Thursday, July 31, 2008

RISKY BUSINESS - maybe you just had to be there...

A friend of mine read my recent review of THE GIRL NEXT DOOR and was shocked that I didn't criticise it for biting so heavily on the early 80s teen classic movie, RISKY BUSINESS. I explained to him that I didn't mention it because I'd never seen it. I may not be in my first flush of youth, but I'm not THAT old! So, mainly to stop him from whining, we wound up watching it. Now, I didn't have a bad time with this movie, but I really didn't get what the big deal was. Maybe it's because I was never a horny frustrated teenage boy? Maybe it's because I didn't watch it as a teenager? Whatever. This movie just didn't do it for me.

The flick was written and directed by Paul Brickman, who seems not to have a done great deal in cinema thereafter. It opens with a very young, and yet not young enough to really pull off the role of a schoolkid, Tom Cruise. He lives in a nice house in a wealthy suburb and his parents want him to go to a good school. He's under pressure and, despite the urging of his best friend, unable to just say "fuck you". Aforementioned friend hires him a hooker and, after a small hiccup, he ends up getting it together with Rebecca de Mornay. As with THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, this then leads to entanglements with a mean pimp/manager (Joe Pantoliano). The hooker realises that the combination of rich, horny boys; hookers; and an empty house could be a money spinner. Tom Cruise goes from geek to Wayfarer-wearing cool dude in a matter of minutes. The dramatic tension, such as it is, lies in discovering whether the kid will get away with it. Will his parents come home to find their house wrecked? Will the Princeton admissions tutor be horrified by this Young Enterpriser's business? And is Lana really his girlfriend, or just using him?

Tom Cruise is charming, the 80s outfits are hysterical, and Paul Brickman gives Rebecca de Mornay some acid one-liners that she delivers with brilliant dead-pan e.g. "Go to school, Joel. Learn something." The movie works as a decent enough, slighly absurd teen comedy. And, after all, wouldn't everyone like to have the balls to say "fuck you!" once in a while? But, like I said, I didn't get the big deal about the movie. It has nothing like the angst or wit of a John Hughes flick.

RISKY BUSINESS was originally released in 1983 and is available on DVD and on iTunes.

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