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WARNER

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Paul Brickman
Cast:
Tom Cruise, Rebecca De Mornay, Joe Pantoliano, Richard Masur, Bronson Pinchot, Curtis Armstrong, Nicholas Pryor, Janet Carroll
Writing Credits:
Paul Brickman

Tagline:
There's a time for playing it safe and a time for Risky Business.

Synopsis:
Joel Goodson is the type of teenager who makes his parents proud: he's nice, handsome, intelligent, and even principled. But when Joel's parents leave town for a few days, a series of events occur that will change Joel's sheltered life. For starters, he meets Lana, a hooker who proceeds to deflower our young hero, and then suggests he turn his home into a house of prostitution for one evening. Joel agrees, and just as sexy hookers and randy guys turn Joel's house upside down, a representative from Princeton University arrives, to interview Joel! How Joel handles this and other crises (losing his dad's Porsche, the loss of all his furniture, falling in love with a prostitute) will alter Joel's life forever.

Box Office:
Budget
$6.2 million.
Opening Weekend
$4.275 million on 670 screens.
Domestic Gross
$63.541 million.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Surround 2.0
Spanish Monaural
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 124 min.
Price: $19.96
Release Date: 9/16/2008

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Paul Brickman, Producer Jon Avnet and Actor Tom Cruise
• ”The Dream Is Always the Same: The Story of Risky Business” Documentary
• Original Screen Tests
• Director’s Cut of the Final Scene
• Theatrical Trailer


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RELATED REVIEWS


Risky Business: 25th Anniversary Edition (1983)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 12, 2008)

Today’s Fact That Makes Me Feel Old: it’s now been a full 25 years since Tom Cruise became a star. 1983’s Risky Business wasn’t Cruise’s first flick; indeed, he’d been in fairly high-profile efforts like 1981’s Taps and The Outsiders. His charismatic turn in Business brought him mass attention, though, and launched him on the path to his current status as a Hollywood icon.

Actually, it took Cruise a few years to become more than a one-trick pony. 1983’s follow-up effort All the Right Moves did okay, mostly because teen girls who fell for Cruise in Business flocked to it. After that, Cruise appeared in 1985’s flop fantasy Legend but he didn’t hit the top of the box office charts – and cement his status as a movie star – until 1986’s Top Gun.

In Risky Business, Cruise plays high school student Joel Goodsen. A senior who frets about college, his future and life in general, he always plays it safe. This changes when his parents go out of town for a few days. At the urging of his friend Miles (Curtis Armstrong), Joel manifests some mild acts of independence/rebellion, all of which culminate in Miles’ recruitment of a prostitute.

Joel resists this, but he eventually changes his tune. Though his initial encounter goes awry, he calls Lana (Rebecca De Mornay). He enjoys his night with her but comes up with insufficient funds when he needs to pay her. She takes his mom’s valuable crystal egg as compensation.

This starts a topsy-turvy few days for Joel. After she breaks with her “manager” Guido (Joe Pantoliano), she insinuates herself into Joel’s life and eventually comes up with a plan to bring her friends to his house so they can rake in the bucks from Joel’s wealthy pals. This starts even more wild events as Joel spends time with Lana and sees his conservative life change.

Given all the water – and wacko behavior – under the bridge since 1983, it can become tough to view Cruise’s performance here on its own merits. Back in 1983, Cruise was a virtual unknown, so we couldn’t pin all that baggage on him.

If we do try to look at Cruise’s work through objective eyes, I think his performance holds up well. The man definitely earned his stardom, and we can see why his appearance here endeared him to audiences. Cruise does a good job with Joel’s conservative side, and his trademark charisma comes out when the character learns to loosen up along the way.

Actually, Cruise’s flamboyance almost harpoons things at times, as I think Joel occasionally handles his transition into smooth-talking pimp a little too smoothly. One minute he frets about his future, and the next he leads a high-speed car chase through the streets of Chicago. Joel goes from one extreme to the other without a great deal of logic or fluidity. Still, Cruise’s positives outweigh the negatives. Someone else probably could have made the changes more believable, but Cruise’s charm helps carry the movie, so that acts as compensation.

Indeed, Business provides a surprisingly realistic take on its subject – or at least at realistic as a movie with such an outlandish plot can be. Make no mistake: this is a teen fantasy. Joel acts as a proxy for all the kids under pressure from school and parents to be perfect and make massive decisions for the future while they’re still figuring out who they are. Joel stands in for all the teens who just want to say “what the fuck”, bang hot girls and drive fast cars.

When subjected to scrutiny, the material doesn’t hold up as remotely believable, but the film makes us accept it anyway. That’s because Business doesn’t follow the expected teen comedy patterns. Usually a movie like this would play everything for big laughs. For instance, the scene when the college recruiter interviews Joel normally would include all sorts of racy wackiness, and we’d get broad gags from his seduction by the prostitutes. Instead, the flick keeps things subtle and doesn't tip its comedic hand.

That tone dominates Business. The film prompts some laughs, but they’re not from wild shenanigans. Yes, it remains an absurd plot, but the flick keeps things surprisingly grounded. Honestly, the movie often feels like an update on The Graduate. It doesn’t remake or rip off that classic, but it has the same tone and character emphasis.

It also shows its era, as those of us who were teens in the Reagan years can clearly relate to its money-hungry characters. Granted, I don’t think wealth has gone out of fashion over the last 25 years, but there was a certain “greed is good” vibe to the Eighties that I don’t think has resurfaced, at least not in the same way. That attitude comes through clearly in this movie.

