It’s kind of weird — there’s nobody in Hollywood that attracts as much snark and derision as a personality than Tom Cruise, and yet almost all of his movies make money, there are so, so many of them, and more of them are good than bad. Is it his impossible good looks? His religion? His excessive enthusiasm and zest for life? The fact that most of the time he plays super-cocky guys that could stand to be taken down a peg or two? I don’t know, but I do know better than to bet against Oblivion, which opened this past weekend. Need proof? Cue up almost any of his 24 movies available on Blockbuster On Demand, lie back, and enjoy The Cruise.
A straight-A high school student (Cruise) meets an extra sexy young call girl (Rebecca DeMornay), drives his dad’s Porsche into a lake, and turns the family home into a whorehouse while his parents are out of town for the weekend. Princeton could use a guy like Joel!
A super-cocky Navy pilot (you know who) goes to train with the best of the best, breaks all the rules, shares some uncomfortably long stares with Val Kilmer, plays volleyball, and beats the Russkies in a dogfight without starting World War III. All in a day’s work!
A high-end car salesman (who else?) learns he’s been cut out of his estranged father’s will in favor of the severely autistic older brother (Dustin Hoffman) he never knew he had, so he kidnaps him in hopes of getting a cut of the cash. Everyone remembers Hoffman’s performance, but this was Cruise’s first meaty dramatic role, for which he drew (deserved) critical accolades.
Clear-eyed Long Island kid Ron Kovic eagerly enlists in the Marines to fight in Vietnam, but when he comes back paralyzed from the waist down and severely shellshocked, his feelings about the war slowly change until he’s leading protest parades from his wheelchair. Based on a true story and directed by Oliver Stone, this is probably the best piece of Serious Acting in Cruise’s career.
Harvard’s top law school graduate takes a job with a small Memphis firm, only to learn that it handles all the Mob’s business and that some dishonest measures have been taken to keep him in the fold. Based on the John Grisham novel, directed by Sydney Pollack, and sporting a stellar supporting cast: Gene Hackman, Holly Hunter, David Strathairn, and Jeanne Tripplehorn.
Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1999 follow-up to Boogie Nights is one of a handful of movies where Cruise has taken a part in the ensemble rather than the lead; here he takes his screen persona to a disturbing extreme as an insanely confident ladies’ man giving self-help seminars.
It’s every actor’s dream to work with a director like Stanley Kubrick — until they actually work with Stanley Kubrick. Cruise got to do just that in 1999, starring opposite his then-wife Nicole Kidman as an affuent doctor so unsettled by his wife’s admission of a sexual fantasy he goes out looking for payback in a seamy sexual underworld.
He’s starred in four movies based on the old ’60s spy show, but for our money the best was the third, helmed by J.J. Abrams (in what would prove to be only the first old property he’d rejuvenate) and co-starring the lovely Michelle Monaghan, with Philip Seymour Hoffman as a better villain than most.
You could be forgiven for not even knowing The Cruise was in this movie: he’s under about 40 pounds of makeup, fat suit, and bald wig, playing Les Grossman, the sleazy studio producer overseeing Tropic Thunder, the ridiculous Vietnam movie-within-the-movie starring Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr. (under quite a bit of makeup himself) and Jack Black. Cruise has almost never done comedy, but he’s pretty funny here.