Risky Business (1983)

Description   [from Freebase]

Risky Business is a 1983 American teen comedy-drama film written by Paul Brickman in his directorial debut. It stars Tom Cruise and Rebecca De Mornay. The hit film launched Cruise to stardom. Joel Goodson (Tom Cruise) is a high school student who lives with his wealthy parents in the North Shore area of suburban Chicago. His father wants him to attend Princeton University, his alma mater, so Joel participates in Future Enterprisers, an extracurricular activity in which students work in teams to create small businesses. When his parents go away on a trip, Joel's friend, Miles (Curtis Armstrong), convinces him to take advantage of his newfound freedom to have some fun. ("Opportunity makes your future, Joel.") On the first night, he raids the liquor cabinet, plays the stereo loudly, and dances around the living room in his underwear, socks and pink dress shirt to "Old Time Rock and Roll". The following day, Miles calls a call girl named Jackie on Joel's behalf. Jackie (Bruce A. Young) turns out to be a tall, masculine transvestite.


I recently caught Risky Business on cable for the umpteenth time, and realized that the roots of American Beauty can all be found in this groundbreaking film. Think of Tom Cruises’s Joel as a Lester Burnham before he lost his wide-eyed youth. You can see a glimmer of it in Joel’s existential monologue (‘It seems to me that if there were any logic to our language, trust would be a four letter word.’), and he’s certainly got the devil-may-care attitude locked up.

Case in point is the plot itself — when Joel wrecks his parents’ Porsche, he turns their house into a one-night-only brothel to raise the money to pay for the damages. Even the soundtrack has the same feeling to it. Of course, Cruise owns this movie — with some excellent one-liners and a certain renowned dance move through the living room — but what of the rest of the cast? Joe Pantoliano and Rebecca De Mornay have struggled to find some measure of success, but writer/director Paul Brickman is the film’s most curious alumnus. In nearly 20 years, he’s written a smattering of scripts and has directed only one additional picture, 1990’s Men Don’t Leave. Paul, didn’t you learn anything from your man Joel?

The new 25th Anniversary DVD includes commentary from the principals, a new retrospective, extensive screen test footage, and Brickman’s cut of the film’s final scene (though it’s not terribly different).

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