But that doesn’t make Business dated – or at least not really dated. Sure, it looks and sounds like the Eighties, but the message and the attitude remain universal. If anything, kids today undergo many more pressures than we had 25 years ago. Schools are more competitive and force teens to make even bigger sacrifices, so I’m sure they can identify with a guy who manages to mildly rebel against this.

I can’t say that Risky Business is a great movie, and how much it appeals to you may depend on your stage of life. Clearly the flick spoke to me a lot more when I was 16 than it does now that I’m 41. Nonetheless, it provides an engaging, surprisingly mature look at a teen fantasy that continues to satisfy after 25 years.


The DVD Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B/ Bonus B

Risky Business appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. While I thought the transfer replicated the source material fairly well, it remained a lackluster presentation.

Sharpness varied. The movie usually looked acceptably detailed but rarely much more than that. Not too many scenes looked really ill-defined, but few came across as particularly distinctive, as most of Business was acceptably concise and no more. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement was minimal. Source flaws were minor as well. I noticed the occasional speck, streak or mark, but only a handful of these manifested themselves through the otherwise clean image.

Colors seemed erratic. They displayed the usual Eighties murkiness much of the time, but they also occasionally looked reasonably vibrant and distinct. For the most part, the hues came across as somewhat flat, though the daytime exterior shots looked better. Black levels tended to appear somewhat inky, while shadow detail was a little too dense much of the time. Interiors seemed fairly muddy. All of this fit the profile of many Eighties movies, but I thought the transfer did enough right to still merit a “B-“. Though this wasn’t a particularly attractive film, there wasn’t much that could be done with the source material.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Risky Business seemed pretty solid. Music used the speakers in the most dynamic fashion, as the score and songs demonstrated active stereo imaging. Effects were a lesser partner, though they occasionally came to the fore. For instance, some train shots provided nice movement, and they also blended well with the back channels. The surrounds didn’t have a lot to do here, but they reinforced the front and sporadically threw in unique information such as during those train sequences.

Audio quality remained positive. Speech appeared reasonably natural and concise, and I noticed no edginess or other problems. Effects could come across as somewhat lifeless, but they usually appeared pretty accurate, and the louder elements presented surprising depth. For example, the train roared to life in a manner more satisfying than I anticipated. Music showed nice range and definition, as both score and songs boasted good dynamics. This was a soundtrack without great ambition, but it satisfied.

When we head to the disc’s extras, we open with an audio commentary from writer/director Paul Brickman, producer Jon Avnet, and actor Tom Cruise. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific chat that looks at cast and performances, the script and its creation, sets and locations, relationships during the shoot, music, and various anecdotes from the production.

On the negative side, the commentary sags on a few occasions, so we end up with more dead air than I’d like. There’re also the inevitable bouts of praise and happy talk. Nonetheless, the track includes a good examination of the film. It comes as a pleasant surprise that the three participants chat together, as I expected an edited, non-running piece. This ends up as a generally positive discussion.

The Dream Is Always the Same: The Story of Risky Business lasts 29 minutes, 27 seconds as it mixes movie clips, archival materials and interviews. We hear from Brickman, Cruise, Avnet, filmmakers Cameron Crowe and Amy Heckerling, film critic Peter Travers, producer Steve Tisch, film historian Stephen Tropiano, and actors Bronson Pinchot, Curtis Armstrong, Rebecca De Mornay, and Joe Pantoliano. “Dream” examines the teen movie marketplace of the early Eighties and how Business fit into the era, the film’s story/themes and approach to the material, Brickman’s directorial debut, the script and attempts to find backing, casting and performances, music and visual choices, various scene specifics, the flick’s original ending, and the movie’s reception.

While not an all-encompassing program, “Dream” manages to offer a good overview of the production. I’d probably like to hear a little more from the various actors and other participants, especially since we already learn so much from Brickman, Cruise and Avnet in the commentary. Nonetheless, “Dream” relates a nice summary of various issues related to the movie, so it satisfies.

Next we find Original Screen Tests. These feature Cruise and Rebecca De Mornay and they last a total of 14 minutes, 33 seconds. We see a little of these in “Dream”, but here we get a more complete view of their interactions. The tests mostly feature Cruise and De Mornay together. We also get some comments from Heckerling, Tisch, Cruise, Brickman, Avnet, and De Mornay.

Those notes provide some good perspective, but the tests themselves remain the main attraction. The info comes in the first three and a half minutes or so, which means the tests themselves fill about 11 minutes. They’re very fun to see.

In addition to the movie’s trailer, we get the Director’s Cut of the Final Scene. This seven-minute and 24-second clip shows how the flick would’ve ended if Brickman had gotten his way and not been overruled by the suits. Both the “Director’s Cut” and the theatrical ending are actually quite similar, and much of the 7:24 clip comes from end credits. The main difference is that the DC presents a more ambiguous and bittersweet finish the film. Is it better? Maybe, maybe not, but it’s interesting to see.

For better or for worse, Risky Business made Tom Cruise a star. His performance continues to charm, as does the movie itself. It shows some weaknesses but still works. The DVD offers acceptable picture, pretty good audio, and a mix of interesting supplements. Business remains an iconic flick after 25 years, and this release serves it reasonably well.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 7
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main