A Matter of Love and Hate…
Two movies, one much-loved that I hate, one much hated that I love. About my fair and foul thoughts on Notting Hill (1999) and Cocktail (1988).
Wendell from Dell on Movies threw us a curve in his Against the Crowd blogathon. Here asking which movies you love (but Rotten Tomatoes hate with a tomato meter score of 35% or less) and which I hate but the folks using this site, love with a tomato meter score of 75% upwards. So I present to you the delights of Cocktail and the awfulness of Notting Hill. And yes, I did explain that in the right order. To support my preferences, here’s a wee guide as to why…
Cocktail – Trailer, CineDeLos80
This admittedly was the hardest to select as.. well, if you’ve read my A – Z page you’ll discover I do review quite a lot of what most of you would call in a word, crap. But despite this film winning two Golden Raspberry Awards for Worst Picture and Worst Screenplay, its one of my favourite Tom Cruise movies.
Cocktail tells of a young late 1980s Tom Cruise character, Brian Flannagan who while studying for business school becomes a bartender. Learning the ins and outs of the business from Doug Coughlin, his colleague. After time, the barmen become a kind of double act with their entertainment act behind the bar including juggling bottles, throwing and catching bottles with each other and the like. The pair fall out over a girl (surprise, surprise), This leading Brian to Jamaica and love…
Admittedly it may sound incredibly dull but do read on.. This is one of the few films that I don’t remember Cruise on a motorcycle or running (but could be wrong here). Here just enjoying himself in a mindless romantic movie – that doesn’t stretch his acting ability – in a good, harmless way. And although not one of those action roles he’s more synonymous with he kind of breezes through this wee romantic 1980s leading role. It’s one that some of we romantics had been waiting for since we loved him as Maverick in Top Gun (1986). And its a shame that after this is was more testosterone fueled films he’s been landed with, as he was kinda likeable here (even when his character wasn’t).
I loved him paired up with the always fantastic Eiisabeth Shue. As the on-screen love interests, as Brian and Jordan, they definitely had more of a chemistry than she had with the wee waifish looking Ralph Macchio in The Karate Kid (1986). But there she looked liked she’d easily push Macchio over with one finger. A bit like the Kate Winslet and Leonardo Di Caprio pairing in Titanic (1997). Particularly in that car scene.
However, I loved Cocktail primarily for the always enigmatic, charismatic Bryan Brown as Doug Coughlin. Always remembered as that Aussie actor from The Thorn Birds (1983). In that mini series he sheared sheep (and sadly the sheep shearers I’ve encountered were never this hot) and put up with his wife Meggie (Rachel Ward)’s longings for the local priest, Ralph (Richard Chamberlain). And in Cocktail, Brown totally steals the show as Cruise’s mentor and buddy.
Also it was a lovely exotic setting for part of the story and the film had a nice wee 1980s happy ending. And a catchy, upbeat soundtrack song from the Beach Boys too, in the form of Kokomo. However, the film has been widely criticised, with Wikipedia even quoting Cruise saying that this film “was not a crowning jewel” in his career. Darlin’ Husband – who was bored by the film – claims that the more running Cruise does in a film equates with his film’s success. And that Cruise only ran a wee bit in Cocktail, which explains the low score in Rotten Tomatoes. Anyway watch the trailer and see Tom Cruise at his more romantic leading man’s finest.. unless you are like the 5% tomato meter score that made this a rotten tomato.
Notting Hill (1999)
Notting Hill – Trailer, YouTube Movies
I’ll admit when I first saw this film, I liked it. I wallowed in the romance and cried by the end of the credits. Now as a bit more cynical of this and other romantic comedies (especially those with Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway or both), I tried to watch it again and couldn’t do it despite being the most favourite film of Brits in its release year and it getting an 83% score in Rotten Tomatoes.
The film tells of a bumbling terribly English book seller who meets and falls for a Hollywood actress in a boy meets girl (yawn) story – read contrived romance – leading to predictable happy ending. With much alleged “hilarity”.
