Sure, the plot and social subtext of "Risky Business" might be dated, but as a piece of historical capitalistic Americana, you canít get much better than this.
Risky Business (1983, Blu-ray)
Directors: Paul Brickman
Producers: Jon Avnet and Steve Tisch
Writers: Paul Brickman
Features: * PiP Video Commentary * Documentary * Screen Tests * Alternate Ending * Trailer
Tom Cruise ... Joel Goodsen
Rebecca De Mornay ... Lana
Joe Pantoliano ... Guido
Richard Masur ... Rutherford
Bronson Pinchot ... Barry
Curtis Armstrong ... Miles
Nicholas Pryor ... Joel's Father
Janet Carroll ... Joel's Mother
Risky Business Blu-ray Review
When "The Girl Next Door" was released a few years back, the film was unfairly criticized for being a carbon copy of "Risky Business." Upon further examination, the two films do share many distinct thematic similarities, but "Risky Business" is far less morally grounded, and perhaps a little more unruly with its characters than the equally entertaining, but slightly more thoughtful "The Girl Next Door." I only mention this annoying past criticism because one film mimicked a particular mentality of itís era, while the other seemingly evolved into a more fundamentally honest whole and itís bothered me ever since fellow critics uttered the thesis.
For those living under a rock, "Risky Business" was one of Tom Cruiseís first major works. This was Tom Cruise before he was Tom Cruise. "Risky Business" follows an up-and-coming yuppie aptly named Joel Goodsen who finds himself knee deep in trouble after his Dad's Porsche is destroyed and his lovers ex-pimp comes after him. In order to fix the situation, he launches a "one night only" brothel in his own home, while his parents are out of town. Mixing comedy with taut tension, an almost mystical sense of drama and a moody, hypnotic score from Tangerine Dream, the film proves to be a fine night of entertainment.
In many ways, this film helped shape the megastar into the man he is today (for better or for worse). At its core, "Risky Business" is a film about taking control of your life and becoming a true agent of your own self-worth. Itís a timeless message that still holds true today, even if itís tightly packaged into a brooding teen sex comedy.
But for itís worth, "Risky Business" is painfully bloated with an immoral early-80s sense of yuppie prowess thatís since grown dated. Itís a film thatís morally unwound--telling a tale thatís sure to have resonated with high-powered, coked-up sleaze bag bankers on Wall Street. As Joel even states in the film, he deals in "human fulfillment." Heís a capitalist at heart. This is as much a film about taking control of your life as it is about making comprises with your core ideologies.
What better place to explore such immorality than a teen sex comedy. This is a subgenre rife with gratuitous activities and excess--a proverbial playground for immoral character building. Director Paul Brickman does a fine job crafting the story around this meaty center giving the film a heavy sense of gravity that most teen comedies donít normally have. Tom Cruise and his supporting cast add even more weight to the mix with their richly developed, tangible and complex characters.
Perhaps thatís why, more than twenty years later, we still love "Risky Business." Itís not necessarily Tom Cruise dancing around in his underwear, or Rebecca De Mourneyís sultry turn as a prostitute, but both certainly do help. Rather, itís the angst and personal flavor--the epic sense of importance injected into this otherwise mundane teen sex comedy. Sure, the plot and social subtext might be dated, but as a piece of historical capitalistic Americana, you canít get much better than this.
Film Report Card:
Entertainment Value: A
Film Value: B+
Warner presents "Risky Business" on Blu-ray with a dusty 1.85:1 widescreen transfer at 1080p/VC-1 video on a BD50 disc. For the filmís 25th anniversary, Warner has decided to go back and remaster the print from scratch, re-releasing two versions--one on DVD and one on Blu-ray. The result is certainly good, but this title still looks pretty darn murky.
Plagued by a strong glaze of grain and a few notable specks of dust, "Risky Business" is not one of Warnerís better Blu-ray catalog titles, but somehow I imagine this print looks about as good as it ever has, even during its original theatrical run. The film was a bit of a low-budget production and I canít imagine it ever truly looked good. Depth and clarity are not up to new release standards, but colors and black levels seem fairly even throughout and there are a few sparks of sharpness and detail. This was a film designed to be a bit grimy and the presentation simply follows suit.
While the disc boasts a high-res Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix, donít expect to be wowed by anything this mix has to offer. Dialogue is wonky and monotone. The filmís score only resonates through the front surrounds, but rarely the rears and other effects are mostly crammed into the busy, and hollow, center channel. Basically, this is a glorified mono track thatís been redesigned to be a modest 5.1 mix.
Only the infamous ĎTom Cruise dance sequenceí sounds honestly good. The whole time, I couldnít help but think of Joelís father who complained to Joel about messing with audio system. "Do you notice a preponderance of bass?" If only someone would have tweaked this track in the way Joel tweaks his fatherís stereo.
Warner has chalked up a decent assortment of bonus materials for fans to enjoy.
ē Documentary -- Basically this is a 30-minute retrospective piece discussing the filmís production and ultimate impact of the film on both pop-culture and the stars and crew themselves. It was really nice to see most of the cast, even Tom Cruise, offering their two cents.
ē Screen Tests -- 15 minutes of screen tests featuring De Mourney and Cruise. I found it a true delight to watch these performers long before their prime.
ē Directorís Preferred Ending -- This is a much-discussed alternate ending, introduced by the director. This version takes the film in a slightly different direction which some may or may not like. Honestly, I like both endings equally and honestly wish both versions could have been incorporated into this release using branching technology. Itís not like it would have been hard, or space consuming.
ē PiP Video Commentary (profile 1.1 players and above) -- The DVD features an audio version of this commentary so itís hardly a bonus to "see" writer/director Paul Brickman, Jon Avent and Tom Cruise discuss the film. Avnet and Brickmanís insights are certainly interesting, but I found Cruise to be a bit unprepared as though he though the idea of doing this commentary would be "fun" without realizing the work that goes into a commentary track. I wish this feature was also presented in audio form as well, for folks without Bonusview profile 1.1 Blu-ray players.
ē Digital Copy -- In an odd move, Warner has included a digital copy of "Risky Business" for portable media devices. While Iíve read reports that this file does not work with Macs, iTunes or iPhones, I had no problem copying the file over to my iPhone using iTunes.
Warner packs the set in a usual ĎEliteí Blu-ray case. Design is classy and in keeping with Warnerís other titles.
As Iím writing this review, our country is suffering major financial turmoil and government officials and politicians are turning their backs on their own conservative ideologies and saying, as Joelís friend Miles instructed, "What the f**k," as they make shady moral compromises in order to save the country from a second great depression. Who knew the excess of yuppie capitalists like Joel Goodsen would eventually spell itsí downfall? I did. "Risky Business" stands as both a great teen sex comedy and a fine piece of capitalistic history. The Blu-ray isnít stellar, but this was never a film meant to display the power of your system. As it stands, this is the best version on the market.
Blu-ray Report Card:
HD Content: C+
Recommendation: Worth owning.
On Blu-ray disc: September 16, 2008.
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----R. L. Shaffer