Risky Business

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Risky Business
Risky Business.jpg
Theatrical release poster by Drew Struzan
Directed byPaul Brickman
Produced byJon Avnet
Steve Tisch
Written byPaul Brickman
Music byTangerine Dream
CinematographyBruce Surtees
Reynaldo Villalobos
Edited byRichard Chew
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • August 5, 1983 (1983-08-05) (United States)
Running time
99 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$6.2 million
Box office$63.5 million[1]

Risky Business is a 1983 American teen sex comedy film written and directed by Paul Brickman (in his directorial debut) and starring Tom Cruise and Rebecca De Mornay.[2] The film covers themes including materialism, loss of innocence, coming of age, and capitalism. Best known as Cruise's breakout film, Risky Business was a critical and commercial success, grossing more than $63 million against a $6.2 million budget.


Joel Goodson is a high-achieving high school student who lives with his wealthy parents in the Chicago North Shore area of Glencoe. His father wants him to attend Princeton University, his alma mater, so Joel participates in Future Enterprisers, an extracurricular activity in which students work in teams to create small businesses. When his parents go away on a trip, Joel's friend, Miles, convinces him to take advantage of his newfound freedom to have some fun. On the first night, he raids the liquor cabinet, plays the stereo loudly, and dances around the living room in his briefs and button-down shirt to "Old Time Rock and Roll". The following day, Miles calls a prostitute named Jackie on Joel's behalf. When Jackie turns out to be a trans woman, Joel pays her just to leave, but before she does, she gives Joel the number for another prostitute named Lana. That night, Joel is unable to sleep and hesitantly calls Lana, who turns out to be a gorgeous blonde woman, and they stay sexually engaged all night.

Lana asks Joel for $300 for her services. He goes to the bank, but when he returns, Lana is gone, along with his mother's expensive Steuben glass egg. Joel finds Lana and demands the egg back, but they are interrupted by Lana's pimp Guido, who pulls a gun. While in his father's Porsche 928, Joel is chased by Guido, but eventually escapes. Lana tells Joel that the egg is with the rest of her stuff at Guido's. Joel lets Lana stay at his house while he goes to school. When he returns, his friends have come over, and Lana has invited another prostitute, Vicki, to stay, but Joel rejects the idea. That night, Joel, Lana, Vicki, and Joel's friend Barry go out and get high on marijuana. After Lana accidentally undoes the parking brake in the Porsche while retrieving her purse, the car rolls down the hill and onto a pier (despite Joel's desperate attempt to stop it); the pier collapses, and the Porsche sinks into Lake Michigan.

When Joel takes the car to a repair shop, he is horrified to learn how much it will cost to fix it. He and Lana later decide to turn his parents' house into a brothel for a night; Joel's share of the profits will pay for the repairs. The party is a huge success; the house is packed with Joel's friends and classmates and Lana's co-workers. However, the recruiter from Princeton, Rutherford, chooses that night to interview Joel for admission to Princeton. The interview is plagued by interruptions, and Rutherford is unimpressed by Joel's resumé. Afterwards, he stays at the party and becomes acquainted with Lana's friends. After the party, Joel and Lana go and make love on the Chicago "L". The next morning, Joel finds his house has been burgled. When he tries to call Lana, Guido answers; he tells Joel that he will let Joel buy back his furniture. Joel and his friends manage to get everything moved back in just as his parents walk in, though his mother notices a crack in her egg. Later, Joel's father congratulates him; the interviewer was very impressed, and Joel will be accepted into Princeton. Joel meets Lana at a restaurant, and they speculate about their future. She tells him that she wants to keep on seeing him; he jokes that it will cost her.



