Ray-Ban Wayfarers have never looked more appealing than on a young, fresh faced Tom Cruise. I’ve never seen Tom Cruise this young, and now I know why he was such a heartthrob back then.
Cruise plays Joel, a preppy and frustrated high school student, preparing for college along with his friends. He’s the typical good boy who is mocked in the beginning for being too cautious, and for not taking any risk. His passive attitude starts to change upon meeting call girl Lana, the girl that every boy off the lake wants.
For me, the movie is about the responsibilities that teenagers will ultimately have to carry once they become adults. Because honestly, teenagers are still kids, they’re still a long way from maturity and mostly focus on the little things that in the long run will no longer matter when they’re older. In my opinion, the main characters in the film are representations of the different personas people take on to get where they want to be.
Joel is the fear and reluctance that teenagers have when faced with important life changing decisions. In high school, those significant decisions were about grades, reputation, college, and where the hell one was headed. Joel just wanted to get by all of those things without much fuss. As long as he was hassle-free, it was fine. Once things started going haywire, he had no choice but to let go of his old cautious self. Because if he had kept saying no to everything, especially to Lana’s suggestion on how to get the money for his dad’s car, then he wouldn’t have managed to fix it. The point is he tried.
Miles is the accepting and laid back voice we all have in our heads that constantly tell us, "what the f*ck", which is what his motto in the movie is. But once trouble is in sight, Miles immediately admits that he was just “f*cking around” and that the things he said weren’t supposed to be taken seriously. His character is the perfect example of the person who can talk the talk, but can’t walk the walk. Despite this character flaw, he’s a good friend to Joel.
Lana is the manipulative and mischievous urge we all get every now and then. The idea is seductive and may please our current desire, but when the day is done, we end up questioning ourselves, whether we could have done things differently.
The movie’s message is very simple. It's all about taking chances and learning from them, because no matter how careful we try to be, we are all bound to make mistakes sooner or later, like Joel. We just have to get used to it and deal with it in our own way. Because when the sh*t hits the fan, you can’t just stand there and stare at it, that would do nothing. You have to do what you can do, and clean that crap up.