Risky Business – Film Review

Director: Paul Brickman

Starring: Tom Cruise and Rebecca De Mornay

Rating: ★★½

Tom Cruise is undeniably one of the biggest stars of all time. He’s a great actor and one of the most bankable people in Hollywood. His reputation may have been tarnished in recent years, but the Mission: Impossible series is still going strong. Risky Business, released in 1983 was one of his early successes and propelled him to world-wide fame.  

Cruise plays Joel Goodson, a high achieving high schooler, with big ambitions. After his friend orders an escort for him, he ends up caught up in a world he doesn’t truly belong to. Using his knowledge of business, he starts a brothel from his house, while his parents are away on vacation.

The film sounds stupid because the premise is stupid. It’s full of rich people problems. Joel can’t afford the escort and must go the bank to cash in a savings bond to pay her. While he’s gone, she steals a priceless egg that belongs to Joel’s mother. While watching it, you can’t help but wonder how pointless the film is. You don’t really care for Joel, because he got himself into the situation and why should we care.

Tom Cruise is fantastic, and his performance is one of his best from the early days of his career. If it wasn’t for this, maybe his life would have taken a different path and we wouldn’t have classics such as A Few Good Men, Born on the 4th July or Rain Man. At maybe, Cruise wouldn’t have starred in them. The fact that Risky Business propelled him into stardom is a good enough reason for it to exist. To be fair, Taps, the army-school drama from a couple of year before should have been enough to ensure Cruise’s career (It’s a fantastic and often overlooked film), but it’s Risky Business that is widely recognised as his break-out role.

The most famous scene – Joel dancing to Old Time Rock and Roll, is one of the most iconic moments in film history. It comes early in the actual film and is one of the more charming moments of the film. There really isn’t anything else that happens that is all that memorable. The characters and story are just not engaging enough. Toward the beginning there are a few exploitative scenes, especially with Lana (Rebecca De Mornay) and towards the end the whole film just feels pointless. It’s a coming of age story where at the end nothing is really learned and nothing is really lost.

Apart from Cruise there is nothing worth seeing in Risky Business. It’s completely unengaging and forgettable. It gets some leniency because it’s an early Cruise film and his performance is fantastic, but beyond that this is a pointless film that isn’t worth watching. It’ll leave you feeling hollow.

About ashleymanningwriter

Young Adult Fiction writer. Horror and fantasy blended together.
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