cigarettes. Brian is an even bigger twat because he doesn’t realise that Bryan is a foolish drunk who spouts home-made pseudophilosophical bullshit between cigarettes. Brian is also addicted to motivational books about positive thinking, raising him up to magnificent and transcendant levels of stupidity far above poor mediocre Bryan and his tired pub-bore brain-sewage.
The Brians do a lot of hurling bottles of alcohol about and Tom Cruise gets rightly kicked out of business school for barfing really hackneyed dialogue in his instructor’s face. (“You’re only here because you can’t hack it in the real world.”) Then he demonstrates his feminist credentials by calling a waitress a bitch and when he apologises she winks at him and says it’s fine and dandy, she is a bitch. So that’s okay then.
Next thing, after doing the Hippy Hippy Shake and generally making an absolute mess behind the bar, the Brians go on to work in a yuppie bar designed to look like a panopticon prison. A pigfaced cockbite in a pin-stripe suit announces himself as the world’s first yuppie poet and gurps out some doggerel about how money is great. You can tell it’s the Eighties because nobody attempts to beat him to death.
Brian then stands up on the bar and starts doing his own poem about cocktails, demonstrating what cocktails were actually for in the Eighties – which was having silly/suggestive names so that you could say “I’m having an Orgasm!” and everyone would laugh. Oh, how they would laugh, until they retched and pounded the floor with their fists. Every time. Honestly. That’s how it was. It. Never. Got. Old. And nobody ever wanted to kill themselves, even if it was the thousandth time they’d heard the joke that evening.
God, the Eighties sucked.
Brian starts dating Cristal from Showgirls, who is beautiful and probably smells of doggie chow and lists her interests as ‘Having nice tits’, but Bryan makes a move on her to prove some kind of point because she fucked on a first date. The Brians hit each other for a bit and then Brian resigns and goes on down to Kokomo, flies down fast and then apparently takes it slow, which is surprising because three years go by in a blink at this point. Probably something to do with the Bermuda triangle. Who fucking knows.
Then Brian meets a girl named Jordan when she comes up to the bar and says her friend is passed out on the beach. The friend has been drinking champagne in the sun. Brian hurries to the rescue, which basically involves smiling and flirting with Jordan over the dessicated body of her unconscious friend. The dickhead didn’t think to bring any water with him, did he?
But again, this is a movie that exists in direct defiance of reality and the friend, now partially mummified, is packed into the back of an ambulance so that Jordan and Brian can eyefuck one another over daquiris.
Then Bryan turns up. Brian has completely forgiven Bryan for macking on Cristal Connors all those three years ago. Don’t know why. I’m guessing Bryan probably proved the point that Cristal was a whore or something, because she did it on a first date. Bryan, of course, is not a whore, even though he is now married to a filthy rich socialite looking for a novel new way to piss off Daddy.
Brian and Jordan then fall in love, by way of a montage, where they ride horses on the beach, travel on buses and wander through Jamaican towns that seem to contain very few actual Jamaicans, save one urgently skanking guy with waist length dreadlocks.
Jordan is an artist, it seems. She’s not very good. Her picture of Brian looks like the kind of lidless, slow-blinking blepharoplasty casualty that can send David Icke bouncing off the walls for weeks. When Brian complains it looks nothing like him she says it reveals his inner self. Maybe she has a point.
It doesn’t seem to bother her that his inner self looks like an even wider-eyed version of Bruce Jenner because she takes off her swimsuit and they have boring, soft-focus sex first in a waterfall and then by a campfire. Afterwards, on the beach, she says “I could stay here forever,” which was a hoary old fuck-scene cliché twenty five years ago. Actually I think it was a smidge tired back when they invented talkies, but then all of the dialogue in this film smells.
They have a little back and forth about living on the beach and she says their kids would look cute in dreadlocks. Being white, their children would not look good in dreadlocks. They’d just look like crusties and look completely unfinished without the essential juggler’s clubs and a dog on a string. Brian is obviously really worried about this possibility or realises he’s been rawdogging it this whole time and flips his wig, because it’s about this time that Brian decides to ditch Jordan and become a gigolo on a bet.
