10 Stirring Facts About Cocktail

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One of cinema's greatest guilty pleasures, Cocktail starred Tom Cruise as Brian Flanagan, a young man who unexpectedly achieves some fame as a "flair bartender" in New York City along with his mentor, Doug Coughlin (Bryan Brown). Brian eventually takes his bottle-flipping skills down to Jamaica, where he falls for Jordan (Elisabeth Shue), a vacationing artist. Here are some facts about the Tom Cruise staple, in accordance with Coughlin's Law.

1. BRIAN FLANAGAN WAS ALMOST TWICE AS OLD IN THE BOOK.

Yes, Cocktail was originally a novel; it was written by Heywood Gould, and based on the dozen years he spent bartending to supplement his income as a writer. Whereas Tom Cruise's Brian Flanagan is in his twenties, Gould's protagonist was described as a "38-year-old weirdo in a field jacket with greasy, graying hair hanging over his collar, his blue eyes streaked like the red sky at morning." As Gould told the Chicago Tribune, "I was in my late 30s, and I was drinking pretty good, and I was starting to feel like I was missing the boat. The character in the book is an older guy who has been around and starting to feel that he's pretty washed-up." Disney and Gould—who adapted his book for the screen—fought over making Brian Flanagan younger, with Gould eventually relenting.

2. THERE WERE AT LEAST 40 DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF THE SCRIPT.

The script went through a couple of different studios, and dozens of iterations. According to Gould, "there must have been 40 drafts of the screenplay before we went into production. It was originally with Universal. They put it in turnaround because I wasn't making the character likable enough. And then Disney picked it up, and I went through the same process with them. I would fight them at every turn, and there was a huge battle over making the lead younger, which I eventually did."

Bryan Brown explained that when Cruise came on board, the movie "had to change. The studio made the changes to protect the star and it became a much slighter movie because of it."

Kelly Lynch, who played Kerry Coughlin, was much more forthright about how Gould's vision for the story changed under Disney, telling The A.V. Club:

"[Cocktail] was actually a really complicated story about the ’80s and power and money, and it was really re-edited where they completely lost my character’s backstory—her low self-esteem, who her father was, why she was this person that she was—but it was obviously a really successful movie, if not as good as it could’ve been. It was written by the guy who wrote Fort Apache The Bronx, and it was a much darker movie, but Disney took it, reshot about a third of it, and turned it into flipping the bottles and this and that."

3. FOR A BRIEF SECOND, DISNEY WASN'T COMPLETELY SOLD ON TOM CRUISE IN THE LEAD.

Recounting the kind of story that only happens in Hollywood, Gould told the Chicago Tribune about one of his early meetings with Disney heads Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg. "Someone mentioned that this might be a good vehicle for Tom Cruise," Gould recalled. "Eisner says, 'He'll never do this, don't waste your time, he can't play this part.' And then Katzenberg says, 'Well, he's really interested in doing it,' and without skipping a beat Eisner says, 'He's perfect for it, a perfect fit!' That's the movie business: I hate him, I love him; I love him, I hate him!"

4. BRYAN BROWN'S AUDITION WAS "DREADFUL."

Director Roger Donaldson specifically wanted Bryan Brown to audition for the role of Doug. Brown flew from Sydney to New York and, almost immediately after his 20-plus-hour flight, was sitting in front of Donaldson. "He did the audition and he was dead tired and it was dreadful," Donaldson said. "After he did it I was like, ‘Bryan, do yourself a favor—we’ve got to do it again tomorrow.’ And he said, ‘No, no, I’m catching a plane back tonight.’ I couldn’t persuade him to stay and do it again, so I didn’t show anybody the audition." Instead, Donaldson told the producers and studio to watch Brown's performance in F/X (1986); clearly, they liked what they saw.

