by Casey Dewey
Risky Business, the 1983 film that skyrocketed Tom Cruise to stardom and made everybody rush out to purchase Ray-Ban Wayfarers, is playing at Cinemark El Con tomorrow afternoon and evening. It’s part of Cinemark’s Classic Series, a weekly series of digitally cleaned up versions of your favorite older films.
This was the first film I remember my mom renting at the local video store. When I was supposed to be asleep, I sneaked out to living room where she was watching the flick with friends, and I lingered around as long as I could without being caught. Because…Rebecca De Mornay.
Cruise plays Joel Goodson, an upper-middle class high school student who lives in the wealthy North Shore area of Chicago. When his stuffy parents go out of town for a week on vacation, they leave Joel to watch over the house, leaving strict instructions on what his responsibilities are and how he should behave. With the house to himself, his friends convince him to relax and ring up a call girl. Trouble enters the film with the arrival of Lana (De Mornay), a beautiful, young prostitute with mysterious intentions. Soon Joel is in a car chase with Lana’s pimp Guido (the always awesome Joe Pantoliano) in his daddy’s Porsche, he transforms his suburban house into a brothel for a night, and he makes love with Lana after midnight on the L Train to the spooky, sultry strains of Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight.”
Joel and his friends are member of the Future Enterprisers, an extracurricular club that meets after class to design and run small businesses. His friends are only interested in one thing — making money. Remember, this was 1983 and Reaganomics were in full swing. Building capital was cool, and Joel is ambitious and calculating in the way Dustin Hoffman’s Benjamin Braddock was aloof and unsure in The Graduate.
And what better way to rake in the dough by turning into a pimp for the night? Joel and Lana cook up a plan to bridge the horny, wealthy teenage boys of North Shore with the lusty working girls of downtown Chicago. Using his savvy business skills, beds are rented, tickets are sold and profit is made. Yay capitalism!
The early 80's were a ripe time for ribald teenage tales. The low IQ classic Porky's came out in 1982, and while it took a critical beating, it was a smash with high schoolers across the country. Risky Business, however, was a huge hit with audience and critics alike. Rightfully so. It's a smart, stylish film that nails the era down.