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Risky Business Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    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.

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  • 60

    out of 100

    The New York Times Janet Maslin

    Risky Business improves as it goes along.

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  • 70

    out of 100


    Risky Business is like a promising first novel, with all the pros and cons that come with that territory.

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  • See all Risky Business reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 16+

Sexy Cruise classic still a risky choice for kids.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this popular comedy is also very deservedly R-rated. It has sex (both in comical fantasy scenes and reality), nudity, profanity, glorified substance abuse, and an especially jaundiced outlook: a teen embarks on the road to manhood by becoming a part-time pimp, and the message is that in modern America that's a wise move, financially and socially. Because the young hero is played by good-guy star Tom Cruise, and because his character escapes punishment in the end, young viewers might interpret this as an endorsement, not a subversive satire.

  • Families can talk about the character of Joel and the message beneath the movie's mordantly amusing comedy. What has Joel gained by the end? Has it made him a better person? Do you think Lana intending to trick him all along? What would you do in Joel's predicament? How does this sexy comedy compare to sex comedies today, like Superbad?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: Though Joel "Goodson" (that name is Irony 101) doesn't get to keep his ill-gotten earnings, he otherwise escapes punishment in the end and wins much greater prizes: a boost in life and an evident discovery of his destiny, which is to become rich and materially successful. He doesn't seem "evil" or "corrupt" in the traditional sense (he worries about the welfare of his girlfriend-whore Lana even as he believes she used and betrayed him), but definitely has no problem with being a pimp. Prostitution looks like a temptingly glamorous (and self-empowering) career choice, and just about all female characters are treacherous tramps or harsh authoritarians. Obviously this was meant as satire of 1980s values, but it comes across as close to an endorsement.

What to watch for
  • violence false1

    Violence: Reckless driving and car collisions; a gun waved around.

  • sex false4

    Sex: Sex and prostitution are key plot ingredients, with brief full-frontal female nudity, and girls in skimpy, provocative clothes. Simulated sex, in dream sequences and even in public places, and talk of masturbation. One sex worker is a cross-dressing man.

  • language false4

    Language: The F-word is used repeatedly, including in what would be the script's catchphrase: "Sometimes you just have to say `What the f--k.'" Plus "s--t," "asshole," and "damn."

  • consumerism false2

    Consumerism: The status-symbol Porsche automobile and Princeton University get major thumbs-up.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false4

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Much tobacco-smoking, specifically intended to signify a young character as "cool." Underaged drinking of alcohol and smoking of marijuana.