Friday, July 07, 2006

Cocktails and Very Bad Dreams

When you do not feel like going out, you sometimes find yourself watching terrible movies for no explicable reason. For instance, the other night I found myself viewing Cocktail. I do not understand why such a script was even given the greenlight in 1988, nor do I grasp the subsequent popularity of such a film. It’s about a bartender who tosses bottles and longs to open a chain of watering holes. It could be a docudrama on the person who started Rock Bottom or Elephant & Castle for all I know. I’ll credit the film with expanding Jamaica’s tourist industry and being one of the few films I’ve ever seen in which the female lead paraded around in a simple one-piece swimsuit and concealed her thicker-than-average-starlet thighs with a random sarong or pleated Bermuda shorts. But that's it.

(What’s funny is that one of my nieces was named after Elizabeth Shue’s character. When my sister saw Cocktail, she decided she liked the name Jordan so much that it would be what she would name her daughter. And thus my fifteen-year-old niece was given her name because my sister really liked Cocktail. Of course, Jordan is a good name. It’s not like she wanted to call her Kokomo.)

This movie is ridiculous on so many levels. If I’m at a bar, do I want to see the bartender flipping bottles? No. I want them to get me my drink. The whole “barman poet” thing is laughable, too. Mainly because the only line I have always fully remembered is “to schnapps made with beach…to sex on the beach.” I get it. It rhymes. But the last time I ordered a Sex on the Beach was April 1995 at a bar on South Padre Island. I was 17. When I was a bartender, I was never asked to make a Sex on the Beach. Nor did I feel my customers wanted me to stand atop the bar and recite bad poetry. They just wanted to drink. A good bartender is judged not by theatrics. They are judged by how fast they can get you a drink AND if they hook you up with some free beverages every so often.

However, my biggest problems with this movie are neither the bar antics nor the terrible acting displayed by Tom Cruise and Elizabeth Shue (the deer-in-headlights look does not display range, sweetheart), its how it solidified the idea of killing off the buddy / foil opposite Cruise in order to proclaim Cruise as the height-challenged grinning god of the Western world. Bryan Brown made the movie, yet he offs himself in the end. Sorry, but even with the whole money-isn’t-everything message, Brown’s Doug Coughlin was a true survivor. He would just go bang a bevy of harlots after he realized his trophy wife was unfaithful. Or he would give the trophy wife crabs, just as he did all those waitresses. Coughlin would persevere, but in a Tom Cruise movie, only Cruise can be proclaimed as the strong-willed hero(ine).

I have always thought killing off the opposite male character is part of Cruise’s contract, much like how he takes a portion of the film’s gross. I think this is partly why he became so popular, because it’s just keeps driving the message home that Cruise will always prevail, even if you destroy his e-Meter or call him gay (which, I may add, is completely obvious in the limited dance moves performed in Cocktail. I felt like I was watching the some halfway-in-the-closet dude try to pick up on some twink during a Friday night circuit party).

I have no idea why I decided to watch Cocktail. I’m sure there was other, more appropriate programming airing in that timeslot. Maybe I had a subconscious urge to relive the era of over-styled men’s hair? I’m not quite sure. I’ve decided Cocktail is just one of those movies you watch for no reason whatsoever. When it was over, I felt sort of dirty and bloated. It simulated the feeling of eating an entire bag of Cheetos, combined with the time in college when I ran from the random sauna at this fraternity house where some idiot took me because he thought he had a chance at groping me.

No comments: