Cruise stars as a flamboyant, upwardly mobile bartender in this glossy, cliched film that, inexplicably, was one of the biggest hits of 1988. Discharged from the Army, Cruise returns to his Queens home, but his sights are set on Manhattan, where he plans to make his fortune. Failing to

land a fast-track job, he enrolls in some college business courses and begins tending bar at an upscale watering hole. There, veteran Aussie barkeep Brown makes Cruise his protege--not only teaching him to mix drinks like a juggler and negotiate the bar like John Travolta but also imparting his

cynical philosophy of life, which includes the ambition to marry a rich woman and thereby live the good life without having to work too hard. Although falling in love with artist-type Shue, Cruise succumbs to Brown's mentality and becomes the lover of high-powered executive Banes. Soon, however,

he realizes that he has made the wrong choice. Adapted by novelist and screenwriter Gould (THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL; FORT APACHE: THE BRONX) from his book based on his experiences as a Manhattan bartender, the film is loaded with cliches, particularly when its love story takes center stage. The

athletic bartending by Cruise and Brown is certainly flashy, however, and director Donaldson and cinematographer Semler (THE ROAD WARRIOR) give it the standard MTV treatment. In fact, with no fewer than 17 of Donaldson's favorite rock songs and a complete lack of dramatic impetus, COCKTAIL would

fare better as an extended-play music video.