Stories are about change, but movies don’t handle all changes equally well.
On one hand, nothing beats them for showing how a thriving metropolis can be converted into a radioactive heap of charcoal and robot-scraps.
When it comes to changes in character, however, film isn’t so hot. So give 1983's Risky Business extra credit. Not only is it lots of fun, its lead’s transformation is almost believable.
With college interviews looming, high schooler Tom Cruise just wants to play it safe. But when his parents go on vacation for the week, his friend convinces him to have a little fun. So Cruise springs for a night with high-class call girl Rebecca De Mornay — and soon finds himself in some very deep trouble.
Risky Business was the perfect movie for Cruise. After such a long career of action heroes, it’s a shock to see Cruise as an uncertain teen who is scared of women. He makes it work, though, because as easy as it is to forget, he can be a strong actor.
But Risky Business has much more going for it than one of the top stars of his generation. It’s written and directed by Paul Brickman, a talented albeit curious figure.
As his directorial debut, Risky Business made $60 million domestic on a $6 million budget. With a profit margin like that, you would think Hollywood would chain him to a camera until those folks got a robot clone. Yet, he didn’t direct his second movie for another seven years, and that was his last to date.
That is a bummer, because Risky Business is sneaky-great. While most movies about young men who learn to wear sunglasses and make out with foxy ladies take place over a single drug-dealer and shootout-filled night, Brickman’s take is more grounded. Its pace is gradual, its characters plausible. Brickman also has got style, too, mixing in dreamlike sequences and genuine thoughtfulness about Cruise’s passage to adulthood.
With a charismatic star and a fun story, it’s well-worth returning to.
* Contact Ed Robertson at email@example.com.