Wednesday, June 23, 2010

When Tom Cruise Was Fun

I had every intention on reviewing "Knight and Day", Tom Cruise's new film... but I never got around to it in this post... so I'll do it in a day or so.  Until then... enjoy the Tom Cruise discussion...

Its been a long time since Tom Cruise was fun, I'd put it at least four or five years.  His recent movies have been less than stellar... The Lovely Steph Leann liked "Der Mavericke" a lot more than I did, and both of us thought "Lions for Lambs" was a snoozefest, and I thought Mission Impossible III was absolutely a waste of time.   I mean, let's be honest... ever since the whole "jumping off the Oprah's couch for Katie" debacle, he's been nothing but a bad press garnering, Scientology spewing, Paramount fightin', Brooke Shields accusing, Katie Holmes Brainwashin dork... (Cruise responded to this post by saying, "d$.  d$, d$, you don't even-- you're glib. You don't even know what Ritalin is.")

And flipping through his IMDb page, I realized something... he's done 33 movies that have been released, and I've seen 32 of them, with only 1983's "Losin' It" to be seen.  Tom Cruise, like him or not, is an icon of Hollywood culture, and an actor that I've practically grown up with.  You can count me on Team Nicole over Team Katie (or Team Mimi, if we're going to go back all the way), but let's rank Tom Cruise's films...

First, we lose "Losin' It", because I've never seen it.  Then, let's knock out the ones I've seen, but really don't remember enough to make any sort of sensible judgement on... that would take out "The Outsiders"... "Taps"... and "All the Right Moves"...

Now, let's cut out the films where he made either uncredited appearances, or cameos, no matter how memorable... that takes out "Endless Love"... "Young Guns".... "Austin Powers in Goldmember" and "Tropic Thunder" (were it not for Robert Downey Jr, Cruise would steal this movie)...

Next, let's remove his latest film, "Knight and Day", which I'll review on my next post, but its still too new to compare to his other films. 

25... "Eyes Wide Shut" (1999).  I wanted to kill myself. 
24... "Vanilla Sky" (2001).  I wanted to kill myself.
23... "Far and Away" (1992).  The Lovely Steph Leann was delighted.  I, however, wanted to kill myself.
22... "Born on the Fourth of July" (1989).  I probably should have liked this movie more.  I would have killed myself, but I was too bored.
21... "Lions for Lambs", (2007).  Cruise trying to make a political statement.  It failed.
20... "Legend" (1986).  I used to love this movie as a kid.  I watch it now and its a reminder of how easily amused I was at 12 years old. Tim Curry is creepy cool.  Everything else in the movie just sucked.
19... "War of the Worlds" (2005). I really wanted to like this movie, but just couldn't do it.
18... "Valkryie" (2008).  I wasn't a huge fan when I saw it, but I want to see it again.  I think it might grow on me.  However, every time Tom Cruise says "Der Fuhrer", I laugh.  Can't help it.
17... "Mission Impossible III" (2006).  It has some promise, but fails to deliver on several levels.
16... "Magnolia" (1999).  Frank Mackey is probably one of my top five Tom Cruise characters.  Not for everyone, but I liked the large cast, and the odd storytelling.  And Julianne Moore.  I'll watch her in anything.  And I have, because I saw "The Forgotten".  That movie was terrible.
15...  "Days of Thunder" (1990).  Tom Cruise's most Craptastic role, portraying NASCAR driver Cole Trickle (no mention as to any relation to Dick).  Enjoyable guilty pleasure.
14... "Mission Impossible II" (2000).  A pretty good follow up.  It helps that Dougray Scott is so cool.
13... "Interview with the Vampire" (1994).  Saw it when I was 18, enjoyed it.  Not one I'll see over and over.  Cruise's hair is hilarious.
12... "Rain Man" (1988).  Dustin Hoffman is brilliant in this film, and Cruise really just plays sidekick, but still without him, it doesn't work nearly as well.

Which brings us to my Top Cruise Top Ten... we're at 11, you say?  Well, the next two movies, I couldn't decide which I liked more, so they tie for 10th...

10-tie... "Risky Business" (1983).  Tom Cruise's iconic scene where he slides into the living room in his tighty-whiteys, lip-syncing "Old Time Rock and Roll" sent sales of Wayfarer sunglasses through the roof... rightly so, and the entire movie is a great time.  To save money for college, he opens up a house of ill repute in his own home, and Rebecca De Morney is the Woman of the Night with a heart of gold.

10-tie... "Cocktail" (1988).  If "Days of Thunder" is Cruise's most Craptastic film, THIS is his "so-bad-its-awesome" film.  Everything about this movie is terrible, from the hair to the dialogue to Bryan Brown mailing it in.  But it has three things going for it... first, an awesome soundtrack, which I own on vinyl.  Second, Elisabeth Shue, who was so darn cute in "The Karate Kid" a few years before, is all growed up and hot.  I miss her.  Finally, the bartending moves in this flick are just awesome.  Makes me want to toss coffee shots at Starbucks.

