It didn't necessarily occur to me when I saw 1983's Risky Business in junior high and high school, but the operative word of the title is business.
Watching it then, the movie was all about the harrowing story of Joel Goodsen (onetime Louisvillian Tom Cruise), fetching femme Lana (Rebecca De Mornay) and a lot of great lines (including the film's signature phrase which, 30 years later, we still cannot print in a family newspaper).
But at its core, this movie, the fourth entry in the LexGo Totally Awesome '80s Film Festival, is about business: a high school senior in the tony North Shore Chicago suburbs hoping to maintain the lifestyle to which he has become accustomed with a career in business, boosted by an Ivy League education. And when the original plans fall apart, Joel stumbles into a business solution to get himself out of trouble.
Risky Business will always be remembered as the movie that introduced us, and particularly teen girls, to Cruise. There were serious debates among some friends of mine as to whether he was hotter in this or All the Right Moves, which came out two months after Risky Business and solidified his status as a teen idol. We had seen him in some previous offerings — Taps (1981) and The Outsiders (1983) — but these were his leading-man debuts.
Cruise and De Mornay made an unlikely film — and, afterward, real-life — couple: In the movie, he was a child of privilege whose slick-talking best friend Miles (an attention-grabbing role for Curtis Armstrong) and hormones lead him to hire her, a pricey call girl, while his parents are out of town.
Events spiral way out of control from there, leading Joel and Lana to launch an extremely profitable enterprise to set things right before his mom and dad come home.
There are some similarities between Risky Business and last week's movie in the LexGo fest, Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986): Both are fanciful stories of high school seniors left on their own, bucking authority and trying to get away with it.
But in Risky Business, we see more of the struggle. You feel the weight of the scene two-thirds of the way through when everything has fallen apart for Joel and he appears to be thinking about jumping in front of a train.
It gets kind of real, and even as the movie ends, you're not sure how things will turn out for Joel. After all, business has had some profound ups and downs since 1983, and a lot of risks haven't paid off.
LexGo Totally Awesome '80s Film Festival
When: 7:15 p.m. Wednesdays through March 27
Where: Kentucky Theatre, 214 E. Main St. Free parking in Transit Center garage; enter on High St. across from the post office or Calvary Baptist Church.
Tickets: $6; available in advance at Kentuckytheater.com and at the box office.
Learn more: (859) 231-7924
March 20: Risky Business
March 27: The Breakfast Club
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