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
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
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