9... "Top Gun" (1986).  What about this film isn't dated?  The hair, the sunglasses, the lines, the oiled up, homoerotic volleyball, the disturbing neck licking love scene, Val Kilmer being thin (seriously, in "MacGruber", Iceman looks like he ate Jester AND Viper).  Back then, it was as cool as you could get.  Now?  The Unintentional Comedy Scale is through the roof.

8... "The Firm" (1993).  My favorite of the Grisham novels, my second favorite Grisham adaptation (I dig "The Pelican Brief"), it varies from the novel in several ways, but Cruise shines here, surrounded by an always great Ed Harris, a charming Holly Hunter and Gene Hackman, who seems like he's having fun here.  It does freak me out that the Quaker Oatmeal Man drops the F-bomb.  The fact that Jeanne Tripplehorn can't act her way out of a Band-Aid commercial is inconsequential.  This movie was also the basis for a popular blog written while on missions in 2008, called "Its Not Sexy But Its Got Teeth".

7... "The Color of Money" (1986).  This movie rocks.  Flat out rocks.  Cruise and his poofy hair actually stand tall with Paul Newman, no small order, and the pool playing is outta sight.  Along with Lizzy Shue, another 80s goddess for me was Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and she is awesome too. 

6... "Mission Impossible" (1996).  I watched this movie a few weeks ago for the first time in a long, long time, and I gotta be honest with ya... it holds up.  I mean, we're all spoiled now with the movie technology that has come along in the last 15 years, but MI is a pretty good film.  The security room scene where Ethan Hunt is hanging from a few wires over a floor that he can't sweat on is still fantastic, and being older, I kinda understand the film better than I did when I saw it at 20 years old.

5... "The Last Samurai" (2003).  Perhaps I'm in the minority, I thought this movie was brilliant.  Cruise almost seems miscast here, but somehow he makes it work (better him than Costner), and Ken Watanabe is amazing.  The battle scenes are great, the story is great, and I wonder why more people don't discuss this film, as its pretty much forgotten.  Not "The Forgotten", however.  That was a terrible film.

4... "Collateral" (2004).  Probably on The Dave125, somewhere in that 101st to 125th favorite movie of all time.  Tom Cruise is a bad guy (!) here, and its just a solid film over all.  Michael Mann directed, and its shot in dark tones, dim lighting and Cruise and Jamie Foxx mesh really well together. 

3... "Jerry Maguire" (1996).  My 90th favorite film of all time, I have to stop and watch this movie.  Cruise hasn't done a ton of chick flicks... really, there's this and maybe "Far and Away".  Is this a chick flick, or a sports movie?  Who knows.  Who cares.  He's surrounded by a solid cast, and shines as the troubled sports agent stuck with his only client, an egotistical football player.  And his chemistry with Renee Zellweger is solid too.  Was "you complete me" before "you complete me" was a punchline.

2... "Minority Report" (2002).  Wow.  The opening of this movie is one of my top five movie opening sequences of all time... just the sheer spectacle of the video screens in the air, and moving the pieces with his fingers in the air, just fantastic.  There's nothing about this movie that I don't like, which is why its my 38th favorite film of all time.

1... "A Few Good Men" (1992).  When doing The Dave100, 2010 edition, it was difficult choosing where to put this movie.  I've seen this movie at least three dozen times--three times in the theater when it came out--and its just one of those movies I could watch from any point to the end, and be happy. 

I met Kevin Pollak (Lt. Weinberg) some years ago, and asked him about some of his movies, and he chalks this up to one of his favorites, and rightly so.  The acting is superb, its just language and some violence that gives it the R, and not a gettin-it-on scene to be found anywhere, which was quite refreshing to me.  By far, its Demi Moore's best film, and though he's done several that I like, this is indeed my favorite Jack film... and of course, my favorite Tom Cruise movie, and it ranks as my 24th favorite film of all time. 

  Warning:  Some of the langauge is not Emmy Turnbow Safe... another warning.  This is in Divx.  Beware the inferior video quality.

So there is a run down of Cruise movies.  Like Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts, they are Hollywood Legends to you and me, making movies since we were just old enough to understand movies, all during our childhood, our teen years and now our adult lives.  We've grown up with them. 

Next up... my review of "Knight and Day"...


  1. i love a few good men.. lots of talented actors and it just something i could watch over and over again...

  2. I can't say I'd agree with your ranking of the Tom Cruise body of work, but I do agree with you on The Last Samurai - a real quality piece of work. And Ken Watanabe is AWESOME! However, I think The Firm was a far better film than The Pelican Brief - as far as Grisham adaptations go.

  3. Oh and you're SO right about The Forgotten - painful on all levels.

  4. I think its because although I liked the Pelican Brief as a novel, I loved The Firm (read it three times), so when the movie varied as much as it did, it irritated me... the P'Brief movie didn't vary quite as much, and I liked the fact they didnt hook up at the end of the movie (Denzel, being a Christian and a family guy, said he wouldn't do the movie if his character and Julia Roberts got it on)


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