Bettering himself with a business degree, Brian Flanagan (Cruise) takes part time work as a cocktail waiter and is hooked by the apparently glamorous world of bar-mats and sticky linoleum. He ships his skills to Jamaica, falls in love and spouts some god-awful poetry.
Cocktail must be one of the most irritating films to emerge for quite some time. What's so dreadful is its predictability—it's horribly apparent from frame one that by the time the words "The End" appear, Tom Cruise is destined to end up with the loot, the girl, a glittering barroom career and his morals just about intact.
There's some light relief from Bryan Brown as the dry-witted, laconic bartender Doug, but the feeling is that Brown and Cruise had much more fun making the film (they trawled the bars of New York for several weeks for the purposes of "research") than we will ever have watching it. In fact, Cocktail's remarkable success can only be put down to one factor: the extraordinarily charismatic allure of Tom Cruise, all gleaming teeth and Hawaiian shirt. (Interestingly, this was his last film before he made that giant leap from Brat Pack member to serious actor in Rain Man).
Cocktail is perhaps useful as slab of mindless, extremely decorative, fantasy entertainment (when was the last time you applauded a bar man! for doing a circus act—as the patrons in the film do— instead of just getting on with serving you a gin and tonic?).
Cruise oozes as much charm as in Top Gun and The Colour of Money, but the mix of bar-acrobatics and Caribbean love isn't anywhere near strong enough to get you drunk.
Reviewed by Lola Borg