"I take orders from the Octoboss."

Risky Business

August 5, 1983

RISKY BUSINESS is a teen sex comedy best remembered for the scene where Tom Cruise in tighty-whiteys dorkily dances around his living room to one of the least cool songs of the era. But put that out of your mind because the overall style and feel of this movie is one of severe coolness. It’s the only horny teen movie I’ve seen that feels kinda like a distant relative to AMERICAN GIGOLO and AFTER HOURS.

That may largely come down to the score by Tangerine Dream (whose previous movie scores were SORCERER, THIEF, STRANGE BEHAVIOR, THE SOLDIER, and WAVELENGTH), on top of strong work by cinematographers Bruce Surtrees (DIRTY HARRY, THE OUTFIT, WHITE DOG) and Reynaldo Villalobos (URBAN COWBOY), production designer William J. Cassidy (ROCKY, CARNY, ROCKY III) and editor Richard Chew (THE CONVERSATION, STAR WARS). But it also has a different tone and attitude than similar movies of the era. Although writer/director Paul Brickman’s previous screenwriting credits were THE BAD NEWS BEARS IN BREAKING TRAINING and HANDLE WITH CARE, this was his first time directing, and he was welcomed as an exciting new voice. Variety’s review compared the movie to “a promising first novel,” and Roger Ebert wrote that it had earned comparisons to THE GRADUATE.

It opens with a sexual frustration dream, breathily narrated by Cruise, foreshadowing his later role in EYES WIDE SHUT. In his fifth movie, between LOSIN’ IT and ALL THE RIGHT MOVES, Cruise plays Joel Goodsen, a hard working but only a little above average high school senior under heavy pressure from his parents and himself to get into Princeton. His reoccurring dream is about being invited into a shower with a beautiful stranger, then getting lost in the steam and finding himself arriving too late to take his SATs.

He tells his douchebag buddies Miles and Barry (played by first timers Curtis Armstrong and Bronson Pinchot) about the dream over a poker game. He also tells them a story where he tries to imply he had sex once. “What do you think happened?” he asks, but can’t bring himself to actually lie that something happened. Carefree Miles advises him to “just say ‘fuck it’” and break some rules while his mom (first-timer Janet Carroll, later the Secretary General in THE ART OF WAR III: RETRIBUTION) and dad (Nicholas Pryor, THE HAPPY HOOKER) are on vacation. Joel responds by drinking beer and adjusting the equalizer (specifically forbidden by his father) to play the aforementioned absolutely terrible Bob Seger song.

Oh god damn it I have it in my head now. Why did they use that song? It was very successful for them, but does that make it just? Does that make it moral? Absolutely not. But I suppose that would be a cool, rebellious song to a guy who’s so uptight he can’t jerk off without daydreaming about cops raiding the house to stop him.

The inciting incident is when Miles friend-bullies Joel by leaving his name and address on the answering machine of an escort service, forcing him to spend the night nervously anticipating a knock on the door. One unexpected thing about this movie is that, especially for the time, there’s little to no judgment or slut shaming of the sex professionals. Even more surprising, the one who shows up at Joel’s house, Jackie (Bruce A. Young, “Mechanic #2,” THIEF), is a tall, Black trans woman or cross dresser, and the movie doesn’t really disrespect him or her. I do think there’s some mockery inherent in the idea of Joel having to turn Jackie down, but after seeing so much casual homophobia even in Michael J. Fox movies and shit it’s just nice to see him be so polite about the whole situation.

The encounter does intrigue him about the idea of paying for sex, causing him to comb through the classifieds and eventually work up the nerve to call a number Jackie gave him for someone named Lana (Rebecca De Mornay, who had only been in ONE FROM THE HEART). She comes over and they have such an over-the-top hot encounter I assumed it was supposed to be a fantasy sequence at first.

She’s still there in the morning and Mr. Doofus here apparently forgot to inquire about her rates, so he finds himself leaving her alone in the house while he goes to the bank to cash out some bonds he has in a safe deposit box. I like the touch that they’re stored with a note from his grandparents from when they gave them to him. Spend this on something nice, hon!

