Cockman: or (The Unexpected Virtue of Autism)
Tom Cruise began his film career in 1981 and soon he became the heartthrob everyone knows him to be. Whether he’s shooting pool or shooting his M16, it’s tough not to be wooed by his pearly overbite. By the time the smash Top Gun flew in, Tom was man of the 80s. In 1988 he decided to take up a challenging and original project, and one of his most well-known films.
Co-directed by Bryan Levinson (right off his Robin Williams classic Good Morning, Vietnam) and Roger Donaldson (right off his Kevin Costner classic No Way Out), Cockman stars Tom Cruise as a bartender with dreams of success who finds out he has a long lost autistic brother played by Dustin Hoffman. This epic masterpiece has such a brilliant storyline, you may think you’ve seen a lot of the scenes throughout the film before, but in truth, it’s a true original.
After having served his country in the US Army, Brian Flanagan takes a bus to New York in hopes to make millions of dollars. Why he didn’t take a plane trip instead, I don’t know, perhaps he was afraid the plane would crash. Reading “How to Turn Your Ideas Into a Million Dollars”, he’s about to find the secret to his success. But news comes that his father has just passed away and his eyes light up, now the money will come pouring in from inheritance.
Like the previous films, once again there is a funeral that opens the film. Unfortunately, after attending the funeral, he finds that his father has left him nothing except for a used car and a rosebush. However, when he gets in his inherited car, he finds an older gentleman sitting in it already, talking to himself. His Uncle Pat reveals to Brian that the curious fellow is his brother, Raymond Flanagan (Dustin Hoffman). Shocked and curious, Brian decides to take Raymond back with him in order to get to know him.
Soon after their reconciliation, Brian soon discovers how much of a nuisance Raymond is. In the film’s first montage, Brian goes to several stockbroker job interviews, but unfortunately he had to bring Raymond along with him. Though some of the jobs were going pretty well at first, Raymond kept getting edgy because he was about to miss The People’s Court with Judge Wapner.
After numerous rejections with the big shots on Wall Street, Brian gives in, walks into a bar, and asks for a bartending job, with Raymond right beside him. The head bartender, Doug Coughlin, who just got off Qantas Airlines from Melbourne, Australia, agrees to have Brian be his wingman. And coincidentally, the Production Designer of the film is Mel Bourne.
The film’s next montage covers Brian’s first night on the job and things do not go too well. People are constantly shouting at him, he’s spilling drinks all over the place, and he doesn’t have a clue what the ingredients for the drinks are. Luckily, Raymond is by his side and has memorized the drinks, helping Brian. Unfortunately, in order to help out Brian, Raymond has to order one shot for bad if Brian’s orders are incorrect and two shots for good if they’re correct. Raymond started out with tequila but quickly switched to a different drink of choice after he screamed like crazy because it was too hot. Needless to say, Raymond got shitfaced that night. After that first night, Brian, Doug, and Raymond walked home drunkenly, singing “Addicted to Love”, “Chantilly Lace”, and “Dry Bones”.
The next morning, each with a hangover, Doug reveals to Brian and Raymond one of the main Coughlin Laws, that beer is for breakfast. Of course, Raymond has to immediately contradict him by telling him that it’s Tuesday and on Tuesday they have pancakes with maple syrup. As they eat pancakes and drink beer for breakfast, Brian tells Doug his risky business proposition. He says they need to travel to Jamaica and bartend where they can make hundreds a night in order to open up their own bar, “Cocktails and Dreams”. Raymond chimes in, saying by making hundreds a night they can buy a few candy bars or even a few new compact cars. Though Doug tells him it’s a nice dream, it’s just a dream and he shouldn’t be thinking anymore about it.
Another successful night of bartending and drink dancing with Doug (Raymond didn’t participate because he doesn’t know how to dance), Brian picked up a girl and took her home with him. After the two have wild sex together while Raymond watched, he finds out that she has some connections in the market. However, as their relationship grew, Doug jumped in and stole the girl, just to prove a point to Brian that nothing was going to come from that relationship just like nothing was going to come from starting their own business. Brian got pissed, beat up Doug, and stormed off.
Shortly after, Brian and Raymond traveled by boat to Jamaica, because the cruise lines to Bermuda, Bahamas, Key Largo, and Montego had sunk at least one time in the past. Three years have passed and Brian has settled down as a bartender in the tropical paradise. He meets a young woman Jordan (played by Elisabeth Shue), and after using Raymond’s pick up line “Are you taking any prescription medication?”, they instantly hit it off. If only he had met her sooner, maybe she could have given him some babysitting tips on how to handle Raymond. After another montage over the song “97.6 Bam The Future of Rock N Roll” and following Brian and Jordan as they fall in love together while Raymond watches, it seems like everything is working out. The three have drinks together and Brian, with one of his rich dream rants, says that the creator of the tiny umbrellas is a millionaire because he created a billion of the tiny umbrellas. But Raymond has to correct him by telling him that there are actually 999, 999, 996 tiny umbrellas.