5. CRUISE AND BROWN PRACTICED THEIR FLAIR BARTENDING, AND USED REAL BOTTLES ON SET.

Los Angeles TGI Friday's bartender John Bandy was hired to train Cruise and Brown after he served a woman who worked for Disney who was on the lookout for a bartender for Cocktail. Bandy trained the two stars in the bottle-flipping routines, and Gould took Cruise and Brown to his friend's bar to show them the tricks they used to do. Donaldson claimed they used real bottles—and yes, they did break a few.

6. JAMAICA WASN'T KIND TO TOM CRUISE

The Jamaica exteriors were shot on location, where it was cold, and Cruise got sick. When he and Shue had to shoot a love scene at a jungle waterfall, it wasn't pleasant. "It’s not quite as romantic as it looks,” Cruise told Rolling Stone. “It was more like ‘Jesus, let’s get this shot and get out of here.’ Actually, in certain shots you’ll see that my lips are purple and, literally, my whole body’s shaking.”

7. THE FILM SCORE WAS ENTIRELY REWRITTEN IN A WEEKEND.

Three-time Oscar winner Maurice Jarre (Lawrence of Arabia) was Cocktail's original composer, but the producers didn't think his score "fit in" with the story. They particularly didn't like one cue, so they called in J. Peter Robinson to fix it. Donaldson liked what Robinson did so much, that he asked the composer to take over and do the rest of the work. "All this was happening on a Friday," Robinson said. "I was starting another film on the following Monday and told Roger that I was going to be unavailable. 'We're print-mastering on Monday, mate!!' Roger said. So from that point on I stayed up writing the score and delivered it on Monday morning at around five in the morning."

8. "KOKOMO" WAS WRITTEN FOR THE MOVIE.

While it was The Beach Boys, by then minus Brian Wilson, that recorded the song which brought the group back into the spotlight, "Kokomo" was penned by John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas; Scott McKenzie, who wrote “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)”; producer Terry Melcher, Doris Day's son; and Mike Love. Phillips wrote the verses, Love wrote the chorus, and Melcher penned the bridge. The specific instructions were to write a song for the part when Brian goes from a bartender in New York to Jamaica. Off of that, Love came up with the "Aruba, Jamaica ..." part.

9. ROGER DONALDSON IS SORRY ABOUT "DON'T WORRY BE HAPPY."

Bobby McFerrin's "Don't Worry, Be Happy" hit number one thanks to its inclusion on the Cocktail soundtrack. The director heard the song on the radio one day while driving to the set. “I heard it and thought it would be perfect for the film," he said. "And suddenly it was everywhere. Sorry about that."

10. THE REVIEWS—INCLUDING TOM CRUISE'S—WERE HARSH.

To conclude his two-star review, Roger Ebert wrote, "The more you think about what really happens in Cocktail, the more you realize how empty and fabricated it really is." Richard Corliss of TIME said it was "a bottle of rotgut in a Dom Perignon box."

In 1992, even Tom Cruise admitted that the movie "was not a crowning jewel" in his career. And Heywood Gould wasn't pleased with it at first either. "I was accused of betraying my own work, which is stupid," Gould said. "So I was pretty devastated. I literally couldn't get out of bed for a day. The good thing about that experience is that it toughened me up. It was like basic training. This movie got killed, and then after that I was OK with getting killed—I got killed a few more times since then, but it hasn't bothered me."

14 Retro Gifts for Millennials

Ravi Palwe, Unsplash
Ravi Palwe, Unsplash

Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996, which means the pop culture they grew up with is officially retro. No matter what generation you belong to, consider these gifts when shopping for the Millennials in your life this holiday season.

1. Reptar Funko Pop!; $29

Amazon

This vinyl Reptar figurine from Funko is as cool as anything you’d find in the rugrats’ toy box. The monster dinosaur has been redesigned in classic Pop! style, making it a perfect desk or shelf accessory for the grown-up Nickelodeon fan. It also glows in the dark, which should appeal to anyone’s inner child.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Dragon Ball Z Slippers; $20

Hot Topic

You don’t need to change out of your pajamas to feel like a Super Saiyan. These slippers are emblazoned with the same kanji Goku wears on his gi in Dragon Ball Z: one for training under King Kai and one for training with Master Roshi. And with a soft sherpa lining, the footwear feels as good as it looks.

