Cocktail (Blu-ray Review)

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).  Academy Award nominee Tom Cruise (Oscar Nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role for Jerry McGuire in 1997) stars in Cocktail as Brian Flanagan, one of Cruise’s most memorable films from earlier in his career. This summer, Cocktail is available digitally restored and presented for the first time ever on Blu-ray High Definition.



Cocktail is the story of young Brian Flannagan (Tom Cruise).  After leaving the military, Brian heads to his uncle’s bar for a little friendly advice, hoping for a free beer. Turns out, a visit from his nephew doesn’t even rate a free drink – his uncle is a business man. Brian heads to the city and stumbles into a job at TGI Friday’s.  He has experience tending bar at his uncle’s place but it unprepared for the pace and action at this bar.  Coughlin (Bryan Brown) is impressed with Flannagan even though he thinks he did a horrible job. Coughlin takes Flannagan under his wing and teaches him how to tend bar and how to turn it into quite a show.  At the same time, Bryan attempts, and fails at Business School.

Quickly, the duo are behind the bar, flipping bottles in choreographed routines that thrill the crowd.  The owner of the hottest club in town, recruits the men to tend bar at his place.  The packed house is more concerned with the poetry being shouted to the crowd than ordering drinks, forcing Bryan to hop up on the bar and make up his own poem just to re-direct the crowd’s attention.  It works, and he also gets the attention of a beautiful photographer, Coral (Gina Gershon).  Coral and Brian become a fast couple.  While playing basketball, Coughlin doubts their relationship.  He bets Brian that she’ll be in bed with some other guy by the end of the week.  That guy, turns out to be Coughlin, possibly just to win a bet.

Flannagan has big dreams of opening a bar of his own.  Although it was Coral’s idea, Brian heads to Jamaica to make and save some cash after losing his girl to his best friend.  Brian has a nice little set up serving drinks to tourists on the beach.  One such tourist, Jordan (Elizabeth Shue) runs to his bar for help when her friend passes out on the beach after drinking too much champagne. Jordan is an artist from New York on vacation.  A romance quickly develops and all is well until Coughlin shows up.  He has landed a rich, beautiful wife and rubs it in Brian’s face. Furthermore, he bets Brian that he couldn’t land a rich chick…and Brian goes home with one.  Jordan finds out and leaves Jamaica without a word to Brian.  Back in New York, Brian attempts to explain himself to Jordan but his plans fail miserably when he learns that she is pregnant.  To make matters worse, Brian soon learns that Jordan is herself a rich chick and her father tries to buy him off.  Brian has to prove himself to Jordan and is given a push to do so when he loses his friend.

One thing Cocktail can be proud of is making a whole new generation listen to their dad’s music.  I remember my friends and I singing “Kokomo” (thinking we’d just discovered this new band called the Beach Boys) and dancing to the “Hippie Hippie Shake”.  The soundtrack is definitely memorable and the movie itself was pretty good too.  It’s not Oscar worthy or even remarkably clever, but I enjoyed watching the love story between Tom Cruise and Elizabeth Shue and found them to be a very believable couple.  All the parts were well cast, and well played.


The Blu-ray back cover boasts enhanced high definition picture, and as the opening scene rolled, I was unimpressed.  Whenever the menu is a static shot, I always wonder what I’m in for. If I didn’t know better I would have assumed I was watching this on DVD.  As the movie continues, the 1080p high definition wide-screen 1.85:1 picture reveals a softer grain and an overall decent picture.  While I did expect more, the Blu-ray transfer appears to be an accurate representation of the original.  It’s probably unfair to expect too much.


Cocktail is presented in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio with subtitles in English SDH, French and Spanish.  Dialogue was clear and consistent throughout and the soundtrack was a significant contribution to the film.  Nothing about Cocktail on Blu-ray ray makes me want to rave about it or would make me suggest that you use this film to show off your surround sound system.  This is a predominately front centered soundtrack.

Special Features   

It’s rare to see a Blu-ray ray without a single special feature.  I would think that if they went to the trouble to do the transfer and release the movie on Blu-ray, they could scrounge up an interview or two. 

Final Thoughts  

Having not seen it in years (10+), Cocktail remains an enjoyable movie.  The final score is significantly decreased by the fact that there are no special features at all.  Cocktail is one of my favorite old school Tom Cruise movie even though there’s nothing spectacular to rave about.  I’m curious if my fond memories of watching it years ago relates to my viewing now.  Nostalgia may play a part in my enjoyment, and that might not be the case if I had watched it fresh.  Many things about the film, are very dated, reminding you how old the movie is, but again – I just don’t mind.  I didn’t think about it much, and I enjoyed the film and am glad to add it to the Tom Cruise section of my DVD/Blu-ray shelf.

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