The film was scored by Tangerine Dream. Their music comprises nearly half of the soundtrack album. Also included are songs by Muddy Waters, Prince ("DMSR"), Jeff Beck, Journey, Phil Collins ("In the Air Tonight"), and the song for which the film is best known, "Old Time Rock and Roll" by Bob Seger.[3]

The soundtrack album was released on Virgin Records, Tangerine Dream's record company at the time of the film's release.[citation needed]

The film also includes "Hungry Heart" by Bruce Springsteen, "Every Breath You Take" by The Police, and "Swamp" by Talking Heads.[citation needed] The LP and CD versions of the soundtrack include two different versions of "Love on a Real Train (Risky Business)," both of which are different recordings from the version used in the film for the final love scene or closing credits.[citation needed]


Box office[edit]

The film opened in 670 theaters, with an opening weekend gross of $4,275,327. It went on to gross a total of $63.5 million domestically.[1]

Critical response[edit]

Risky Business was acclaimed by critics. It is also considered by many as one of the best films of 1983.[4][5][6] Janet Maslin, in her 1983 review of the film for The New York Times, called it "part satire, part would-be suburban poetry and part shameless showing off" and said the film "shows an abundance of style", though "you would be hard pressed to find a film whose hero's problems are of less concern to the world at large."[7] She called De Mornay "disarming as a call girl who looks more like a college girl" and credits Cruise with making "Joel's transformation from straight arrow to entrepreneur about as credible as it can be made."[7]

The film holds a 92% "Certified Fresh" rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes based on 49 reviews, with the site's consensus stating; "Featuring one of Tom Cruise's best early performances, Risky Business is a sharp, funny examination of teen angst that doesn't stop short of exploring dark themes".[8] Roger Ebert's review was positive, calling it a film of:

New faces and inspired insights and genuine laughs... one of the smartest, funniest, most perceptive satires in a long time... not only invites comparison with The Graduate, it earns it.[9]—The very best thing about the movie is its dialogue. Paul Brickman, who wrote and directed, has an ear so good that he knows what to leave out. This is one of those movies where a few words or a single line says everything that needs to be said, implies everything that needs to be implied, and gets a laugh. When the hooker tells the kid, 'Oh, Joel, go to school, go learn something,' the precise inflection of those words defines their relationship for the next three scenes.

Variety said the film was like a "promising first novel, with all the pros and cons that come with that territory" and complimented Brickman on "the stylishness and talent of his direction."[10]


The remastered 25th-anniversary edition offers "both the upbeat studio ending and Mr. Brickman's original, more tentative and melancholic conclusion".[11]

In 2015, the film was #31 on Entertainment Weekly's list of the 50 Best High School Movies. The magazine called the film a "sharp satire of privileged suburban teens", portraying the "soul-crushing pressure to be perfect."[12]

In the years since the film's release, the iconic scene featuring Cruise's character dancing in just his shirt, socks and briefs to Bob Seger's rendition of "Old Time Rock and Roll" has been recreated in episodes of many television series, as well as in films, parodies, and advertisements. The song was #100 on AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Songs list.


  1. ^ a b "Risky Business". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 18, 2020.
  2. ^ "Risky Business (1983) - Paul Brickman". AllMovie.
  3. ^ McDonald, Steven. Original Soundtrack— Risky Business at AllMusic
  4. ^ "The Greatest Films of 1983". AMC Filmsite.org. Retrieved May 21, 2010.
  5. ^ "The 10 Best Movies of 1983". Film.com. Retrieved May 21, 2010.
  6. ^ "The Best Movies of 1983 by Rank". Films101.com. Retrieved May 21, 2010.
  7. ^ a b Maslin, Janet (August 5, 1983). "Review: Paul Brickman's Risky Business". The New York Times. New York City: The New York Times Company. Retrieved December 12, 2008.
  8. ^ "Risky Business Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 21, 2010.
  9. ^ Ebert, Roger (January 1, 1983). "Review: Risky Business". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved July 2, 2008.
  10. ^ Review of Risky Business by Variety
  11. ^ Kehr, Dave (October 6, 2008). "New DVDs: 'Risky Business' and 'The Last Laugh'". The New York Times.
  12. ^ "50 Best High School Movies". EW.com. Retrieved 2019-06-22.

External links[edit]