Writer-director Paul Brickman’s satire of Reagan-era upper-middle-class aspirations remains as trenchant as ever. Virginal teen Joel Goodsen’s desire for sex actually comes in a distant second to his desire to please his dad (say that last name aloud) by getting into Princeton. He doesn’t really have the grades, but what he does have are some crude entrepreneurial skills and Tom Cruise’s winning grin. No wonder he falls for working girl Rebecca De Mornay’s head for biz as much as he does her bod for sin.
The movie’s comic set piece has Joel trying to weather the alumni interview at the precise moment that De Mornay’s galpals are turning the rest of Joel’s house into a brothel to service his similarly unfulfilled buddies. Turns out Joel knows what the interviewer (perfectly deadpan Richard Masur) is looking for better than either man realized. (His frank assessment: “Princeton could use a guy like Joel.”) Cruise himself never attended college, but this role helped the 20-year-old graduate to leading man status.