Home Alone with Cruise and De Mornay
Despite being best known for a young Tom Cruise dancing in his shirt and underwear to "Old Time Rock and Roll" and an equally young Rebecca De Mornay getting naked as a call girl, "Risky Business" is in fact a rather smart look at teenage life. It encompasses the fantasies, fears, freedom and to some extent consequences of actions of a young teenage man all wrapped up in some entertaining comedy.
When his parents go on holiday, Joel (Tom Cruise - Tropic Thunder) is left to look after the house and with the freedom to do what he likes finds his pretty normal life getting a bit wild when he finds himself spending the night with a call girl called Lana (Rebecca De Mornay - Wedding Crashers). Spotting an opportunity to make some money Lana asks Joel to become her pimp and use his empty home so that her friends can entertain his rich school friends. Which he agrees to having crashed his father's beloved Porsche into Lake Michigan and is desperate to make some quick cash to pay for its repair before his parents return.
Probably the most striking thing about "Risky Business" is that whilst it is fun and drifts off into the land of fantasy it also has a grip on the real life fears of teenage boys. It delves into the psyche surrounding sex and the future as we follow Joel on his week of freedom whilst his parents holiday. In one of the early scenes where a group of lads are playing poker and discussing sex it manages to be entertaining yet realistic as obvious lies are spoken as they boast about sexual conquests. The same grip of real life teenage fears continue through out the movie and in a nostalgic way it sort of delivers uneasy humour as you can reminisce about your own turmoil's going through the teenage years.
But away from the grip on the real teenage turmoil's "Risky Business" is also hugely entertaining with its blend of fun and fantasy. From that fire cracker of a scene where Tom Cruise struts his funky stuff to Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock and Roll" through to being chased by a pimp, crashing his dad's beloved Porsche and ending up being a pimp himself pretty much every scene delivers some form of comedy, sometimes over the top others more subtle. It's a clever blend of comedy because it makes all the realism surrounding the teenage fears far more entertaining with Joel's imagination surrounding having sex or discovering a woman in the shower being memorably funny.
Aside from the comedy and teenage fears "Risky Business" doesn't get that name without exploring the risky side of sex and hookers. It's actually all quite tame to be frank with only a couple of timid sex scenes with the semi fantasy scene which culminates with a naked Rebecca De Mornay being the only one which requires "Risky Business" to have an 18 certificate. But again it's all sort of amusing as Joel turns from this unconfident, fearful teen into a slick charmer as he lines up his rich friends with various young ladies.
Of course "Risky Business" is a Tom Cruise movie and one which came early on in his movie career before he hit mega stardom with "Top Gun". It's quite an impressive performance as he delivers that nervousness of a teenager who thanks to his over bearing parents is frankly a bit of a stiff, more worried about his future than living in the now. Yet later on when he basically becomes a pimp every ounce of the Cruise charm is on show as the Cheshire cat grin turns up as does the boundless confidence. It's well worked and not in any way the cheesy sort of performance that Cruise is occasionally blamed for.
Aside from Tom Cruise "Risky Business" also features a lovely Rebecca De Mornay as a call girl con artist and although the pairing of Cruise and De Mornay works, delivering a semi believable element of romance, it's hard to think of this delightful actress as a call girl even when she does get naked. Alongside De Mornay there are a few other recognizable faces such as Curtis Armstrong playing the pushy Miles, Bronson Pinchot as Joel's best friend Barry and Joe Pantoliano as tough talking pimp Guido.
What this all boils down to is that "Risky Business" is a surprisingly good movie, even now nearly 30 years later. It does manage to deliver a fun look at the fears of young men during the 80s and although aiming to be fun does delve into a few real fears whilst also delivering a semi fantasy element. In a way it's a shame that "Risky Business" is best known for Tom Cruise dancing in his shirt and underwear and for Rebecca De Mornay getting naked because it does have a lot more to offer.