Cocktail (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

“Cocktail” was an amazing film back in 1988 with its star Tom Cruise and a popular musical soundtrack to coincide with the film.  But the magic that captivated me as a teenager is now gone and what I thought was great movie, watching it today, I found it to be quite average.

Images courtesy of © 2012 Buena Vista Home Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Cocktail


DURATION: 104 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: Touchstone Home Entertainment


Release Date: June 5, 2012

Directed by Roger Donaldson

Screenplay by Heywood Gould

Produced by Robert W. Cort, Ted Field

Co-Producer: Daniel J. Heffner

Music by J. Peter Robinson

Cinematography by Dean Semler

Edited by Neil Travis

Casting by Donna Isaacson, John S. Lyons

Production Design by Mel Bourne

Art Direction by Dan Davis

Set Decoration by Hilton Rosemarin

Costume Design by Ellen Mirojnick


Tom Cruise as Brian Flanagan

Bryan Brown as Doug Coughlin

Elisabeth Shue as Jordan Mooney

Lisa Banes as Bonnie

Laurence Luckinbill as Mr. Mooney

Kelly Lynch as Kerry Coughlin

Gina Gershon as Coral

Ron Dean as Uncle Pat

Robert Donely as Eddie

Ellen Foley as Eleanor

Andrea Morse s Dulcey

After returning from the army, New York bartender Brian Flanagan (Tom Cruise) learns the secrets of the trade from his new boss, Doug Coughlin (Bryan Brown), before heading to Jamaica to work at a local resort TIki Bar. While in Jamaica, Flanagan falls in love with an American tourist (Elisabeth Shue).

In the summer 1988, “Cocktail” would go on to become a magnificent success for Touchstone Pictures and also its musical soundtrack featuring The Beach Boys’ “Kokomo”, Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry Be Happy”, Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love” and The Georgia Satellites’ “Hippy Hippy Shake” would dominate the music charts that year.

Budgeted at $11 million, despite the criticism the film received from critics, “Cocktail” would go on to make over $171 million.  The film would continue to show that Tom Cruise was Hollywood’s golden child and that every film he would star in, would literally become a box office success.

And now, nearly 25 years later, “Cocktail” has made its debut on Blu-ray courtesy of Touchstone Home Entertainment.

“Cocktail” revolves around Brian Flanagan (as portrayed by Tom Cruise), a man who left the Army and works as a part-time bartender at T.G.I. Friday’s in New York City while studying for a business degree.   Despite being a terrible bartender at first, he learns the tricks of the trade courtesy of his boss Doug Coughlin (as portrayed by Bryan Brown).

As Doug begins to become better as a bartender, both become a popular bartending duo at a nightclub for the wealthy and social elite. Brian hooks up with a brunette named Coral (as portrayed by Gina Gershon) and both have a passionate relationship, but Doug bets Brian that Coral will leave him by the end of the week.  Brian doubts that she would leave him but what he doesn’t know is that Doug has been talking to Coral, lying to her and him and eventually having sex with her.  This leads to the breakup between both Brian and Doug as the popular bartending duo and Brian wants nothing to do with Doug.

Bummed about what has happened in his life, Brian decides to leave New York City and head to Jamaica to become a bartender and pursue his dream of having his own place.  And in Jamaica, he meets an aspiring actress and waitress named Jordan Mooney (as portrayed by Elisabeth Shue) and both eventually have a happy relationship.

That is until Doug shows up to Jamaica.

Doug is now married to a wealth woman named Kelly (as portrayed by Kelly Lynch) and the two go back into their betting ways.  Doug and Brian have a bet on who will be the first to sleep with the bar regular Bonnie (as portrayed by Lisa Banes).  And Brian, who wants to beat his former mentor Doug, sleeps with her.  What Brian doesn’t know is that Jordan had seen them together and now devastated, leaves Jamaica and goes back to New York.

As for Brian and Doug, Brian continues to feel that he needs to upstate Doug and in the process, continues his relationship with the wealthy Bonnie and hopes that she can give him a better job in her company.  But realizes how unhappy he has become.  He knew he had a great relationship with Jordan but messed that up. And now, Brian wants to find Jordan and tries to do all that he can to get back with her.


“Cocktail” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1).  One of the benefits of “Cocktail” is the fact that it has one of the most talented, award-winning cinematographer’s in Hollywood working on the film.  Dean Semler is known for his work on film such as “Dances with Wolves”, “2012”, “Secretariat”, “Last Action Hero”, to name a few.  But what he brings to “Cocktail” is a darker feel when showcasing New York City and vibrancy when the location shifts to Jamaica.

