Scholars of Cocktail, 1988’s premier 103-minute advertisement for the glamorous world of mixology, tend to agree that the film has only a single flaw. Namely, the lack of 21st century comedians wandering into the film’s scenes, quipping bemusedly, and pretending to get punched in the face by Tom Cruise. Luckily, former Mr. Show writer Mike Upchurch was unwilling to let said travesty stand and has bent his digital acumen toward creating Cocktail & Dreams, the surreal short film Cocktail was always meant to be. The key change, of course, is the addition of relentlessly low-key stand-up Chris Fairbanks into Roger Donaldson’s tale of melodrama, maturation, and rapidly spinning bottles. Fairbanks plays Chris, the needy, volatile friend of “Tom” and “Australian Guy” (Cocktail stars Tom Cruise and Bryan Brown), whose indifference to their best buddy sparks a war of revenge that eventually spirals down into territory reminiscent of Too Many Cooks.
The video is intended as a proof-of-concept for something Upchurch is calling Electric Television. And while the digital effects on display are super crude—Robert Zemeckis pulled the same trick off far more smoothly in 1994 with Forrest Gump, with merely several thousand times Upchurch’s budget—the writing and Fairbanks’ alternately good-natured and unhinged performance really sell the comedy. Fairbanks isn’t the only digital insertion, either; be on the lookout for references to other films in Upchurch’s glorious and alternate Chis Fairbanks-filled version of 1980s cinema.