Paul Brickman‘s Risky Business opened 30 years and 5 days ago. It captured and in some ways defined the early ’80s zeitgeist (Reagan-era morality, go for the greenbacks, the receding of progressive ’70s culture). And it brought about an ungodly torrent of tits-and-zits comedies, so numerous and pernicious that they became a genre that forever tarnished the meaning of “mainstream Hollywood comedy.” But Risky Business was a perfect brew. The Tom Cruise-Rebecca DeMornay sex scenes were legendary, the vibe of upper-middle-class entitlement was delivered with natural authority, Joe Pantoliano‘s Guido is arguably a more memorable character than his Ralph Cifaretto in The Sopranos, and the opening dream sequence is just as funny and on-target in its depiction of encroaching doom as Woody Allen‘s Bergmanesque train-car sequence at the beginning of Stardust Memories.
I had an invite to a special Risky Business screening at the Beverly Hills Academy a week before the opening, but I blew it off because a girlfriend was visiting that night and things were hot and heavy at the time. I wound up catching it 10 days later at a theatre in Westwood, and I remember saying to myself after it ended, “Wow, what I was thinking when I missed that screening?”
I remember sitting at the legendary industry eatery Joe Allen (Third Street across from Cedars Sinai) a month or two after RB opened, and noticing Cruise and DeMornay (who were reportedly “together” at the time) sitting at a darkly lighted table together, apart from the crowd.
You know what’s depressing? Almost all the RB costars, young sprouts during principal photography, look weathered and speckled and even a little bit saggy today. Actors are supposed to keep it together and stay ahead of the aging process a little better than Average Joes and Janes. Not these guys. The only one who looks really good today is Cruise.