Buy it: Hot Topic

3. The Pokémon Cookbook; $15

Hop Topic

What do you eat after a long day of training and catching Pokémon? Any dish in The Pokémon Cookbook is a great option. This book features more than 35 recipes inspired by creatures from the Pokémon franchise, including Poké Ball sushi rolls and mashed Meowth potatoes.

Buy it: Hot Topic

4. Lisa Frank Activity Book; $5

Urban Outfitters

Millennials will never be too old for Lisa Frank, especially when the artist’s playful designs come in a relaxing activity book. Watercolor brings the rainbow characters in this collection to life. Just gather some painting supplies and put on a podcast for a relaxing, nostalgia-fueled afternoon.

Buy it: Urban Outfitters

5. Shoebox Tape Recorder with USB; $28

Amazon

The days of recording mix tapes don’t have to be over. This device looks and functions just like tape recorders from the pre-smartphone era. And with a USB port as well as a line-in jack and built-in mic, users can easily import their digital music collection onto retro cassette tapes.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Days of the Week Scrunchie Set; $12

Urban Outfitters

Millennials can be upset that a trend from their youth is old enough to be cool again, or they can embrace it. This scrunchie set is for anyone happy to see the return of the hair accessory. The soft knit ponytail holders come in a set of five—one for each day of the school (or work) week.

Buy it: Urban Outfitters

7. D&D Graphic T-shirt; $38-$48

80s Tees

The perfect gift for the Dungeon Master in your life, this graphic tee is modeled after the cover of the classic Dungeons & Dragons rule book. It’s available in sizes small through 3XL.

Buy it: 80s Tees

8. Chuck E. Cheese T-shirt; $36-$58

80s Tees

Few Millennials survived childhood without experiencing at least one birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. This retro T-shirt sports the brand’s original name: Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theatre. It may be the next-best gift for a Chuck E. Cheese fan behind a decommissioned animatronic.

Buy it: 80s Tees

9. The Nightmare Before Christmas Picnic Blanket Bag; $40

Shop Disney

Fans of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas will recognize the iconic scene on the front of this messenger bag. Unfold it and the bag becomes a blanket fit for a moonlit picnic among the pumpkins. The bottom side is waterproof and the top layer is made of soft fleece.

Buy it: Shop Disney

10. Toy Story Alien Socks; $15

Shop Disney

You don’t need to be skilled at the claw machine to take home a pair of these socks. Decorated with the aliens from Toy Story, they’re made from soft-knit fabric and are big enough to fit adult feet.

Buy it: Shop Disney

11. Goosebumps Board Game; $24

Amazon

Fans that read every book in R.L. Stine’s series growing up can now play the Goosebumps board game. In this game, based on the Goosebumps movie, players take on the role of their favorite monster from the series and race to the typewriter at the end of the trail of manuscripts.

Buy it: Amazon

12. Tamagotchi Mini; $19

Amazon

If you know someone who killed their Tamagotchi in the '90s, give them another chance to show off their digital pet-care skills. This Tamagotchi is a smaller, simplified version of the original game. It doubles as a keychain, so owners have no excuse to forget to feed their pet.

Buy it: Amazon

13. SNES Classic; $275

Amazon

The SNES Classic is much easier to find now than when it first came out, and it's still just as entertaining for retro video game fans. This mini console comes preloaded with 21 Nintendo games, including Super Mario Kart and Street Fighter II.

Buy it: Amazon

14. Planters Cheez Balls; $24

Amazon

Planters revived its Cheez Balls in 2018 after pulling them from shelves nearly a decade earlier. To Millennials unaware of that fact, this gift could be their dream come true. The throwback snack even comes in the classic canister fans remember.

Buy it: Amazon

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10 Great Gifts for Teens

Fjallraven/Polaroid
Fjallraven/Polaroid

If it’s been a few years since you were a teenager, you might be feeling at a loss when it comes to finding the perfect gift for the teen in your life. But you don’t have to worry—we’ve culled the internet to figure out what’s cool these days, and we found 10 items to suit any teen (and any price point).

