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Vanilla Sky (2001)

  Directed by: Cameron Crowe
Starring: Tom Cruise, Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Jason Lee, Kurt Russell, Noah Taylor
Links: Vanilla Sky on the IMDb, Official site, Buy on DVD, Buy the Soundtrack, Buy on Video
Genre: Drama

This movie gets: 4.50 (2 ratings)
nofreelist.com Ranking: Ranked equal 158th of 187 movies (2 ratings minimum; see full chart)

Vanilla Sky (2001) is also mentioned in mino's review of Magnolia (1999) and mino's review of The Last Samurai (2003).

"Still scratching my head" - a review by mino

Lordy me, I've had a bad run recently. First Minority Report (2002), now this. Why oh why oh why do so many movies try so hard to have a 'twist ending' these days, when they just can't carry it off? I mean, having an ending that makes people go 'wow, that's great!', is one thing. Having an ending that makes people go 'what in the name of all that's holy was that?' is another thing again.

Vanilla Sky is a remake of a Spanish movie, Open your Eyes (1997). Penélope Cruz keeps the role she had in the original; and I'm sorry, but (not having seen the Spanish film), I have to say that if it's as god-awful as this heap of tripe, then I'm glad I don't speak Spanish.

Vanilla Sky tells the story of David Aames (Tom Cruise), an irritating rich-boy publisher, who is used to getting everything he wants, including the odd casual fling with long-time friend Julie (Cameron Diaz). When he falls for an exotic beauty named Sofia (Cruz), though, it all starts to fall apart. Before long, Aames has to rebuild his shattered life, and he very quickly loses track of fantasy and reality.

The story itself, a kind of 'twisted romance'-slash-'morality tale', is quite interesting, though it is told in the very well-worn, and by now irritating, 'flashback from a psychologist's session' style, which started to grate about five movies ago. The acting performances are passable, but it's one of those movies where you get the impression that people are playing the roles so well because that's what they're actually like in real life.

Diaz, say, plays the 'ditzy if somewhat creepy blonde' oh-so-well; so well, in fact, that it's all she ever plays. Kurt Russell walks around in that slightly-perplexed-looking way that only the truly perplexed can muster. Even Jason Lee, the only truly good actor on the screen here, just plays the 'bitter smart-arse' that one suspects he is in real life. And as for why Cruz plays a wide-eyed, slightly kooky, boyfriend-stealer, and Cruise himself plays an arrogant and annoying git (much as in Magnolia (1999)), well, I'm sure you can work that out. Cruz, in particular, is annoying: her repertoire seems to extend in all directions only as far 'meekly naïve Latin beauty', leaving her a kind of 'poor man's Salma Hayek'.

As is so often the case, though, a good movie is here ruined by an awful ending. I'll try not to give too much away, but really, it's execrable. Vanilla Sky takes a twist which beggars belief, and will leave you sitting there scratching your head and wishing that the camera had stopped working a good three-quarters-of-a-mile of film ago. It's an attempt to make the movie 'thought-provoking'; it works, but the only thoughts it will provoke are those of a 'why did I watch this, exactly?' nature.

A lot of people thought that Vanilla Sky would play poorly in Australia because it's the film that marks the theft of Cruise, by Cruz, from the heart of Our Nic; if Australians have any taste, though, they won't hate the film for sentimental reasons like that. They'll hate it because it's awful. If Cruz is the poor man's Hayek, Vanilla Sky is the poor man's The Matrix (1999). Personally, I wouldn't bother.

mino gives this movie 3 out of 10.
Review created on Sun 18 Aug 2002

"Something unexpected" - a review by pearly

Tom Cruise plays David Aames, a rich magazine empire owner. His parents left him a 51% share in their company, and he cruises through life, much to the disgust of the "7 dwarves", the 7 other board members who hold the remaining 49%.

When David's best friend Brian (Jason Lee) brings Sofia (Penélope Cruz) along to his birthday party, he is instantly smitten by her. Sofia and David's relationship is hindered by his "stalker" friend Julie (Cameron Diaz), who is perhaps a little more hooked on David than David is on her.

This movie was absolutely nothing like what I expected from it. Much in the vein of Magnolia (1999) or The Sixth Sense (1999), it's the kind of film that you should see before someone tells you too much about it. And I won't spoil it here. Suffice to say that the first third or so of the film moves along quite normally; David turns up to work late (again), David plucks another grey hair from his head, David falls for Sofia. And then, it all goes pear-shaped. The common thread of David's dreams versus his reality begin to intertwine more than ever, and it becomes difficult to distinguish one from the other. Don't be surprised if you're sitting there for the middle half of the film wondering what is going on; I was.

Cruise actually does quite well in his role as the rough-and-ready David. Cameron Diaz is Cameron Diaz; nothing new here. Jason Lee is wonderful as David's best friend - he provides a totally different element to the movie. And Aussie Noah Taylor (who doesn't appear until towards the end of the movie) is adequate, but not brilliant. Watch (don't blink) for the cameo by Steven Spielberg at David's birthday party.

If you think Tom is better suited to Penelope than Nicole, chances are you'll enjoy their chemistry in this film. If you liked Jason Lee in any of the Kevin Smith films (Chasing Amy (1997), Dogma (1999)) then it's worth seeing the film just for his performance.

pearly gives this movie 6 out of 10.
Review created on Tue 18 Dec 2001

Movie review statistics

Number of reviews: 2
Average rating: 4.50
Lowest rating: 3 (by mino)
Highest rating: 6 (by pearly)
 
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