Of course, Doug shows up to surprise Brian and starts to become a bit more annoying than Raymond. Doug reveals that he has recently married a very rich lady and they’re on their honeymoon together. The group hang out together, and Raymond admires Doug’s wife’s thong, asking her if she bought it at the Kmart in Cincinnati. Though things seem to be going fine again, Doug has to screw things up again, this time daring Brian that he can’t pick up the older lady at the bar with the Fuck Me Eyes. He of course succeeds, and of course Jordan sees him walk off with the older lady. Everyone goes their separate ways, and of course, everyone winds up back in New York within walking distance of each other.
Back in New York, Brian, Raymond and the older lady are living together. Taking tips from Bill Cosby in Leonard Part 6 and his Jane Fonda videos, the older lady dances to workout videos. At least Raymond picked up some dance moves from her, no thanks to his brother Brian. However, the older lady keeps talking down to Brian like he’s not as good as her. Now he knows how Raymond felt. Knowing the relationship isn’t working out, Brian breaks up with the older lady and she beats up the Army veteran.
Tuesday rolled around, so Raymond and Brian decided to go to a café to have pancakes. And lo and behold, Jordan is a waitress there. Though Brian tries apologizing to her, she follows the example of Cosby’s ex-wife in Leonard Part 6 and dumps a bunch of food over his head, to which Raymond replied “Uh-oh”.
With only twenty minutes left in the film, they only managed to throw in a dozen more clichés, so at least they got a little creative. Brian managed to find out where Jordan lived after asking Raymond, who had read the phone book. The two swing by her place to once again win her back. Instead, she once again yells at Brian, reveals to him that she’s pregnant, and refuses to see him again. However, Brian manages to find out that she went to stay with her father, who turns out to be a millionaire living in a suite in a downtown New York hotel. Brian and Raymond take the elevator up to the suite, and luckily the elevator doesn’t break, otherwise Brian may have had to teach Raymond how to kiss.
Hoping to find Jordan, instead, her very upset father greets them. He won’t have his daughter dating a bartender with useless dreams of success. He kicks the two out of the penthouse, but not before being forced to let Raymond Jeopardy.
Once again, always showing up at the perfect time, Doug shows up to lighten the mood. Though he owns a huge nightclub in New York and it looks like he’s successful, in truth he’s used up all his wife’s money and is nearly broke. Though this may lead to the cliché of the two getting back together and starting their own bar like they originally planned, instead it goes the route of the other cliché, and Doug kills himself, to which Raymond replied, “Uh-oh”.
What better way to grieve over the death of his best friend than to try to win back his love using pity. So Brian and Raymond travel back to the penthouse, charging past the dick hotel clerk, charging past the dick butler, and charging past the dick father, to talk to Jordan. He wins her back and the three leave the hotel, of course only after letting Raymond watch Wheel of Fortune.
As the film closes, Brian and Jordan had just gotten married and are celebrating in Brian and Raymond’s bar, Cocktails and Dreams. The bar is packed and Brian seems to be the only bartender working, but none of the patrons seem to mind that he stopped serving drinks in order to spout a boring poem. And with only 10 seconds left in the film they manage to throw in one more cliché by announcing that Jordan will be having twins. I guess that means two for bad.
Cockman is quite the remarkable film. The character of Raymond is so complex and original, his autistic abilities are amazing. If you were to ask him how many clichés were in the film he would instantly say 246 without thinking twice. Even the supporting character Doug is so complex that he could have a movie all on his own, a wise bartender who has financial troubles, marries a rich woman, has a falling out with his best friend, reconciles, has a brief moment of success, before hitting troubled times, and finally committing suicide. And then there’s Tom Cruise. What a performance. In Brian, he creates a character you go in the film thinking you don’t give a damn about and leave the film thinking you don’t give a damn about him, but for that brief moment during the film he makes you second guess yourself. That’s definitely acting right there.
[author image=”https://fbcdn-profile-a.akamaihd.net/hprofile-ak-xfp1/v/t1.0-1/c0.50.200.200/1621680_10104645198686414_160815090_n.jpg?oh=036db60b27eab5d9a0b563c192df3035&oe=55671725&__gda__=1433249309_f7b7cd483af8a083e3454fce2eb0163a” ]Jeff spends too much time watching movies, but when he’s not watching them, he helps make them by working in the grip and electric department. Some would say he chose this profession because of the thrill of being on set and helping create art, but the real reason is most G&E don’t need to wear pants. Along with being a film nerd, Jeff enjoys riding his bike everywhere around the Southern California and watching his friends perform improv.[/author]