1. Fjällräven Kånken Mini Classic Backpack for Everyday; $70

Fjällräven/Amazon

Fjällräven’s Kånken backpack was originally introduced in 1978 as an affordable and comfortable bag for Swedish schoolchildren, but it recently took off as a trend among American high schoolers and college students. With 43 different color options, chances are you’ll be able to find the perfect trendy backpack for the teen in your life.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Hydro Flask Standard-Mouth Water Bottle; $30–$35

Hydro Flask/Amazon

Hydro Flasks aren’t only trendy, they’re sturdy and environmentally friendly. Plus, they keep hot drinks warm and icy drinks cool for an absurdly long amount of time. The standard-mouth water bottle is currently available on Amazon in 17 different colors, but the brand also offers tumbler cups and coffee mugs depending on your niece/nephew/cousin/friend/child’s preference.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Polaroid Originals OneStep+ Bluetooth-Connected Instant Film Camera; $140

Polaroid Originals/Amazon

Teens can kick it back old school with this Polaroid camera that hides some surprisingly contemporary features. Using a special app, users can fine-tune their camera settings to suit their personal tastes. Plus, this camera makes it possible to capture two scenes in a single frame, so it's that much easier to create uniquely artsy Polaroid pics.

Buy it: Amazon

4. 4th-Generation Echo Dot with Clock; $60

Amazon

Tech-wise, the fourth-generation Echo Dot is almost identical to its third-generation predecessor. But the updated spherical design seems poised to make the Echo Dot a worthy contender for traditional alarm clocks—the speaker face shows the time and it even includes a tap-to-snooze function for drowsy sleepers.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Bubble Tea Kit; $38

Uncommon Goods

Part of the reason bubble tea is so popular is that it’s customizable—and what could be more customizable than making it yourself? This kit, made by an Atlanta-based couple, comes with two reusable straws and enough supplies to make up to eight servings.

Buy it: Uncommon Goods

6. Mixtape Card Game; $20

Uncommon Goods

This party game challenges players to find the perfect songs to suit specific prompts. Some cards might prompt players to use Spotify or Youtube to search for the songs with the best guitar solos, while other cards call for participants to play their “favorite slow dance love jam from junior high.” This game is sure to be a hit at any high school sleepover or house party—or, in true 2020 style, at any digital hangout or Zoom meeting.

Buy it: Uncommon Goods

7. Giant Flour Tortilla Throw Blanket; $18-$35

Mermaker/Amazon

This goofy double-sided blanket turns any human into a giant-size burrito, and it comes in four different sizes to suit any height. One reviewer even went so far as to say that “once you wrap yourself in it, you will be convinced that you are a burrito.”

Buy it: Amazon

8. The Cup of Destiny; $22

Shelter Harbor Press/Amazon

Here’s a prediction: Your hunt for the perfect gift is almost over. This kit is ideal for the teenager who is fascinated by the supernatural and loves exploring new ideas. Included, you’ll find a 96-page illustrated instruction book along with a cup and a saucer marked with patterns and symbols.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Wreck This Journal: Now in Color; $9

Penguin Books/Amazon

This journal is not intended to be pretty. It’s made for messiness and exploration and a little bit of chaos. Artistic-minded teens will love filling out pages that prompt them to catalog various stains or poke holes through the paper. Reviewers say it’s not only a source of creative inspiration, though—it’s also a stress reliever. And considering that the middle-school and high-school years aren’t exactly known for being relaxing, this journal could be a welcome reprieve from the daily pressure of managing homework and a social life.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Therapy Dough; $15

Uncommon Goods

Some teens focus better and relax more easily when they have something to fidget with. If the teen in your life fits that description, this therapy dough may be the perfect gift for them. Each 4.5-ounce container is infused with essential oils like lavender, eucalyptus, orange, or pine, making relaxation smell delicious (and all natural!).

Buy it: Uncommon Goods

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