Joel had all the normal teenage fantasies...cars, girls, money. Then his parents left for a week, and all his fantasies came true.
What happened to Tom Cruise? Did he give a terrible performance? Was he in a horrible film that bombed? Not really, so why is it then that everyone hates the poor little guy? Actors are entertainers. We like them based on their performances in film and television, however this hasnít been the case of recent. Our entertainerís are under the public eye more than ever and scrutinized for every little movement they make. Their religious beliefs, who they date, and their political views are all factors that contribute to their likeness more than the performances they give. This isnít right people. The great performances, the timeless art these entertainers have been putting on the screen for decades, this is what the basis for judgment should be.
Tom Cruise gives a performance in Risky Business that shows why he would go onto become the superstar known as Tom Cruise. His Joel Goodson is a high school student who lives with his two wealthy parents in the North Shore area of Chicago. He is the only child, which means he gets too much attention from his parents as theyíre constantly applying pressure on him, including his fatherís desire for him to attend Princeton University.
Joelís parents go on a trip to visit an aunt, leaving Joel alone to watch the home. Joel takes advantage of this, enjoying a rum and coke with his TV dinner, with quite a bit more rum than coke. He cranks Bob Segerís Old Time Rock & Roll and dances around in his underwear, which is still a fun scene to watch today. He also races his dadís Porsche 928, even though he was told explicitly not to drive his fatherís prized possession. Eventually Joel ends up contacting a call girl. This need for sexual interaction comes from curiosity as well as pressure from Joelís friends, and high school in general. Lana, played be Rebecca De Mornay arrives at Joelís house where the two share a passionate night together. In the morning Joel doesnít have enough cash to pay Lana, so he leaves to get more money. When he returns, Lana is gone, and so is Joelís motherís expensive Steuben glass egg.
Joel and his friend Miles find themselves at the Drake Hotel, looking for Lana. Once they find her theyíre also introduced to her pimp, Guido. Guido flashes a pistol, which leads to a car chase. Once home, Joel allows Lana to stay for a while. Lana sees the potential business that can be made between her friends and Joelís, but Joel puts down the idea.
After a night of getting stoned, Joel ends up with his fatherís Porsche in the ocean. Desperate to repair the damages to the car, Joel agrees to Lanaís business proposition and the two stage a party, turning Joelís house into a brothel for an evening. The party is a success. A conflict with Guido threatens to alarm Joelís parents of whatís been happening at the house, but Joel handles it. All is well, Joel is dating Lana, and he gets accepted to Princeton.
Surrounded by numerous teenage sex films in the 80ís, Risky Business stands out from them and continues to be a part of pop culture because it is a real film. Writer/Director Paul Brickman approaches the life of a male teenager with honesty. Unlike most films with stereotypical high school characters, Joel is real; heís the type of guy that does exist in high schools across the country even to this day. The curiosity of sex, pure naivety, and eagerness to escape the clutches of parents are all handled expertly here. In fact all the characters feel real. Brickmanís script is brought to life by a group of great actors. Everyone brings authenticity to their roles, and besides Cruise, Joe Pantoliano is wonderful as Guido the pimp.
This is Cruiseís movie though. As a teenager so eager to grow up, we share in his excitement and cringe when anything goes wrong. The star-is-born moment happens during the party scene at his house when a Princeton employee is interviewing him for admission. The interview is plagued with interruptions and isnít going well. Joel realizes this, grabs his sunglasses from his pocket, lights a cigarette, and then opens his mouth to reveal that trademark smile. Just like that, a star is born. A moody soundtrack accompanies Bruce Surtees dreamy cinematography to create this cold, shallow atmospheric town, where money is the currency for respect and power. The children have no desire to make any impact on the world, let alone do something theyíre passionate for; they simply seek the most golden path, that which is filled with the most dollar signs. The movie clearly has a message to promote, with these teenagers cashing in their bonds to have sex with prostitutes and loose their virginity. Based solely on its face value, the film is a fun, mature, romp, but offers much more depth than meets the eye. The film is an 80ís staple. One of the best high school films you can watch, and the launching pad for Tom Cruise.