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Vanilla Sky

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Vanilla Sky

Starring: Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz
Director: Cameron Crowe
Rated: R
RunTime: 130 Minutes
Release Date: December 2001
Genres: Drama, Romance

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Steve Rhodes review follows movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review
2.  Dustin Putman read the review movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewmovie review
3.  Edward Johnson-Ott read the review ---
4.  Harvey Karten read the review ---

Review by Steve Rhodes
2½ stars out of 4

Is the world ready for a horribly disfigured Tom Cruise? Well, if Gwyneth Paltrow's fans accepted her in a 300-pound fat suit in SHALLOW HAL, then Cruise with a terribly mangled face shouldn't be that much of a problem. VANILLA SKY's convoluted script and meandering direction, both by Cameron Crowe (JERRY MAGUIRE and ALMOST FAMOUS), are where the troubles lie. A murky thriller, the movie is based on the Spanish film OPEN YOUR EYES, which we are constantly reminded of by Sofia Serrano (Penélope Cruz), whose favorite phrase is "open your eyes." Cruz starred in the original film as well.

In a story in which dreams and reality are constantly intermixed, fabulously wealthy David Aames (Tom Cruise) wakes to a New York City day in which the whole town has decided to sleep in. It's nine o'clock in the morning, and no one's there, not even in perpetually populated Times Square. This time it's easy to guess that it's a dream, most other times aren't. (Imagine the difficulties of filming this scene in which there isn't anyone stirring, not even a mouse. It must have been a Herculean logistical effort.)

David, who's fighting a raging battle against the "Seven Dwarfs," his board of directors, inherited all of his money from his media baron father. His father's best selling book starts out: "The answer to ninety-nine out of one hundred questions in the world is 'money.'"

David's trophy girlfriend, who really isn't a girlfriend at all but a great sex buddy, is a beautiful blonde named Julie, who is played in an Oscar worthy supporting role by Cameron Diaz. Although David thinks their strictly sexual relationship is hunky-dory, Julie wants something more.

Another delightful supporting performance is given by the ever reliable Jason Lee as David's best bud, Brian Shelby. His sharp wit is best seen in a near death event that they survive without a scratch. "We were almost dead there, and you know what happened? Your life flashed in front of me," Brian tells David.

One day, into David's life comes Sofia, whom Julie ridicules by calling her a "moth" and who David believes is the "last guileless girl in New York." Penélope Cruz proves again, as she did in CAPTAIN CORELLI'S MANDOLIN and a half dozen other recent films, that she is a wonderfully sweet woman with a great smile who just can't act.

After this setup, the labyrinthine plot goes on and on. It's the sort of movie that, if you watch it on video, will probably have you leaving to do housework while asking your spouse to give you a call when something finally happens.

The great science fiction ending, which pulls a wildly improbable explanation almost out of thin air, and Diaz's terrific performance almost make the movie worth it's long running time. Someone should buy Crowe a pair of scissors. I'd love to see a much shorter director's cut.

VANILLA SKY runs 2:20. It is rated R for "sexuality and strong language" and would be acceptable for teenagers.

Copyright © 2001 Steve Rhodes

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