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Friday, 10 September
Second Cruise

To continue with the Cruisectomy, it occurs to me that some people might get the idea that I simply don't like Tom Cruise much as an actor. Which I confess is true. I grant that he looks dynamite in front of a camera, is technically proficient, and frequently has an engaging manner, but you can also say these things about people like Ann Richards, or Lassie. Look what it got those two.

Cruise is less an actor than some weird, pervasive phenomenon that has assumed some sort of unkillable social currency; his female analogue would be Julia Roberts, whose tiny bag of Actor Tricks rivals Cruise's for its astonishing shallowness and superficiality. That Roberts won acclaim for Erin Brockovich would be purely astounding if not for the associated cred of director Soderbergh, whose legitimacy apparently rewarded a performance that was one degree removed from that of Flo. Kiss her grits! She's got an Oscar!

Having gained some improbable credibility from Rain Man--was it a dry Levinsonian joke that Cruise's character was introduced with the song "Iko Iko"?--Cruise made his real bid for Cap'n Oscar with Born on the Fourth of July, a movie that I have happily never seen. Unfortunately, I did see the dreadful Bruce Willis catastrophe In Country, and they seem to be nearly the same story, so I will simply ignore the fact that this film was ever made.

Next up was another Bruckheimer/Simpson horror, a retread of Top Gun called Days of Thunder, which everyone pointed out was simply the Air Force moved to a NASCAR venue. Written by the briefly talented Robert Towne in his free-fall career stage and directed by indefatigable hack Tony Scott . . . oy. I don't know how to finish that sentence. Nobody on earth went to see this movie.

Then was Far and Away. Which is exactly where audiences sensibly remained. Nobody on earth went to see this movie either, despite Ron Howard's attempts to shove heather and burnished wood into every scene.

Sensing doom, I think Cruise then must have decided to bank on an easy winner, and found it in the hilariously clunky Aaron Sorkin project A Few Good Men. This military potboiler--directed, incredibly, by the previously sensible Rob Reiner--throws midlevel stars at the camera willy-nilly (Hey, it's that guy! Hey, it's that other guy!"), mostly to distract the viewer from the troubling fact that for the first time in her career, Demi Moore fails to take off her shirt. Sorkin's awkward scripting doesn't help much either--"I want the truth!" now being a comedic infield error--nor does the fact that journeyman Kevin Bacon makes eveyone else look kind of stupid and inept. Demi! Quick! Take your shirt off!

The Firm. What to say? John Grisham is to writing as Sidney Pollack is to directing: they both deserve Tom Cruise. Pollack actually pulled off something remarkable in that he managed to make a film exactly as long, dreary and unsuspenseful as the original novel (Actual line from the book: "Damn, they wanted him."). Whenever I go to empty the garbage and catch a whiff from the dumpster, I think of this movie.

Mission Impossible, a typical Brian DePalma mess, was troublesome. It combined some really great action sequences with an utterly incomprehensible storyline, with a by now totally rote Cruise performance as Indestructible Beautiful Guy. That this movie has many websites as it does protesting about its brilliance is, in my mind, the most damning thing about the movie. If I have to closely read bloggers telling me what the fuck went on in a given movie, it failed. And just so you know, I'm not even going to talk about the horrifying John Woo sequel, which was abominable, and if that's not obvious, then I fold.

In fact, I'm getting tired of all of this. It's depressingly easy to make fun of this guy, and it's also depressingly a tired topic. Tom Cruise? It's like taking on the Vatican: You can write and write and write, but really, who cares? Tom Cruise is forever part of our lives; there's nothing I can do to change that.

Jerry Maguire? I haven't seen it. I don't care.

Magnolia? A ghastly mess. So many friends disagree with me on this. While Cruise Respects His Cock, Jason Robards outacts him by lying around dying. How humiliating.

Let's not even discuss Vanilla Sky, a movie so stupid it seems to wonder when Gallagher is going to show up to smash some melons.

I know I'm leaving out Cruise's latest films like The Last Samurai--which I don't believe anyone on Earth, again, ever saw; and Collateral, which I feel that nobody will.

This whole thing petered out pretty badly, I know. I don't know what to say. I got tired.

So why didn't Tom Cruise?

Note: Comments are closed on old entries.


I saw The Last Samuri. Cruise overacted the. entire. time. I thought he was going to pass out from staring dramatically at someone for so long. Its the Dramatic Staring- he does it in every movie. Gets old, Tom.

