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Risky Business

2 Ratings: 2.0
A movie directed by Paul Brickman

Joel Goodson (Tom Cruise, in one of his earliest roles) is an average high school senior, apprehensive about starting college, especially with his average test scores. He decides to spice up his last high school summer by taking advantage of his parents … see full wiki

Tags: Movies, Comedies
Director: Paul Brickman
Release Date: 1983
MPAA Rating: R
1 review about Risky Business

Risky Business: Pretty Woman for Teenage Boys

  • Aug 11, 2004
Pros: Cruise, style, fun, sexy

Cons: a little slow at times, morality

The Bottom Line: Grab your Ray Bans but forget your morals and sense of realism.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot.

When you’re a teenager, one of the most exciting things that can happen is being left home alone when your parents go on vacation. Think of the possibilities for debauchery!

Like any high school student with the house to himself, Joel Goodsen (Tom Cruise) wants to take advantage of his newfound freedom. In Paul Brickman’s seminal (in more ways than one) teenage comedy, Joel finds that reality can be more exhilarating than his fantasy life if he says, “f*ck it” and just goes for it. Sex, drugs, car chases, pimps, and more sex. It’s certainly more fun than taking your SATs.

Though it’s more than 20 years old, Risky Business (1983) still hits on the dreams of middle class suburbanites. It’s extremely unrealistic (in the same way that Pretty Woman is), but the only part that feels dated is the famous dancing in his underwear scene that made Tom Cruise a star.

As his surname implies, Joel has been a good kid. He has decent SAT scores, belongs to a young entrepreneur club with his dorky friend Barry (Bronson Pinchot, a.k.a Cousin Balki), and hopes to attend Princeton in the fall. “I trust you,” his mother tells him before leaving on vacation.

Since Joel can’t even get laid in his dreams and fantasies, his parents don’t have much to worry about. On his first night alone in the house, we see Joel making himself a whiskey and Coke, eating a TV dinner, and dancing and lip synching in the living room in his tighty whities to Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll.” Things continue innocently as Joel and Barry work on their message-taking invention for the business club. Someone gets lucky in the house that night, but it’s Joel’s friend Rutherford (Richard Masur) rather than Joel. Life is unfair.

Everything changes when Joel’s friend Miles (Curtis Armstrong, who looks like he could be in The Strokes) phones a prostitute named Jackie whose ad he finds in the back of a newspaper. Miles gives the hooker Joel’s address and goes home. To Joel’s dismay, the prostitute who arrives is more Jackie Robinson than Jackie O, but the callgirl is incredibly understanding and gives Joel the phone number of one of her colleagues, Lana (Rebecca De Mornay), who is young, blonde, and the girl of Joel’s dreams.

The reverie comes to an abrupt end in the morning when Lana asks Joel for $300. While he is at the bank to cash a savings bond, Lana makes off with one of Joel’s mother’s prized tchotchkes, a crystal egg. Joel convinces the neurotic Miles to go into Chicago to try to track Lana down. While I was afraid that Risky Business would turn into Dude, Where’s My Mother’s Egg?, Joel, Barry, Mile, and co. have other adventures, as well. However, Risky Business is a tad short on plot, moving along at a dreamy pace and valuing style over realism. Slipping on a pair of Ray Ban sunglasses and driving his father’s Porsche, Joel gains the confident swagger every guy wishes they could pull off. It’s all about attitude.

While prostitution isn’t quite as glamorized as it is in Pretty Woman, I was still mildly disturbed by the message of Risky Business, but mainly it’s just fun. In real life, Guido “the killer pimp” (Joe Pantoliano) probably would have ended up seriously hurting Joel, at the very least, and Lana would have been interested in a harder drug than innocently smoking pot and eating ice cream. Lana is the perfect mix of purity and sexiness that every straight man dreams of.

The most unrealistic part of the movie, however, is the initial sex scene between Joel and Lana. In Fear of Flying, Erica Jong talks about the fantasy of the “zipless f*ck” where everything goes perfectly. There’s no guilt, no consequences, no awkwardness in removing a bra or unbuttoning jeans; it’s the kind of sex that never happens in real life but usually happens in the movies. Lana arrives at Joel’s house while he is sleeping. Since she hasn’t rung the doorbell, it initially feels like a dream, complete with soft lighting. Her dress seems to magically slip off, aided by a warm breeze, and Joel miraculously loses his teenage awkwardness, and they get it on in several rooms in the empty house. A real life virgin who was faced with a gorgeous woman probably couldn’t even… well... The Door in the Floor shows what would really happen.

But, hey, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of fantasy, which is just what Risky Business is. The well-known, steamy train scene might even spice up your own daydreams.


Viewing Format: VHS
Video Occasion: Better than Watching TV
Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age

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