Risky Business (1983)

Director: Paul Brickman Cast: Tom Cruise, Rebecca De Mornay, Bronson Pinchot, Curtis Armstrong, Joe Pantoliano

When his parents leave him home alone, high school student Joel takes his friend’s advice and decides to make the most of it. However, he gets into some trouble with a call girl and things start to spiral out of control.

So going in I thought this movie was a comedy- and to be fair, most things I’ve read say that it is. Over-confident teenager is left with the house to himself and gets into some silly japes with his friends, while managing to get everything back in order just in time for his parents get back. While that generally is the list of the film, it didn’t quite pan out how I’d imagined. The film starts off innocently enough- teenage boy doesn’t know how to make a microwave dinner, ho ho ho- but then all of a sudden he decides to invite a prostitute round like it’s no big deal- what?! Where did that come from?? Is that regular behaviour for high school students in America or something?! So yeah, that happens and then he gets “involved” with her and they end up running a brothel from his house.

The whole thing just felt totally unrealistic and, well, stupid. It escalates and gets kind of dark pretty suddenly and is just plain weird. I feel like it would have made more sense if it was more clearly defined as a comedy, but it’s really not and the fact that it’s so serious is a little disturbing. What certainly doesn’t help is the weird soundtrack, composed by Tangerine Dream- the ambience is more Bladerunner than Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. While it’s an 80s movie, it doesn’t really seem to fit with all those other Golden Age classics. Basically, it would sit better with me if it was just funnier.

Did I like this film? I mean, I sat through it and didn’t hate it, but I probably wouldn’t watch it again. In terms of the actual quality of the film-making, there’s not really much to complain about but the vibe feels off. There are some messages in there such as obsession with making money and moving from high school into the real world, but it’s not an enjoyable watch at times. It’s the movie that launched Tom Cruise but I prefer him in other stuff.

Risky Business isn’t family viewing and I wouldn’t want to watch it with my parents. I’m not sure I would go out of my way to recommend it to anyone I know, but if you’re intrigued I would say give it a go and see what you make of it.

2.5 stars

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