Comment number: 005052   Posted by: livie on September 10, 2004 02:55 AM from IP:

The Last Samuari was an excellent role for Tom Cruise. Finally, a supporting cast that makes him look tall.

Comment number: 005053   Posted by: Jerud Colbert on September 10, 2004 06:26 AM from IP:

Were you excluding the time-consuming and incomprehensible Eyes Wide Shut on purpose?

BTW, Tom's next project just got the go-ahead from the studio: War of the Worlds, directed by Spielberg.

I can hear your head exploding ... now.

Comment number: 005054   Posted by: Mickey on September 10, 2004 07:42 AM from IP:

Days of Thunder grossed almost 83 million in the US, so I'd say that SOMEBODY went to see it :) Not to mention that Last Samurai pulled in $448 million worldwide, and Collateral has pulled in almost $90 million in the US alone. Not to say that Cruise didn't suck in them, but your claim that nobody did, or will see these movies is patently untrue :P

Comment number: 005055   Posted by: Ryan Waddell on September 10, 2004 07:53 AM from IP:

Days of Thunder grossed almost 83 million in the US, so I'd say that SOMEBODY went to see it :) Not to mention that Last Samurai pulled in $448 million worldwide, and Collateral has pulled in almost $90 million in the US alone. Not to say that Cruise didn't suck in them, but your claim that nobody did, or will see these movies is patently untrue :P

I find it amusing that you seem to hold me to some factual standard, given my track record. That said, while I don't dispute the numbers you cite, I defy you to find me one person who can give me a brief summary of Days of Thunder without consulting IMDB.

I know that Eyes Wide Shut was a rather glaring omission, but frankly, the memory of that film was like waking up in the morning to find someone truly horrifying sharing your bed. I just couldn't face it.

Comment number: 005056   Posted by: Skot on September 10, 2004 08:22 AM from IP:

"which everyone pointed out was simply the Air Force moved to a NASCAR venue"

He was a Naval Aviator in Top Gun. Not Air Force. HAHA, YOU IMBECILE!

Also, you should see Jerry Maguire. You'll hate it, but Kelly Preston is so hot. "DON'T! EVER! STOP! FUCKING ME!"

Comment number: 005057   Posted by: shrimp on September 10, 2004 08:46 AM from IP:

I don't mean to break up the circle jerk of hate here, but he was actually pretty tolerable in Collateral. Much to my surprise.

Comment number: 005058   Posted by: Shawn on September 10, 2004 09:21 AM from IP:

Having gained some improbable credibility from Rain Man--was it a dry Levinsonian joke that Cruise's character was introduced with the song "Iko Iko"?--

Maybe it was a dry (ha!) joke referencing Cocktail, where the theme song was "Kokomo."

Never mind.

Comment number: 005059   Posted by: norm on September 10, 2004 11:41 AM from IP:

I read once that there were two kinds of actors -- the kind who look different in every role, and the kind who look the same. For the latter, the article said, we don't really go to see them act; we go to see them be them. That's the category Cruise falls in, I think.

Interestingly, I had a directing teacher say the same thing about directors. There are directors where every play of theirs looks different, and ones where every play looks the same. At a rough level, of course.

Comment number: 005060   Posted by: rachel on September 10, 2004 12:22 PM from IP:

I got your Days of Thunder right here. No IMDB. I had HBO, yo and I can watch shitty movies one after the other when I'm hungover. Call it a talent. Here you go:

Tom Cruise: I can race.
Robert Duval: You can't race.
Tom Cruise: I can race good.
Robert Duval: You can't race.

Tom cruise races.

Robert Duval: By God, you CAN race.

Enter Nicole Kidman as nurse

Nicole Kidman: You can't race.
Tom Cruise: I gotta race.
Nicole Kidman: If you race, you'll kill yourself.
Tom Cruise: I gotta race. I can win.

Tom cruise races and crashes. Hospital time.

Nicole Kidman: See?

Male jousting, much homoerotic hoopla, Tom Cruise must race to save his pride, life, best friend, etc.

Tom Cruise: I gotta race, but I can't race.
Nicole Kidman: You can't race or I'm leaving.
Tom Cruise: I gotta race. But I cant. Oh the fear. I gotta race though.
Nicole Kidman: Goodbye.