When he gets home she’s gone, having stolen his mom’s prized glass egg from the fireplace mantle. I think the movie does a good job of balancing the inexperienced-scared-kid and smart-person-becoming-an-adult sides of his personality, never making him turn into the typical ‘80s movie wish fulfillment character (except in the amazing sex he stumbles into). He’s capable enough to figure out where Lana is going to be on another escort gig and get into the place by wearing a tie, but then all he knows to do is give her a dirty look from across the room. When he does confront her outside he can’t help but fall for her again and help her escape her gun-wielding “manager” Guido (Joe Pantoliano in his sixth movie, between THE FINAL TERROR and EDDIE AND THE CRUISERS).

I have to admit I’ve never paid that much attention to the films of Rebecca De Mornay, but found her stunning here, both in her appearance and her performance. It’s not hard to buy Joel being so intimidated by her. To me Lana is a very sympathetic character without really falling into the “hooker with a heart of gold” cliche – instead she’s just a very self-assured one who only gives a fuck what you think in the sense that she’ll tell you to fuck off if she senses an issue. The closest Joel ever comes to judging her profession is innocently asking her about dropping out of school, and she immediately lets him have it. When the plot shifts to her saving his ass by hooking up her high class escort friends with his high school rich kid friends it’s at least as much of a celebration of her intelligence as it is a satirical comment about his worship of business acumen (by comparing it to pimping).

I’m torn on whether or not the movie believes Joel is cool when he finds his new slick and confident pimp persona (signified by Ray-Bans, a blazer over a black t-shirt and a cigarette dangling from his lip). I suspect it does, but I’m okay laughing at him. The last act gets more into the expected teen comedy tropes, such as the house getting trashed and Joel just barely managing to impossibly get everything in place moments before his parents get home, and the Princeton admissions officer (Richard Masur, THE THING) unexpectedly letting him in thanks to a night with Lana’s colleagues. But the more memorable part of that section is Lana bringing Joel on the L-train late at night to wait for the car to be empty so they can fuck. It’s important to the plot in the sense that the house gets robbed during it and Joel has to wonder if Lana set him up, but Brickman could’ve gotten around that if he wanted to. Instead he did this atmospheric scene, tied into the opening establishing shots of the L-train, where Lana leads Joel into an experience of danger and pleasure encapsulating this world of adulthood that he’s venturing into, as opposed to the frat-boys-giggling-at-boobies-together approach to sexuality that’s more common in this genre.

PORKY’S II: THE NEXT DAY came out earlier that summer. Can we call RISKY BUSINESS an “elevated PORKY’S movie”? That’s probly too reductive of PORKY’S because, at least according to my review from many years ago, it has some directorial style along with its juvenile bonerpalooza. RISKY BUSINESS does too – I’m thinking, for example, of Mr. and Mrs. Goodsen’s trip to the airport and pre-vacation lecture, shot entirely from Joel’s POV, like he’s young Michael Myers. Another favorite touch is when Joel has pissed off Lana, destroyed his dad’s car, and been suspended from school, and his response is to borrow his friends bicycle, ride it all the way across the city, run up the stairs to Lana’s hotel room and hug her. A moment of sincere vulnerability and comfort in a relationship that has previously been mainly about sexual and financial transactions.

In fairness to whoever chose the songs, I like most of them. The L-train scene makes excellent use of “In the Air Tonight” (2 years after it came out, but 2 years before it was in the Miami Vice pilot), Prince’s “D.M.S.R.” plays at the party, and they use Muddy Waters playing “Mannish Boy” in a way that seems obvious now, but is meaningful if you take it as ironic.

Like Bob Clark with the first PORKY’S, Brickman made a personal movie informed by his own teenage experiences, even filming it mostly in his home town of Highland Park, Illinois (though it’s set in Glencoe). I find Joel to be a compelling character without being able to relate to his very specific rich kid experiences, like rebelling against his dad by driving his beloved Porsche without permission. (That obviously struck a chord with John Hughes, who gave the whole subplot to Cameron in FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF, which was also shot in Highland Park. The Paramount+ algorithm agrees with me on that and autoplays FERRIS after this one). I guess it’s enough that he feels adrift in his word of budding capitalist bros. When a conversation about college and career plans prompts him to ask “Doesn’t anyone want to accomplish anything? Or do we just want to make money?” it doesn’t sound like some empty grumbling, reminiscing about the days of old, it’s more like a horrified realization.