No, really. He does that.
Bryan (Who is not a whore.) says that Brian is an idiot because Jordan is obviously poor and Brian should be trying to fuck rich women so they can give him money, which is not whorish at all. Well, maybe a bit whorish. The point is, Bryan just wants to spread the whore around, or something, so he thinks Brian should get in on the whore game.
So, on a fifty dollar bet, Brian hurls himself at a rich woman named Bonnie and gets off with her. Jordan sees him leave with her and promptly leaves the resort, leaving her now rehydrated friend behind to tell Brian that she’s gone.
Instead of chasing after the woman he loves, Brian stays behind with Bonnie and fucks her in the hope that she’ll give him money to open his own bar. You see, he’s not a gross, shallow little gigolo – he’s just a shrewd investor. It’s not dirty or skeezy if you’re a man and you’re doing it in the glorious service of Capitalism.
Bonnie takes Brian back to New York and turns him into a full-fledged pet boy, buying him suits, taking him to galleries and forcing him to drink carrot juice. Brian sulks because she’s not interested in his business ideas, because obviously he’s in business, and not just a dick for hire. He eventually throws a tantrum, puts on a rather nice houndstooth suit and goes to hunt down Jordan.
Jordan dumps two plates of food over his whorish head and tells him to go fuck himself. I like Jordan, even if her drawings are rubbish.
Really rubbish. Her paintings are even worse – like if Thomas Kincade had had a Deviantart. Her ‘studio’ is full of banal Technicolor daubings against which photogenic Brian has a backdrop to confess all. Obviously this is a magical moment for Jordan.
“So…what – you went off with that Bonnie woman because she was rich?”
“No, it wasn’t like that. Bryan bet me fifty bucks that I couldn’t hustle her. And it’s like…I dunno. It was a bet.”
It’s actually like that. At this point I’m hoping Jordan says something along the lines of “Yeah. You’re a fucking child. Bye,” but instead she says “I’m pregnant!” She’s pregnant – from unprotected sex with a near stranger. In 1988.
There was no reason to carry condoms in 1988. None at all. Nuh huh. No big worldwide epidemic of a terrible incurable sexually transmitted disease or anything like that.
Turns out that Jordan is loaded, which is just as well because she’s not exactly blessed with brains to make up for her lack of talent. She’s filthy, dirty, stinking rich and only slumming it as an artist because she had a thirst for knowledge and studied sculpture at St. Martin’s College. I’m rapidly going off her.
Meanwhile, Bryan is miserable as sin because it turns out he knows absolutely fuck all about business and his bar is haemorrhaging money. I don’t know if we’re supposed to be surprised that this dopey drunk bullshitter is a self-styled authority on everything but is actually useless, but I’m guessing yes, since this film has proved mindbuggeringly stupid at every other turn.
Brian drives Bryan’s rich, exhibitionist wife home and slips her the tongue for a good few minutes before saying “No, I just can’t make it with my best friend’s old lady.” He actually had to think about this. Brian is a terrible person.
Meanwhile, Bryan has stopped haemorrhaging money and gone the more traditional route where haemorrhages are concerned. He’s slit his throat with a bottle and is face down in a huge puddle of his own blood, prompting Tom Cruise to do some Proper Acting.
Bryan’s dead and leaves a heartrending but pointless suicide note that contains nothing that advances the plot, such as it is. Brian runs back to Park Lane to tell Jordan that he loves her and is offered ten grand to piss off by her cheap, fat plutocrat father. Jordan turns up just as they’re trying to throw Brian out of the building and pulls the whole O Mio Babino Caro schtick and is cut off without a penny. Aw.
Brian and Jordan get married and Brian opens a bar. Jordan is hugely pregnant and apparently thrilled about bearing the children of a functioning alcoholic. Then Brian puts the dingleberry cherry on the whole shitcake by doing a ‘poem’ about how his son will inherit his business, but won’t if his son turns out to be a daughter, because girls can’t run bars or something.
Oh, and Jordan’s having twins. That’s the punchline to this whole sorry joke of a film. Ahahah.
Fuck. The. Eighties.