Cocktail (1988)

cocktail_4Starring Tom Cruise, Bryan Brown, Elisabeth Shue, Lisa Banes, Laurence Luckinbill, Kelly Lynch, Gina Gershon, Ron Dean, Robert Donley, Ellen Foley

Directed by Roger Donaldson

Expectations: Very low.

onehalfstar


When you hear someone talking about ’80s movies that haven’t aged well, Cocktail is exactly the type of movie they’re talking about. Everything about the film is so drenched in 1980s wealth-seeking immorality that it’s no surprise the film was a huge success in its day. But in 2013, Cocktail stands easily identifiable as a dated and overlong mess of a film. I love ’80s movies more than most people, but Cocktail is ’80s in all the wrong ways.

But for some reason Cocktail isn’t all that hard to watch. Sure, it’s well-shot and features some great locations in New York City and Jamaica, but that’s beside the point. The real reason is Tom Cruise. I’ve never been much of a fan, but I can’t deny him his ability to fill a screen and own it with his charisma. He’s on full display throughout the film and he does a great job playing a sexist, idealistic douche. The supporting cast is also easy on the eyes, with Bryan Brown perfectly playing the cocky bartender mentor and Elisabeth Shue looking beautiful as she facilitates romantic plot points for Cruise to work his way through.

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Back to the Future Part III (1990)

Starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Mary Steenburgen, Thomas F. Wilson, Lea Thompson, Elisabeth Shue, James Tolkan, Jeffrey Weissman, Flea

Directed by Robert Zemeckis

Expectations: High, I love this one too.


For some reason Back to the Future Part III gets a bad rap. I just don’t get it. I’ve always loved this one and wondered why so many consider it a poor series entry. Not only does the story deftly fit within the framework built in the previous two films, it builds upon it even more. There were quite a few themes and loose ends left at the end of Part II, and Part III brings them all together in the closing moments and perfectly caps off the series. What’s not to like?

Doc Brown is stuck in the Old West and Marty happens upon some info that he can’t sit on. Despite Doc’s explicit warning not to come get him in the past, Marty does what he feels is right and makes the jump. Of course it’s not as simple as finding Doc, throwing him in the car and speeding off into the future and this time around our main heavy is Biff’s ancestor Buford Tannen, once again expertly played by Thomas F. Wilson. Seriously, he fits perfectly into any wacky role Zemeckis and Bob Gale can cook up for him.

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Back to the Future Part II (1989)

Starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Thomas F. Wilson, Lea Thompson, Elisabeth Shue, James Tolkan, Jeffrey Weissman, Flea, Casey Siemaszko, Billy Zane, J.J. Cohen, Charles Fleischer

Directed by Robert Zemeckis

Expectations: High, I love this one too.


How do you follow-up one of the most exciting, entertaining and enthralling films of all-time? It’s a nearly impossible situation to be in for any filmmaker, but thankfully Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale were up to the task. Back to the Future Part II builds on the fiction of the first film beautifully, taking us on an even faster paced thrill ride through time. Doc Brown takes Marty and Jennifer into the year 2015 (so yes, you’ve only got three more years to wait for your flying car). Doc did some temporal snooping and found out about a few events worth avoiding in the McFly family timeline. He enlists Marty to impersonate his own son so that they can nip these problems in the bud. Of course, it does not go as planned and we have a ridiculously exciting film on our hands.

I haven’t seen this one nearly as much as I’ve seen the original; the ratio is probably 10:1. This makes for a lot of fun when re-visiting the film, as I remember general plot points and scenes, but nothing in great detail. For instance, I’m always surprised at how little future stuff there is, as the characters are only in the future for one section of the film. Due to this fact, I am able to judge this film more objectively than the first, which isn’t to say that some nostalgia isn’t clouding my vision.

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