I wanted to see what Brickman had to say about the movie, and luckily there’s a pretty good American Masters interview with him and producer David Geffen on the PBS websight. Brickman explains, “Well, RISKY to me was all about the Reagan era and everyone wanting to be a little capitalist. That was the theme of RISKY and what a myth that was in that things are a lot harder than they were made out to be at the time… What’s going on in that culture was a romanticized view of what capitalism was, but it was really tough for a lot of people.”

He said he wanted to make something tonally different from other teen movies, something darker, and yes, he specifically says he wanted sexuality that was not like PORKY’S. He wrote it as part of a two picture deal at Warner Brothers, but it went into turnaround and he couldn’t find anyone interested until former talent agent, rock ’n roll manager and label head turned budding movie mogul Geffen read the script, and let him make it without much studio interference.

But there was some compromise; Geffen made him change to a more upbeat ending. Originally Joel did not get into Princeton, and it ended on a bittersweet note about the tough life Lana would likely have ahead of her. Brickman said, “I think the film would have been a smarter film and would have played just as well in the end,” but also, “Looking back with hindsight and more wisdom and more mature, we were both right and we were both wrong.”

Despite Brickman’s best efforts, Warner Brothers did see it as being like PORKY’S and wanted to advertise it as such. Luckily Geffen was able to hire an outside advertising agency and come up with the iconic poster that’s a little more representative of the tangerine dreamy feeling of the movie.

RISKY BUSINESS was well reviewed and a big hit – it made ten times its budget just in theaters, then became a favorite on VHS and cable. Despite that success, Brickman only directed one other movie (MEN DON’T LEAVE in 1990), plus a short called Allison in 2012. He did write William Friedkin’s DEAL OF THE CENTURY (1983), Clint Eastwood’s TRUE CRIME (1999) and the 2001 mini-series Uprising with RISKY BUSINESS producer Jon Avnet.

Instead of the movie that established Paul Brickman, RISKY BUSINESS is of course remembered as the breakthrough for movie star of all movie stars Tom Cruise. He’s very good in the role and it’s striking now because until he gains Ray-Ban-powered confidence at the end it’s so opposite of the onscreen persona he’d soon develop. He convincingly plays a timid loser, not good enough for his parents or for the college he wants, not as lucky as his friends, afraid of women and everything else. And he’s a kid! He and his friends ride bikes to school or get dropped off by their parents. It’s crazy to think that only three years later Cruise was able to fully inhabit the role of the cockiest show off in cinematic history – motorcycle-riding, jet-flying, women’s-bathroom-invading, teacher-fucking, reckless-endangering-but-legally-not-responsible-for-the-death-of-his-best-friend hot shot speed needer Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in TOP GUN MAVERICK ORIGINS: TOP GUN.

Reportedly De Mornay and Cruise started dating during the movie, breaking up a relationship she’d had with Harry Dean Stanton! That nicely reflects the movie’s dynamic where they’re about the same age but she lives a more grown up life. Another interesting fact about De Mornay is that she’s a musician and as a teenager she sold some of her songs to German rock groups and wrote “The King of Kung Fu,” the theme for the 1975 Bruceploitation movie GOODBYE BRUCE LEE: HIS LAST GAME OF DEATH starring Bruce Li. She also co-produced Leonard Cohen’s 1992 album The Future, and almost married him.

Armstrong followed this with two much broader teen comedies, REVENGE OF THE NERDS and BETTER OFF DEAD, but this was what really establishes his persona as the horny, eccentric best friend. He’s definitely supposed to be kinda sleazy and a stressful friend to have, but also wise in his “sometimes you have to just say ‘fuck it’” philosophizing. And there’s a scene where he takes out a tobacco pipe and starts smoking like a professor. Anyway, I was thinking – what if Curtis Armstrong had been the one whose career took off from this and then he starred in a Kubrick movie and started climbing buildings and jumping off cliffs and shit? That would’ve been cool. Instead he will forever be known as “Booger.” But that’s how it goes. And he’ll always have Moonlighting.

