Tag Archives: Risky Business

Potted Retro Film Review: Risky Business (1983)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Rebecca De Mornay, Joe Pantoliano

What’s it all about?
Cruise plays Joel, a suburban teenager who is on the one hand trying to get into college, but on the other, is just your typically horny kid whose primary concern is to get laid by a prostitute when his parents are away. Cue Lana, played by a sweet, butter-wouldn’t-melt Rebecca De Mornay.

The story escalates from one night of no-strings sex, to a stolen glass egg, to eventually Joel using his parents’ home as a makeshift brothel for a whole fleet of Lana’s colleagues to make some money. There’s a Porsche, a disgruntled pimp (called Guido, of course), and the whole thing is underpinned by the blossoming romance between Joel and Lana.

There are no real surprises here. There are some fun scenes, and the dialogue is on point, but it feels nothing like the benchmark title it is often considered to be. Cruise is on good early form, before he became a megastar a couple of years after this; and De Mornay is, well… she looks good, at least.

Watching it with the kids…
There are a couple of sex scenes here that you’ll want to avoid, and some stylised full frontal female nudity, done in the way that only a film made in the eighties could truly pull off. There’s also some bad language throughout. All things considered, given the reputation this has for my generation, it’s really very tame.

Verdict…
It had been many years since I last saw Risky Business, before this recent viewing. Was it as good as I remembered? No. For a comedy it’s not all that funny, and as a coming-of-age piece it has very few dramatic moments. I never feel the chemistry between Cruise and De Mornay, and their burgeoning relationship is clumsy and awkward at best. But as an early example of what the eighties was pushing in the teen genre – and before the market was flooded with this kind of thing – it’s hard to deny its influence and raw energy.

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