Tom Cruise stares for a very long time

Tom Cruise: It's the big race. Nicole, it's you!
Nicole kidman: What, i'm not gonna come? Race!
Tom Cruise: I can race!
Robert Duvall: By God, you CAN race!
Tom Cruise: I won.

Catchy 80s music as credits roll

*Jason bows to the audience*

Comment number: 005061   Posted by: Jason on September 10, 2004 12:32 PM from IP:

Dammit. Jason beat me to the punch.

I didn't see DoT in the movie-house, but one drunken evening in the 80s found me heading to Target for something to chew on, and I came home with the VHS tape for less than it would have cost to rent it, so I can (proudly? not exactly) say that I OWN Days of Thunder.

You're welcome to borrow it, Skot.

Comment number: 005062   Posted by: DaveP on September 10, 2004 01:12 PM from IP:

To quote Cintra Wilson, from her book, A Massive Swelling:

"I must warn the world about Tom Cruise. I feel he is an utterly terrifying Superior Life Form, with the power to melt heads and braid spines. His eyes are as hard, shiny and brutally penetrating as diamond drill-bits. The new braces on his teeth suggest that he is erasing all that remained of his tiny imperfections, and he is now metamorphosing into Ultra Super Perfection Man 3000. I fear his intense, mind-beating politeness, his titanium imperviousness to human weakness, his barking power-laugh."

I saw some E! fluff piece on him the other night -- a biography of his entire life -- that completely omitted Nicole Kidman. I guess once you ask him about his marriages, you have to ask him about his divorces, which in turn means you have to ask him about his sexuality or you're just a shitty journalist. Anyway, three or four beers deep and I started to think I LIKED the guy. Something scientological was going on just between Tom and me, I'm pretty sure. Some sort of recruitment.

Comment number: 005063   Posted by: chad on September 10, 2004 02:04 PM from IP:

Skot, do you play requests?

Will you please eviscerate some-movie-or-other this season which EVERYONE will give big smoochy wet ones to otherwise?

I believe it would be best if it were also a film that you found yourself actively enjoying while in the theater.

Comment number: 005064   Posted by: mike on September 10, 2004 09:52 PM from IP:

Aww, you left out Interview With The Vampire!

Comment number: 005065   Posted by: joanne on September 11, 2004 09:43 AM from IP:

If he's so bad,why do you keep watching his films?

Comment number: 005066   Posted by: on September 11, 2004 12:55 PM from IP:

Yeah, Skot, I gotta echo Joanne. How could you chew on the rancid fat of Cruise's career without so much as a mention of his turn as Lestat, the flamboyantly gay vampire? It was the furthest he's ever gone toward trying character work and it's one of the worst performances this side of Barry Pepper in Battlefield Earth.

Comment number: 005067   Posted by: Joe on September 12, 2004 07:15 AM from IP:

I saw some E! fluff piece...

See, that's where you made your first mistake.

Comment number: 005068   Posted by: avogadro on September 13, 2004 07:00 AM from IP:

All this hate, hate, hate for Tom Cruise and we leave Harrison Ford -- seemingly the most constipated man in Hollywood, at least judging by the concentrated moue sprung forth at least every picosecond in every movie he's ever done ever, fuckin' ever -- unmolested. Spread the love, Skot.

Comment number: 005069   Posted by: ColdForged on September 13, 2004 07:19 AM from IP:

What, no "Minority Report"?

Ooooh, he's depressed! We know this because he's looking at pictures of his dead son and toking up on Future Drugs (tm)!

Comment number: 005070   Posted by: Vidiot on September 13, 2004 10:42 PM from IP:

Tom Cruise is an 'a priori' actor. Anyone familiar with the philosophy of Kant would agree, me thinks. He is the 'idea' of an actor. The perfect new aristocrat to fill our brainwaves with pointless pollution.

Let's keep Tom Cruising out of here and onwards to Bobby de Niro who is another one of these cardboard actors. Robert De Niro simply can NOT act. He is walking alongside past glory & old fame. What a terrible terrible curse to be stuck in a maffia persona the whole of your life. Even did a maffia fish in the latest Disney Commercial Cocksucker Tearwanker (Finding Nemo ripoff) movie. How low can you go?

To the bottom of the ocean apparently...

Robert De Niro is waiting;
talking Italian...

Comment number: 005071   Posted by: More Pollution on September 14, 2004 02:58 PM from IP:

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