Pinchot’s next movie was BEVERLY HILLS COP, a role that launched him into the land of wacky accents. He was actually set to play the Indian protagonist of SHORT CIRCUIT when he left to play a rip off of Taxi’s Latka Gravas on the hit sitcom Perfect Strangers. His great character in TRUE ROMANCE belongs in the Douchebag Hall of Fame and seems more like a descendent of his debut role here.

I had not seen RISKY BUSINESS since I was a kid and I have to say, I was pretty impressed. It’s more interesting than its reputation suggests. I recommend it if you haven’t seen it.

Legacy: The underwear scene has been parodied by such important cultural figures as ALF and Garfield.


This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 2nd, 2023 at 5:01 pm and is filed under Reviews, Comedy/Laffs. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

39 Responses to “Risky Business”

  1. This movie was cosmically important for me and a few other 12 year old friends, when we would watch it on video repeatedly. Haven’t seen it since.

    One small touch I seem to remember: the first time Joel tries to take his parents’ car out, it stalls in the driveway – when the car dies, so does the soundtrack music, which then kicks back in when he restarts the car. That seemed incredible to me at the time.

    Also, during the party scene, “Swamp” by Talking Heads plays. The same friend who showed me this on video had a super hip dad who was into art movies and cool music like Talking Heads and Blondie – it seemed like cosmic synchronicity to hear the song in the movie, right after I’d been introduced to the band, in the same house.

    Cool shit!

    I can’t endorse any connection between this and FERRIS BUELLER though – friends in high school thought that movie was the coolest thing ever but Ferris always gave me the creeps. And this is after Broderick was so cool in WAR GAMES! Lately I’ve thought of BUELLER as the prequel to AMERICAN PSYCHO.

  2. For a long time I thought this was Cruise’s BACHELOR PARTY, but throught the years I’ve been told more than once that this was much smarter and better than that. Still haven’t seen it though.

  3. I liked this when it came out. But the more I got into punk rock, Jim Jarmusch and Charles Bukowski the more I saw it as just another PORKY’S/BACHELOR PARTY kind of deal. Maybe it’s time for a re-visit.

  4. “For a long time I thought this was Cruise’s BACHELOR PARTY, but throught the years I’ve been told more than once that this was much smarter and better than that”

    Damn straight! As much as I love me horny male comedies like PORKY’S, REVENGE OF THE NERDS, AMERICAN PIE etc…..RISKY BUSINESS is in a different category altogether. It’s smart, funny and sexy. Most teen comedies manage at best to be 2 out of those 3.

  5. “Legacy: The underwear scene has been parodied by such important cultural figures as ALF and Garfield.”

    Not to mention the butler Niles from the popular 90s sitcom The Nanny

  6. Definitely the moodiest/artiest ‘teens trying to get laid’ movie (while also being the moodiest/artiest ‘square becomes a pimp’–i.e. Night Shift, Doctor Detroit, etc–movie). I do still find it surprising that it was such a hit/sensation, and basically created the Cruise we know and love. In addition to being so moody/arty, it’s ostensibly a comedy, yet doesn’t really have many ‘jokes’ or laugh out loud moments. And mostly relies on general oddness for humor. Historically speaking, that strategy usually doesn’t equate box-office gold (although, I guess it worked for The Graduate. Obviously Risky Business’ biggest role model)

    But, that last point is what has always kept me from embracing this movie beyond a lark. You can just feel that “Y’know, like The Graduate… The eighties version” was stated multiple times a day during all phases of production. And while I don’t feel that updating or modernizing is an inherently faulty or erroneous strategy in making one’s own movie, in the case of Risky Business, I never got the feeling there is much of one’s own movie beyond “Y’know, like The Graduate… The eighties version”

  7. I really hope your hateful anti-Bob Seger rhetoric doesn’t drive a wedge between us someday, Vern.

  8. For the longest time I would argue that this was Cruise’s best movie, which was I think mostly a pose, but it may still be his best performance. It’s certainly more interesting than classical cocky Cruiser roles, and much better than any of his serious Oscar-chasing work. Now I probably think EDGE OF TOMORROW is his best movie. But Joel is a loser and stays a loser, albeit one who has sex with Rebecca De Mornay and gets into Princeton, whereas Bill Cage may start out an asshole and coward, but he ends up a badass and a saviour. Joel’s big win apparently is getting one up on a prostitute who hasn’t had half his advantages. Big man!