While the film is a late ’80s film, the good news is that there is no heavy DNR, so the film does maintain ts grain and detail.  In fact, the Blu-ray is very good upgrade from its DVD counterpart.    While watching the film, I didn’t notice any artifacts nor did I see any banding.  Skin tones were natural, black levels were nice and deep and “Cocktail” looks great on Blu-ray!


“Cocktail” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital.  Because of the age of this film, I expected the soundtrack to be dialogue driven and primarily center and front-channel driven.  I was right.  Aside from hearing the musical soundtrack in lossless, the soundtrack is not immersive, but considering how old this film is and the fact that it is primarily a dialogue/music-driven film, the lossless soundtrack is appropriate.

Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.


There are no special features included on this Blu-ray release.

I remember when I watched “Cocktail” and was entering my final year in high school, I remember thinking the film was incredible.

The film had Tom Cruise and one of my favorite actresses from the ’80s, Elisabeth Shue, and of course, the music soundtrack that me and my friends would listen to over and over again. Whether it be the Beach Boys “Kokomo”, Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry Be Happy”, Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love” and The Georgia Satellites “Hippy Hippy Shake”.

As Tom Cruise’s last film “Top Gun” influenced people to join the Navy, “Cocktail” made me want to vacation in Jamaica and my interest in that would eventually lead me to being a reggae music fan.  So, “Cocktail” definitely had an influence in my life as an older teenager.

Tom Cruise and Elisabeth Shue had gone to bigger films right after this film was released in theaters.  Tom Cruise would have “Rain Man”, followed by “Born on the Fourth of July” and “A Few Good Men”, Elisabeth Shue had rid of her teenage character roles that she played on “Karate Kid”, :Adventures in Babysitting” and “Back to the Future” films with “Cocktail” and would play more mature roles in “Twenty Bucks”, “Soapdish” and most importantly in “Leaving Las Vegas” and Bryan Brown would appear in “Gorillas in the Mist”.  As for filmmaker Roger Donaldson, he would go on to direct “Species”, “Dante’s Peak”, “Thirteen Days” and “The Bank Job”. All three talents and director Donaldson would go on to bigger projects after “Cocktail”.

But here we are in 2012. nearly 25 years later and “Cocktail” had been a movie I have long forgotten and I have to admit that I’m a bit more critical of this film than I was back then.  While the late ’80s is showcased in this film and Tom Cruise and Elisabeth Shue had great chemistry, I know the allure back in the ’80s was that “Cocktail” was a Tom Cruise film and the vibe back then was that everyone wanted to see a Tom Cruise film.

The film was a great vehicle for Tom Cruise but I felt it could have utilized Elisabeth Shue’s character, Jordan, much more.  If anything, the person who help make this movie work was actor Bryan Brown.  His acting performance as the former friend/mentor Doug Coughlin made the film feel real.  His character made you feel that he had been around the block, had experienced the best and the worse of times and wanted to prepare Brian for what awaits him.  While not necessarily sleezy, Doug is the bonafide cockblocker to Brian’s more timid and amiable character.

For Brian, this is a young man learning from his error, his mistakes and he makes quite a bit of them throughout this film.

As far as the film is concerned, I suppose now that I’m older and the magic I felt for the film had worn off, I felt that “Cocktail” was more of an average film at best.  The whole hype and hoopla with Tom Cruise and its musical soundtrack really made this film better than it really was at the time and I suppose this film was another case of films that I cherished a lot during my younger years, just to watch it now and ask myself “Did I really liked that movie?”.  Or was it because I was a teenager who just loved watching Elisabeth Shue?  Nevertheless, the film was good, but not great.

And unfortunately, I felt the same way about the Blu-ray.  For fans of the film, the biggest reason to buy this Blu-ray is for its HD video quality and lossless soundtrack but here are no special features included with this Blu-ray release.

Overall, “Cocktail” was an ’80s film that captivated me as a teenager, but not so much today.  The film does embody the late ’80s, its screenplay, its acting… it was OK, but the magically allure that this film had on me is now gone and I wonder if other people who grew up watching this film will feel similar to how I feel watching “Cocktail” today.  Perhaps if the Blu-ray release had more content, I would have enjoyed this film a lot more.  But it’s pretty much a standard barebones Blu-ray release and in this day and age, people expect bonus content.

Still, “Cocktail” is worth watching, especially if you grew up and are nostalgic for the ’80s or were a big Tom Cruise or Elisabeth Shue fan!