Tom Cruise “isn’t that funny?” What???

Posted by · 9:22 am · August 11th, 2008

Tom Cruise on the set of Tropic ThunderI have to say, I think Vulture is off the mark with their insistence that Tom Cruise “isn’t that funny” in Ben Stiller’s upcoming “Tropic Thunder.” I was holding my side in laughter for much of the extended cameo, less due to Cruise’s efforts than what the script called for, admittedly, but it’s real yuk-yuk value.

Earlier this month I wrote:

Cruise’s first moments on screen — a video conference call sequence — leads one to believe he’ll be reaching throughout the performance, trying too hard to connect the dots of Stiller’s absurdist comedy. But somewhere along the line, it becomes clear that Stiller knows how to best capture the performance: taking it over the top isn’t nearly enough. You have to keep doing it over and over until it’s funny again, and that is where the director’s choice to linger on Cruise’s antics provides a showcase that demands side-splitting laughter.

And bravo to Cruise for going there. It’s probably the smartest thing he could do at this dicey time in his career. And when he slowly dictates his opinion of action star Tugg Speedman’s career, it’s difficult to imagine he wasn’t thinking of himself in some small part.

I still feel pretty good about that.

Meanwhile, that New York Times story is really irritating for some reason.  Sure, Stiller’s stint starring as a mentally disabled stable boy is played up for comedic value in the film, but it’s dead on in its clearly hyperbolic joshing of actors who “go there” to get awards.  Bravo to the studio for sticking to its guns on this one.  You can’t please everyone, nor should you strive to do so.

Anyway, I’ll be looking forward to everyone else’s thoughts when the film lands next weekend.

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2 responses so far

  • 1 8-11-2008 at 9:54 am

    John Foote said...

    I think it is way, WAY past time people got off Tom Cruise about his acting ability. In the right role, with the right director and screenplay, Cruise can be terrific. Jesus, his performances in “Rain Man,” “Born on the Fourth of July,” “Jerry Maguire,” “Magnolia,” “Minority Report,” “The Last Samurai” and “Tropic Thunder” represent an exceptional body of work. I was of the mind he should have been nominated right alongside Dustin Hoffman for “Rain Man” and should have won the Oscars for “Jerry Maguire” and “Magnolia”. Is he a tad flaky off screen? Perhaps, but when I met him he was just fine. Leave the man alone…he is obviously very talented and consistently challenges himself.

  • 2 8-11-2008 at 3:17 pm

    Joel said...

    Very true, John. He’s one of our finest actors (yes, I said it). Heck, even his work in “Mission: Impossible III” is worth noting. Then again, I really liked that movie…

    I’ve never liked Vulture. Taste thing for me. But yes, Kris, it seems that they’re looking for something to criticize since nearly everyone else (even some who didn’t like the movie) liked Cruise.

    I’ll be reviewing it Wednesday night/Thursday morning on my blog (my name is the link, of course). So check it out there.