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Thursday, 09 September
I was just watching a rerun of a Daily Show that I hadn't seen due to Olympic nonfever, and it featured an interview with Tom Cruise. What a toothsome bantam! I decided that, over the years, this fellow has received more than his share of jabs and insults, and I realized, Man, I'm way behind. So here I give a very abbreviated overview of Mr. Cruise's film career.
Cruise began with a dinky role in Endless Love, a movie that dared to ask the question, "If I show Brooke Shields fucking, will that make up for her acting?" Though the answer was an unqualified "NO!", nothing ever stopped Zeffirelli from making his terrible movies anyway.
No, Mr. Cruise first caught everyone's eye in Taps, where he first hit upon his dramatic technique of indicating raw intensity by clenching his throat muscles. Clench, Tom, clench! Pretend you're eating from the craft services table!
After Taps came a movie that I'm sure made sense to everyone (read: no one): Losin' It, a tepid sex comedy with . . . Shelley Long. I can only assume that this project was the brainchild of some incredibly willful pervert who browbeat every dumb development nerd in Hollywood into something like catatonia. "Yes . . . Jesus . . . shoot your horrible movie . . . just get out of my office . . . " Interestingly, the movie was directed by Curtis Hanson, later of LA Confidential fame (a bona fide really good movie), as well as 8 Mile. I think I'd lay awake at nights pondering a career which saw me describing the decidedly strange arc from Shelley Long to Eminem; I imagine myself drawing weird, abstract shapes as I connected the cultural footnote-dots in my brain.
Cruise of course hit it big with Risky Business, really just another sex comedy, albeit a clever one, where he creates a brothel out of his own house while his folks are away. I'm pretty sure the infamous "sex on the subway" scene with Rebecca DeMornay also had a lot to do with this film's success. In retrospect, the film is interesting for a couple reasons: one, it's slightly baffling that one of the most famous lines from the movie contains the uninspiring phrase "What the fuck?", and two, Rebecca DeMornay is still pretty hot. How the fuck old is she?
Moving along, there was the relative failure of All the Right Moves, which was clearly not in any way. Cruise plays a steeltown jock from the wrong side of the tracks and hey hey, everyone's bored! If I recall correctly, he gets the dubious honor of putting the wood to Lea Thompson, a strenuously incompetent actress. This wouldn't be the first time Cruise had to endure a blandly pretty placeholder as a love interest.
Next was Legend, which I can barely even think about. Tim Curry was in there somewhere, with hilarious rubber devil horns, and Cruise I think shook weary locks a lot. Horrible. It needed more Oompa-Loompas.
If Risky Business set Cruise up for stardom, it was Top Gun that cemented his career. And I do mean "cemented," mainly with a gigantic shot of implied male ejaculate. An ode to men who work hard, play hard and generally stay hard, this homoerotic hooey was a shockingly huge hit, and doomed us to the evil reign of Simpson/Bruckheimer for years to come. I'm still waiting for the Platinum Edition of this horrendous turkey to come out, featuring the loving mutual fellatio scene between Maverick and Iceman. Maybe Goose is even in there to give a helpful reacharound. Meanwhile, Kelly McGillis sits in the greenroom drafting prenups.
The Color of Money: While one can argue that Cruise has nothing to do here--and he doesn't--he certainly does nothing enthusiastically. When your role is mostly remembered for singing "Werewolves of London" while dancing with a pool cue, perhaps you deserve it. On the other hand, I might be dinging him unfairly for exhibiting pure common sense. It's possible that he was simply getting the fuck out of the way of Paul Newman, in which case, maybe the guy isn't as dumb as I thought.
Next up was Cocktail, which is of course supremely horrible. Cruise here is improbably outacted by Bryan Brown, the Aussie actor you may remember from such fims as F/X and, uh, Cocktail. Not good. In this film, Cruise gets to stick it to Elisabeth Shue, who is only mildly more interesting than, well, a shoe.
After Cocktail, Cruise teamed up with Barry Levinson for Rain Man, a bit of naked Oscar bait for Dustin Hoffman, who played the remarkably functional autistic. Cruise shrewdly stood aside while Hoffman essentially welded two performances together: Brad Dourif's indelible Billy Bibbit from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest combined with Hoffman's own gaze-down work in The Graduate sufficed to make Rain Man an icon. Cruise was again smart enough to get the fuck out of the way, to his credit, and spent most of the film deferring to the Golden Retard. It was to be another brilliant choice.
Christ, this guy has made a lot of pictures. Let's pick this back up tomorrow. Plus, this will give much-needed time for people to yell at me.
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Damn it, get into that kitchen and wash those dishes, you lazy bastard!
You compelled me buy (and subsequently consume) Ravioli-Os, you bastard!
Something something something, you bastard!
I find that post works best if imagined to be read aloud by Bateman from "American Psycho."
Rebecca DeMornay is just a wee young thing - she's 42. A pretty damn hot 42, I might add!
And Top Gun also inflicted on society the use of the term "Wingman," prompting drunken frat guys all across the country to fight over who gets to be Maverick, Goose, Iceman, etc.
All movies need more Oompa-Loompas.
I saw "All the Right Moves" in a third-run theater in Silver Creek, NY. I thought it was very arty, since the plot involved a girl who was pregnant, followed by a scene in which she loses her virginity; then I realized that the projectionist had gotten the reels out of sync. I think it was probably better that way -- I never bothered to see it in the order God and the filmmakers intended.
The next day, a friend went to see the same movie in the same theater, and the reels were still out of order! And the projectionist was a live human being, not a robot. Even he didn't really care enough about the movie to figure out why it made no sense.
No no, Amy, All movies need more Cowbell!
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