    And De Mornay is terrific in this too. So it’s interesting to see how her and Cruise’s careers played out. There’s a sense that she could’ve done much more, and he could’ve done much more interesting.

    As to BACHELOR PARTY, like RISKY BUSINESS it’s also interesting to see an early movie starring an actor who’s screen persona had not yet been fixed do something a long distance from that persona. I mean, wouldn’t it be great to see Tom Hanks do a broad comedy again, a TURNER AND HOOCH legacy sequel, say. You know it would have to be better than A MAN CALLED OTTO.

  9. It seems “Wouldn’t it be cool if Tom Hanks would do another broad, silly comedy again?” is a quite popular sentiment and I totally agree with that. I don’t think it will ever happen again, but at least we have his occasional SNL appearances.

  10. Yeah, but he did all those terrible* Ron Howard / Dan Brown adaptations (ar those his first and only sequels / franchise?!), so, never say never!

    Although FORREST GUMP was actually an important and powerful movie for me (too-cool hipsters, fuck off in advance), and I kind of lost interest in Tom Hanks after he became a serious actor. It honestly felt like a waste, since he’s so much more enjoyable doing broader comedic stuff. Same with Michael Keaton. He is a great actor, and I’m fine with him dabbling in drama, but it just seems like such a waste for him to be stuck there. He was good in ASTEROID CITY, I liked CLOUD ATLAS (which is a delightful complete mess of a vanity project for the Wachowskis), and he is always, always solid, but most of his films and role choices are completely uninteresting to me. David S. Pumpkins is the most memorable and enjoyable thing he’s done that I have watched since CLOUD ATLAS. Like with Michael Keaton, he’s great in SPOTLIGHT, and I’m sure he’s great in that opioid TV movie, but why waste your time on that stuff when you can play BEETLEJUICE-type characters or chew up the scenery in SPIDER-MAN. If you can be as good comedically as you can dramatically, you have a moral obligation to choose funny far more often than dramatic. Goes triple for Will Ferrell, who is just fine in STRANGER THAN FICTION (but who gives a shit) and better in EVERYTHING MUST GO (his best dramatic role and a damn good film), but has a comedic gift that should not be hidden under a bushel or squandered on trying to prove his dramatic chops (goes quintuple-squared for Adam McKay, who has become a smug, scolding, self-important hack chasing “serious filmmaker” waterfalls when he could’ve made the next ANCHORMAN or STEP BROTHERS or RICKY BOBBY).

    Also, I have never seen RISKY BUSINESS, but now I want to and Rebecca DeMornay is awesome.

    *Disclosure: I have not seen

  11. Yeah, give Tom Hanks a meaty part and he is great (I believe his Oscars for PHILADELPHIA and GUMP were justified and he should’ve won over Russel Crowe for CASTAWAY), but he sadly seems to not get many of these. I can think of more memorable comedic Hanks performances than dramatic ones.

    Also in terms of BACHELOR PARTY: I believe it’s the CITIZEN KANE of dumb 80s sex comedies with an up and coming actor who later became a beloved and Oscar winning screen icon. Not saying it’s actually good good, but it’s pretty low on “That shit really doesn’t fly anymore” stuff* and a whole bunch of jokes are pretty well staged and exactly my kind of low-brow humor.

    *Okay, there is one really nasty moment of Transphobia, but at least the Trans character is portrayed as cool, confident and sexy while the transphobe’s reaction can at least be seen as purposely dumb and over the top.

