A 21 year-old Tom Cruise was already showing signs of star power when he played the lead for the first time in the 1983 box office hit and culturally iconic RISKY BUSINESS.
Cruise is great and believable as young high school senior Joel. Focused, driven and never wavering from his studies, he takes his friend Miles' (Curtis Armstrong) advice to just say "WTF" for once and relax.
Living in a wealthy Chicago suburb, Joel finds his parents away for a long weekend as that advice rings in his head, with all the pressures of finals and college interviews mounting.
On a whim, Joel decides to call a female escort to the house. When she arrives in the perfect fantasy form of Lana (a gorgeous Rebecca De Mornay) his world spins quickly out of control.
I hadn't seen the film in years and was quickly reminded of just how many legendary scenes and lines it holds, including "Porsche, there is NO substitute" and Cruise's narration over the dream sequences.
It's very R rated, with blatant sex and nudity, but its telling that for a film whose entire last act takes place in a makeshift brothel, the only sex shown is between Joel and Lana.
With big laughs throughout, Joel's adventures push the boundaries further and further as his one night of breaking the rules ripples out into bigger and bigger problems.
By the time the gentleman from Princeton (Richard Masur) shows up at Joel's in the middle of the biggest flesh for hire business venture in the history of the Chicago suburbs, the laughs are fast and frequent.
Cruise holds the entire film together in his first starring role, somehow being so centered that the madness around him becomes believable. He looks like he's 16 but already owns the screen in his first big hit.
De Mornay is beautiful in her best film role and some of her quiet moments with Cruise (on and off trains) are terrific.
The reliable Joe Pantoliano (The Matrix, The Fugitive) plays Lana's pimp for every bit of comedy and menace possible, and he's just as scary (and smart) as he is funny.
Writer/Director Paul Brickman created something very different here and he was never able to recreate his success, languishing on lesser films or an occasional mainstream writing gig.
Watching RISKY BUSINESS thirty four years after it's release, that seems like a shame. Brickman's created a terrific movie that seems to capture the 80's perfectly in its yuppies and neon bright colors, while telling truths about lust and desire that ring true in any decade.
As Joel says, "It seems to me that if there were any logic to our language, trust would be a four letter word."
It's a lesson Joel learns over and over here, generating plenty of adult laughs along the way.
RISKY BUSINESS earns a lot of cash in one evening and an A.