It started off OK, I do love the opening song She – from the wonderfully talented Elvis Costello (why Elvis??) – and the montage bit with Julia Roberts in the opening credits. And that other montage. when the on-screen pair inevitably break up in this rom-com is quite unique. And not just because in adding these bits in real-film-time would have added to the film’s duration. But it does help. And the title now feels a bit dull and unimaginative, and it sounds like part of a documentary series of places to see in London.
I also get irritated with
British terribly English bumbling leading character Will – a highly stereotyped Hugh Grant character – and his annoying, sorry very annoying British way of being. Things got even more annoyingly British English when he poses as a Horse & Hound (in a in-film shameless plug) reporter to gain the actress’s time and attention. As you do. Oh how I laughed (not) at the accompanying montage.
Julia Roberts who is normally ok in most films – apart from what I’ve seen of Mothers Day (2016) – became superirritating as the Richard Curtis token romantic American role as Anna. But not in the same league as the incomparable, Andie McDonnell. Ironically, another most annoying love interest in a previous Hugh Grant movie also by Curtis. See rants in Love & Mercy (2016) here and on Curtis here for another of his films, About Time (2013). Like this film it was good first time round but
possibly probably due to Bill Nighy and Rachel McAdams.
And even the underdog in the movie, Rhys Ifans playing Spike (Will’s Welsh flatmate) didn’t endear me as much as the time before. This because I think he was more than fantastic in Mr Nice (2010). And don’t get me started on Will’s motley crew of family and acquaintances… starring British lovies Emma Chambers, Tim McInnerny, Gina McKee, and Hugh Bonneville. Their characters so forgettable I can’t even remember most of their names.
I’d even blanked out the great Alec Baldwin making an appearance – as Anna’s boyfriend – in this movie. Why Alec??? But.. I’d blanked him out (and will again). Presumably, so I could enjoy watching him steal the show in Rock of Ages (2012). Again. In one of his best roles ever, where he had obviously much more chemistry with Russell Brand.
And the Notting Hill soundtrack, including one by the man from Boyzone, Ronan Keating. Which admittedly, a song I loved the first time I heard it. He also now irks me after he ruined a favourite song, If Tomorrow Never Comes. This was ruined with a rather tasteless accompanying video of the singer being run over. With CGI no blood, but more stupid looking. He gets run over a lot, especially in the chorus. As an individual or in whatever the collective noun is for a multitude of Ronan Keatings…
Notting Hill also boasts the now twee setting of the now richest parts of London (not pronounced Laandan) where this book seller lives and works. Despite not selling many books, his shop usually devoid of customers. So on the rewatch, I switched off as things took an incredibly unbearable turn with token American actress and the bumbling one at a birthday party for his eccentric sister. Who is called Honey (of course), as a bid to explain why she’s a bit kooky as opposed to a more “normal” name. There his contrived yuppie friends act in a typecast way with him on a date with the actress. Who predictably blends in and is a hit with said cronies. And with at least two of the friends reminding you of the previously mentioned, Four Weddings and A Funeral (1994).
By the end of the film it really felt like that infamous quote from the movie. Where now paraphrased, it feels like Julia Roberts was really saying “I’m just a girl standing in front of a screen asking you to love my film”‘.
So to end this wee post, after remembering and reviewing the highs and lows of both these films, I’ve noted both end practically on the same premise. And therefore… after a pregnant pause.. I’d love to hear your thoughts as I throw Notting Hill and Cocktail into the mix of this blogathon.
This post was added Dell on Movies’ Against the Crowd Blogathon. Other posts with these casts include Tom Cruise also stars in posts on Rock of Ages, Spectacular Singing Stars and Edge of Tomorrow. Elisabeth Shue stars in Soapdish and Adventures in Babysitting / A Night on the Town. Hugh Grant also appears in my review of that fab Notting Hill montage here. Julia Roberts stars in Mothers Day, Pretty Woman, Closer and Runaway Bride.