The problem with becoming incredibly powerful in Hollywood is that eventually you make a movie like Vanilla Sky.
Cameron Crowe is a brilliant writer and a brilliant director. Almost Famous was an amazing movie, Jerry Maguire was a very good movie, Say Anything is a classic, and even Singles was highly under-rated. And let's not forget that this man also wrote Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Genius.
So he was bound to put together a God-awful flick one of these days.
Tom Cruise is America's darling. He makes big movies. Mission: Impossible I and II. Interview with a Vampire. The Firm. Jerry Maguire. Even his bit part in Magnolia garnered him much deserved praise. One of these days, they're going to break down and give him an Academy Award.
I'm told that Vanilla Sky is a remake of a Spanish thriller named "Abre Los Ojos" (Open Your Eyes). They say the Spanish film is very, very good. The remake is not.
Vanilla Sky is about a man whose entire life gets screwed up beyond all get-out because he can't control his libido. Tom Cruise is having casual sex with Cameron Diaz. Then he meets Penelope Cruz and falls madly in love in one night. This pisses Cameron Diaz off. Then there's a car accident. A disfigurement. An affair. A return from the grave. Kurt Russell. A murder that may not be a murder. A mask. And Hell if I know what's supposed to be happening.
The movie has a trick ending, which I guess is all the rage these days. But unlike The Sixth Sense, where finding out that Bruce Willis...you have seen it, right? I mean I don't want to give away the ending of The Sixth Sense in a review of Vanilla Sky. That'd be pretty lame. Like when I told everyone that the girl in The Crying Game was really a guy in my review of Blown Away. That was bad. Oh wait, didn't you know the secret to The Crying Game? Damn.
Where was I?
Anyway, the trick ending of Vanilla Sky doesn't so much make you settle back with a smile on your face, pleased at having witnessed something clever and imaginative. Rather, it makes you stand up out of your seat and shout back at the screen.
"That's it? That's stupid! Lame!!! Lame, lame, lame, lame, lame!!!"
Meanwhile, until that trick ending shows up to explain everything, you're left sitting hunched down in your seat, smoldering angrily.
"There sure as Hell better be a trick ending that explains this nonsense or I'm breaking out the can of Whoop-Ass."
The sad thing about the film, aside from the idea of millions of people watching it and being left cold and empty, is that they tried to make a good movie. They really did. There's lots of sex in it, that's always a good thing, right? There's some violence, a car crash, plenty of drinking, being disrespectful to one's parents and/or authority. Basically, it's filled to the brim with junk that would have pissed off the CAP Alert guy if he were still around. But in the end, you don't care. It's over two hours long and those hours would be better spent in a Turkish Prison.
Can Tom Cruise do no wrong? No. He can do wrong. And here, he has most certainly done wrong. He does an awful lot of acting in this movie. You see him acting all over the place. "Look at me, Ma! I'm acting!!"
And yet, the truth is, his character is a very rich, good-looking, powerful young man who can have any woman he wants, lives in splendor, lives the life of everyone's dreams. Do you really think Tom needed to do any kind of research for that role?
To top it off, Tom spends a huge chunk of the film wearing a Michael Myers mask. (From Halloween, not Austin Powers). What's the point in casting a pretty boy when you hide his damn face? What is this, Phantom of the Spanish Remake?
There will, I'm sure, be people who say that I'm too harsh, that I just didn't get it, etc. To them I say, oh I got it. It was just stupid. You want a clever, mind-altering flick? Go see Mulholland Drive. Go see Memento. Vanilla Sky ain't it, baby. Not by a long shot.
Vanilla Sky gets 1 1/2 Babylons. Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz both spend an adequate amount of time naked and in bed, though not with each other, which would have given the flick another 1/2 Babylon or so.
1 1/2 Babylons! I'm surprised that the SMC didn't giveit at least 2 or 3 Babylons for the fact that there was a character played by someone named Mark Kozelek that was credited as the "Dude, fix your face guy".
Directed By: Cameron Crowe
Starring: Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz, Kurt Russell, Jason Lee and Cameron Crowe's brilliance, on display for all to see, hear, applaud and worship.