Saturday, March 14, 2015
JEFF OF THE CINEFILES & UNFINISHED BUSINESS: HALL OF FAME: FILE #38: RISKY BUSINESS (1983)
Written & Directed By: Paul Brickman
Cinematography By: Bruce Sutrees & Reynaldo Villalobos
Editor: Richard Chew
Music By: Tangerine Dream
Cast: Tom Cruise, Rebecca De Mornay, Joe Pantoliano Curtis Armstong, Bronson Pinchot, Richard Masur, Raphael Sbarge, Bruce A.Young, Megan Mullally, Nicholas Pryor, Janet Carroll
A suburban Chicago teenager's parents leave on vacation, and he cuts loose. An unauthorised trip in his father's Porsche means a sudden need for lots of money, which he raises in a creative way
A perfect time capsule of the 1980's the place and the time as well as being a trend setter for ray ban sunglasses. I can even admit the film was at least a fashion trendsetter when I saw it I wanted to dress in a similar way more into my teens when disheveled was more in. Though I always wanted to wear ray ban sunglasses ever since I saw the film at a way too young age to fully grasp the films themes and actions
The film is truly all about the American Dream. It is subversive as it uses the 89's capitalism to tell not only a love story that is absent of emotional displays but also the beginning of a boy coming of age into a man who could be a entrepreneur.
That is at the heart of why I admire the film. It's a rough around the edges coming of age story that takes place more around a preppy kid and while it stays mostly in a fantasy land while trying to portray a certain reality. It stays oddly sedate and unemotional. Yet still makes you care about the characters and the things they are going through. Even Lana our female lead stays a mysterious femme fatale who is almost like a ghost throughout even though she is the instigator of everything to a point.
The crazy character of guide the killer pimp (the name says it all) like a character you wish had his own side film. Seems to be the only true threat to this film and the character coming close to a dangerous reality though rather polite in most of his face to face dealings with him. His menace and anger is always hinted at and we see the damage he is capable of. Played memorably by Joe Pantoliano with the right amount of charm and menace. Enough to be tacky, civilized and low rent. Yet he scariest thing of all is that he can fit in and not be noticed as he truly is smarter and hipper to the game then the lead character Joel is, who believes he can reason and out deal him.
Richard Dreyfuss was considered for the role of Guido.
The film includes the classic scene of wild abandon done when young and no one else's is there to witness it. It would be a classic YouTube clip now if it was reality. Rather than a classic lip synching scene in his underwear. Which drives young ladies wild and also gives us an intimacy with the character.
What also might be quite attractive about the film are that it’s sex scenes while a bit raunchy are filmed more like dreams and fantasies come true rather than a graphic disappointing reality. It might be artifice it might be how the lead sees and feels it in his head rather than the facts of the situation. Making it more romantic then it actually is as she is his temptation and also dream girl. Who might not feel the same way about him, but finds she can manipulate him how she wants him. As he is more naive but probably better looking and younger than her usual clientele. Though it helps to inform why he can't resist Lana no matter what. As she always adds a bit of mystery and danger. She also seems to be close of not the same age as him and yet couldn't be any more different.
Why Rebecca De Mornay never went into bigger and better who knows he choices she made the offers she got. It’s a shame as she is hair as relented and eye catching.
Kim Basinger turned down the role of Lana, because she didn't like the script. Sharon Stone auditioned for the role of Lana.
This is The film that made Tom cruise a star as he had never truly been this open, vulnerable nor in a film quite as raunchy and senseless. Though a teen comedy at heart. This film Always felt more adult and mature then it's counterparts. Though it dipped into juvenile antics and humor now and again, that was more a result of the characters not knowing any Better.
The stillness and distance the director takes feels a bit kubrick-Ian as scenes are vivid yet simple. As scenes are vivid yet simple and quiet with a score by TANGERINE DREAM that feels electric yet sets a vice tone. Even though the film stays pretty much in closed space.
Director Paul Brickman only made one other film MEN DON'T LEAVE that is hard to find and seems to have only flirted with one other film that eventually became THE LAST SHOT starring Matthew Broderick and Alec Baldwin. It’s a shame as i would have loved to see other works by him and I am sure I am not the only one. It just shocks me how much style and detail he put into a film that could have easily been a disposable teen comedy. Though he has written plenty of screenplays that have made it to the screen which he didn't direct.
The film had a profound effect on me. I watched it many times at an age I probably shouldn't have. As it took me nearly a decade of watching it to fully understand and get a full scope of what was happening and the full ramifications of the situations.
I can admit that this film was very influential to me as I watched it probably when I was way too young to truly understand it and handle it. Though I remember ton cruise being an inspiration to me in my younger years like junior high school and wanting to guess preppy just like him. Which is ironic as in that time the look was out and not cool, plus in my youth my mother always wanted to dress me that way and I resisted. Now it was all I wanted to wear. I wanted to also always wear the same ray ban sunglasses until I got older and became more influenced by Jason Patric's in THE LOST BOYS.
I even remember just seeing the poster and previews for it on HBO and trying to emulate the look as the film was going to premiere on cable and I didn't see it in theaters and managed to find a replica of the sunglasses and used a fake gun cigarette to complete the look.
Tom Cruise and me have been off and on over the years as there was a period of time where I refused to watch any of his films. Then along came JERRY MAGUIRE which I resisted at first but eventually watched in a $2 theater and he finally convinced me to give him another chance. I haven't really left his side except for a film here or there or usually after a disappointment of a film like OBLIVION which I saw in theaters or KNIGHT and DAY which looked bad in the preview and prices to be all of just ok.