  12. Wait, isn’t BACHELOR PARTY then one where the guy puts his dick in a hot doug bun so that a (older?) lady inadvertently grabs it? Did I hallucinate that?

  13. Once again, i apologize for my aggressively fast typing resulting in typos and word salad that threatens to obfuscate the meaning of what I’m saying. Too much coffee over her if you couldn’t already tell, but hopefully it’s coherent-ish.

  14. (The hot dog, I mean)

  15. Okay, so maybe we add non-penetrative sexual assault to the “does not hold up quite as well” side of ledger, and possibly even consider letting it jump the line to go above transphobic teasing. The 80s, am I right!?! “I loave these country!” (in best Yakov voice). None of this will hold me back from re-watching it. Times change and we see shit in a new light which, for me at least, helps keep me humble about the fact that aspects of our present moment probably will not age well (if they all age well, it’d be first).

  16. I mean, I said it’s low on by today’s standards questionable shit, not that it’s completely free of it.

    Random fun fact: Originally BACHELOR PARTY got an 18 rating in Germany, but when they re-rated it for a DVD release a while ago, it got away with a 12.

  17. Yeah, honestly, this is the same reason why I just can’t fully get on board with all of the hyper-emotionalized very online progressive moral panics and outrage (and general panics and outrage) about everything. When you see the diversity of how different cultures and nations and subcultures at the same time or the same broad people group at different times process taboo/identity/morally charged issues and behaviors that eventually become full-on culture wars, it should signal to you that we are all on a journey. It is cool to take a stand for what you believe in, but if you are actively hating and demonizing entire demographic or geographic swaths of people with a lot of emotional energy and implicit self-righteousness then: (a) you are kidding yourself, are you fucking serious? and (b) you might as well just be demonizing your past self and the bulk of historical humanity past, present, and future (and you can look forward to feature douchebags demonizing you), because we are all fucked up and have been all fucked up but hopefully are exercising some level of moral agency to become less fucked up over time.

    I have a good friend who is a full-on Marxist, BLM protest organizer (been arrested and went to court for it and everything) and wears pink fingernail polish because I think he likes it but also as trans/gender-nonconforming solidarity type, and he only bikes and does not drive. And he was raised a Christian fundamentalist and as recently as 6 years ago was considering becoming a Catholic but is now agnostic. He has a great deal of difficulty having any love or compassion for his younger self, because to his current self, his younger self had such fucked up politics. That’s anti-human. If you can’t love fucked up people or can only see them by their politics (which is not at odds with having strong political convictions and acting on them), then you are in a state of arrested development, imprisoned by an unproductive feedback loop of hatred for whatever fails to be right in step with where you are now (where you probably weren’t 10 or 20 years ago). It’s no bueno.

    In conclusion, come in here for a hug, Tom Hanks and weird Chippendales dick hot dog buy, but first put it back in your pants and say your sorry and do some quiet reflection time.

  18. “hot dog guy.”

  19. Awe, man. I like “Old Time Rock’n’Roll”.

    But other than that, great review. And I hadn’t thought of it before, but I agree that the Tangerine Dream soundtrack really does a lot to make this feel very different than its peers. When I think of this movie, I either think of the dancing scene (because how can one not at this point considering how much we’ve all seen it or its parodies) or I think of this sort of dreamy, hazy, almost psychedelic feeling it has at times such as the train scene. And I think the soundtrack really helps nail that feeling (along with some great cinematography and whatnot of course).

    Regarding Rebecca DeMornay: she really is stunning in this, and I didn’t know about the music stuff which is really cool. But, for me, I can’t think of her without remembering the weird bit of trivia that her biological father is that nut-job Wally George who had a super right wing talk show broadcast out of Orange County in the 80s and 90s. If you haven’t seen that crazy shit, it’s… well, it’s something. (I believe she essentially disowned him once her parents got divorced, and who can blame her?)

  20. Harry Dean Stanton?!?!?

  21. I know! I just checked to see if Stanton regularly dated way younger actresses, but all his obituary in the L.A. Times said about his love life was, “Stanton was never married, though he had a long relationship with actress Rebecca De Mornay.” According to the De Mornay Wikipedia page, “They met in 1981 on the set of One From the Heart and dated until De Mornay and Tom Cruise began an affair while filming Risky Business in 1982.” If that was his longest relationship that’s something!

  22. I have nothing specific against Bob Seger and even like some of his songs now and again, but the opening notes of “Old Time Rock n’ Roll” prompt skipping the next station just as soon as I can touch the dial / button. I don’t know what it is. I just have this adverse reaction to it and always have, even going back to the era of this movie.

    I always wondered why Paul Brickman never did much of anything else. Bad luck, bad timing, lack of interest, what? Wikipedia has almost nothing. Maybe he just really didn’t enjoy it? Sort of a like a Carrie Henn in ALIENS thing.

  23. My guess would be bad luck. It took him 7 years to direct again (MEN DON’T LEAVE), and that one was well reviewed but lost money. Seems to fit the pattern of one of those guys who developed a million projects that just never saw the light of day.

  24. Bob Seger songs that slap:

    East Side Story
    Chain Smoking
    Death Row

  25. Vern, I think you touch upon the reason I grew to dislike RISKY BUSINESS in the 80s. It’s not so much the Cruise factor as the fact that Joel is a rich asshole displaying some of the worst sides of the patriarchy (can’t wait till the BARBIE review). He was basically the one getting ridiculed in all the other youth oriented comedies of that time.

    If you watch the documentary aboput Harry Dean Stanton on Netflix you get the feeling he was quite the ladies man. Even Debbie Harry gets giggly and talks about some one night stand they had.

  26. Tangentially, HDS is one of the best things about INLAND EMPIRE, which is Lynch’s most bloated self-indulgent post-1990s TWIN PEAKS endeavor (including TWIN PEAKS RETURN!), but still has enough individually really good elements. HDS is so great in it. I watched the first several seasons of BIG LOVE, and he is also fantastic in that. Definitely has the it factor of a person operating in entirely his own lane and plane.

  27. grimgrinningchris

    August 4th, 2023 at 7:22 pm

    I care. STRANGER THAN FICTION is in my top 5 chicken soup movies ever. It’s just so warm and sweet and comforting and probably has my favorite first kiss in movie history. And is also the second best use of Queen Latifah in a movie.

    Bob Seger can kick rocks. Seattle own, The Briefs (the name has no connection to Cruise’s briefs in the scene- ha), have a lovely song about him.

    Only Seinfeld writers, The Larrys or whoever over there, would think it would be funny to name a sassy black (couple times) recurring character Rebecca Demonay. But then it so WAS funny. And I have no idea why, but I just laughed out loud just thinking of her line delivery telling people her name. Ha!

    Last. I do believe this movie introduced me to many things. Not least of which was the term “artsy fartsy”.

  28. Chris – Noted. The Ferrell in me acknowledges the Ferrell in you.

  29. grimgrinningchris

    August 5th, 2023 at 4:17 am


    Indeed. Ha. It’s also one of my favorite characters for Emma Thompson and the most attractive and charismatic that Maggie Gyllenhall has ever been. I’m generally pretty ambivalent about her, as an actress and for guy reasons. But in that role… oof!

    I wish it was streaming. I lost my dvd of it 2 moves ago. Bah.

    I do neee to watch Risky Business again. I have so many vivid memories of it but none of the TD score. In my head, its score was more of a sad-moody-jazz Glengary Glen Ross kinda score.

  30. I mean, it IS a good movie. I just always feel like an actor like that is better served (and better serves humanity) by leaning into his strengths. I also realize that it’s his life and was being 43% flippant in my earlier post. I feel like each of these guys has at least one great dramatic role that is worth seeing. TRUMAN SHOW is a great movie, I think. MAN ON THE MOON is an excellent film, too, but it feels like the most unnecessarily, distractingly Oscar baity type film and is not one I really need to revisit. But then I also know that being zany can get old: just ’cause your good at something doesn’t mean you don’t get sick of it or want to mix it up.