Though strangely this film is very strange as it has a story line really about learning to use pimping as a business plan and how business rules apply to most careers. Now other then outright comedies such as DOCTOR DETROIT and NIGHT SHIFT this type of storyline hadn't been used for Caucasian characters except in the case of the previous two films broad comedy and what was acceptable as these characters being out of their element and standing out in that crowd supposedly. This film though a comedy took it more seriously and tried to show a seedy side but make it much more a clinical fantasy of sorts. That nary has a minority character and considering the world and neighborhoods as well as the climate. i can understand why. Especially as if there were a greater minority presence it would seem more offensive and stereotypical. Unless it was truly written as inoffensively and well enough to try and go against what was expected.
The film influenced me making me attracted to troublesome elusive women with street smarts to a point I am sure other films helped to support that vision, but I believe this was the initial forefront.
The film made Tom Cruise a star love him or hate him at this point he is a screen icon at least in my eyes. He also will also be one of the bastions of the epitome of cool.
Among the actors who auditioned for the role of Joel were Tom Hanks, John Cusack and Nicolas Cage.
Timothy Hutton was the first choice for the role of Joel, but turned it down.
The dance scene where Joel dances to "Old Time Rock N' Roll" was completely improvised. In the script Tom Cruise was simply instructed to "dance to rock music"
Sean Penn even has a cameo in the film.
The reason for the placement of the Porsche in the film is that his father has that kind of money. He appreciates expensive beautiful objects and offers something of expense for his son to desire above all else and fantasize about. It also may be subliminal that his father has it as a mid-life crisis symbol that shows he might have a desire in his heart that is hinted at yet never shown. It is also cruise's chariot into dark waters of danger and pleasure.
In other ways the film influences me greatly.
Classic scenes that are unforgettable. The slow motion run and dive for the crystal egg and The submerging of the Porsche
I know this might sound more exciting then you may remember. The first scene I wrote about above sounds like it belongs more in a sci-fi fantasy film.
What is interesting is that the characters are pretty much preppies, future young republicans and/or yuppies and though they get down and dirty. They embrace capitalism making this a comedy for the people of the 80's that embraces Ronald Reagan's ideals.
Writer/Director Paul Brickman had a completely different ending for the film with a rather pessimistic tone, with Joel still being accepted to Princeton, he and Lana sit on the roof of a building overlooking the city pondering his future and hers, and for once Lana lets her guard down. Lana says she didn't set him up but he doesn't believe her. And while Joel asks for her embrace, reluctantly does so. The studio however, wanted a "feel good" ending, because this was the popular theme of teen movies at the time, so both versions were shot and shown to a test audience and it was agreed that their preference would be the ending for the film.
The characters dressing so preppy though they are teenagers making the older actors playing teenagers more obvious, but then again it influenced me as now that I am older to crave to dress in that manner more often.
This is a film I wish I could remake but with all that is good about the film it makes it near impossible as this film was very much of it's time period that came along at the right time. Whose influence and manner would be difficult to completely copy and have the same kind of effect as well as different morals and political correctness.
Though it has inspired a few copies or borrowers if not downright thrives. None have ever had the ability to truly inhabit it's skills and power.
THE GIRL NEXT DOOR tried and so far has come the closest of being noteworthy. Yet has it's own strengths. It also plays strangely cleaner though it's material is raunchier.
One of the reasons it is memorable is that it’s erotic sensual and dirty at heart with it’s sex scenes that show sex is the prime motivator for most of his actions. Yet the film is never too gratuitous nor smarmy it's tasteful while fulfilling the needs of it's audiences.
The sex scenes actually feel more like music videos. The over the top wind of the first one with the wind blowing the blinds open and open windows throughout the hosier with lighting flashing outside to illuminate the room and the slow motion with the writhing music rising with each second. First time Experiencing Tangerine Dream score that has made me a lifelong fan of theirs and collecting their other albums especially the scores for films.
He really achieves the American Dream and barely gets his hands dirty, he had to work hard though and he learns valuable lessons as well as about business while throwing ethics to a degree out the window.
The brothel scene feels like a culture shock in the cleanest way possible. It also plays like a teenage fantasy.
What sets the film over the top For me In fandom is that Curtis Armstrong plays a pivotal role as one of Joel's friends and at first seems to be the cool friend who knows it all bit as the film continues he seems to be in awe of not only the situations he finds himself in with his friend but also with how his friend had changed and now has become more the know it all teacher to him. In my eyes Mr. Armstrong can do no wrong when it comes to acting roles. So he is like an added bonus a preview and cleaner version of his booger character from REVENGE OF THE NERDS.
Despite playing a teenager, Curtis Armstrong was actually thirty during filming of this movie.
Tom Cruise is truly so far, is either one of the last or a modernization of the classic movie star. Some of the reasons as to why he has been so endearing to us over the years is that while we haven't watched him necessarily grow up n screen we have watched him mature and like the characters he played rises to the challenge and usually wins. Because of that we feel a closeness or familiarity when it comes to him like family. And just like family we sometimes forget his value or take him for granted and once in awhile we have to or he reminds us of why we shouldn't and why we were fans in the first place. He wasn't just a place holder a cute face always trying to prove himself. He did many times over and with work that finally left him. To make it seem all so easy.
He has become iconic as that we know his usual type of role and even his acting tricks or trademarks that usually come with each role. You can take a handful of movies that he can be remembered for and he is just familiar. No matter how old he gets he has a powerful intensity that is softened by his boyish charm. Making him seem like pardon the pun one of the last living boy scouts and what they stand for a certain kind of Americana. Values, morals and a can do spirit to achieve and help your neighbor.