    Anyway, back to STRANGER THAN, I agree it’s very solid as a film (I remember a surprising amount about it, which is atypical of me), even if I’m not sure it needs Ferrell or is the best use of his talents. I found Maggie Gyllenhaal incredibly winning and attractive not only in this but also in DARK KNIGHT (and in STRANGER), so, maybe she has a Harry Dean thing going on of her own — something about confidence, authenticity, and old soul-ness. What I’m saying is when the Make a Wish Foundation asks me which Rachel Dawes I want to take me to prom, I’m going with Maggie, and it’s not close.

    It must run in the Gyllenhaal family, because Jake is a favorite of mine, too. Old souls, those two!

  31. The Krypt Ceeper

    August 5th, 2023 at 11:43 am


    – The Collected Works of Parker Lewis, Volume XXVII

    (Nobody will ever be as cool in any teen comedy as the Lewis Gang, The Cools From Those Schools. Not even that girl from “Just one of the guys”).

  32. Crushinator Jones

    August 22nd, 2023 at 11:13 am

    My mom was an ROP (regional occupational program) at a high school in the 80s. If you don’t know, ROP was a program for getting teens familiar with how a business worked and developing some basic retail and task management skills. Anyway, at the end of the year she told the kids that she had a great movie about a budding teen entrepreneur just like them that she thought they would enjoy; it was rated R though so they needed to bring home, and have their parents sign, a release form. They all did. So, on that fateful day my mom had the AV department deliver her the TV-on-a-cart that was endemic to schools back then and pops in Risky Business on the TV. “In retrospect, the train sex scene was a little awkward” is how she recalls it.

  33. As a movie which shares some DNA with Risky Business (in so much that it’s central plot pivots on the relationship between a rich and awkward kid and a sexually available older woman contracted to sleep with him) may I heartily recommend NO HARD FEELINGS? Not only is it a nice throwback to the R-Rated comedies that at one point used to be a dime a dozen, but it has an on form J-Law and good, solid writing that manages to be both very funny and poignant.

  34. I enjoyed NO HARD FEELINGS but felt it could have gone harder. The nude fight scene was the only real attempt at the kind of raunchiness we were promised, and while it probably would have been a showstopper if it had come as a surprise, it had already been thoroughly spoiled beforehand by everything ever written about the movie. Still, the movie was cute and amusing and finally took advantage of Jennifer Lawrence’s actual personality instead of making her cry and glower all the time like she usually does.

  35. I practically went into this movie cold, not having seen any of the trailers so both “Nude Beach Fight” and the “Finger Trap” scene had me laughing out loud, and I concur that the movie could have used more of such raunchiness. It’s got the body of American Pie, but it’s beating heart is pure Hallmark. And unless it’s something Nolan-approved, Movie Trailers these days by and large suck hard, specializing in either giving away major plot points or in some cases, condensing the film’s entire narrative in 2 minutes.

    And completely agree that Comedic Lawrence beats “Cry Baby” Lawrence by a country mile.

  36. Come on, it’s not just “trailers these days”. They always had that problem, starting in the very earliest days of cinema where they actually were condensed versions of the movies that spoiled every twist and how it ended.

  37. No, they didn’t. I recall the trailers from the 80s with Epic Voice Guy (RIP Don LaFontaine, you were the GOAT!) and you just got snippets. Scenes enticing you to watch it but you saw the Big Reveals only when watching the movie. RAMBO 2, TERMINATOR 2, DIE HARD, LETHAL WEAPON etc.

    Just watch the trailer for BLUE BEETLE, practically got the entire fucking movie there. Whereas the ENDGAME trailer that hid Professor Hulk or the DR STRANGE 2 one that cleverly gave no indication that Wanda was the Villain is how you need to do it. It may have been there from the start but I would argue “Let’s put all the Good Shit in the trailers” is far more prevalent now.

  38. I don’t know Kay, a third of T2 trailer showcases the climactic fight, and there are tons of the coolest liquid metal shots in it. Die Hard basically gives you the ending, the building exploding, helicopter going down, Willis jumping off, etch. Blue Beetle doesn’t seem that much different to me, just watched that trailer. I have less of an idea of what the climax is of that movie than Die Hard, which is clear from the preview.

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