Vanilla Sky

By Mark Ramsey | 2001/12/18

There’s so much symbolism in Vanilla Sky the opening line should be “Call me Ishmael.”

So where are the mimes?

Vanilla Sky is based on a foreign movie, “Abre Los Ojos,” Spanish for “American audiences, stay away!”

Here’s a recipe for disaster: Mix a Cruz, a Cruise, and two Camerons, make one the world’s biggest and best looking movie star, and cast him in a role that alternatively covers him in facial Tupperware or hideously disfigures him into a Herman Munster-like Franken-Tom. You don’t need Miss Cleo to foretell this future: An ugly Tom Cruise will make for ugly box-office.


Kiss today goodbye, the sweetness and the sorrow. 2001 will go down in history as the year Hollywood made Tom Cruise ugly, Gwyneth Paltrow fat, Ben Affleck blonde, and Winona Ryder a kleptomaniac (remember, Winona, don’t steal white after Labor Day).

Early on, Tom runs through a stark, terribly empty Times Square. Either this is a dream or it’s Donny and Marie Osmond day at MTV’s TRL Live. I’m betting on the former.

Despite Penelope Cruz’s astounding good looks and a minefield of roles to die for, this gal is to superstardom what scrambled eggs are to a non-stick pan. Some say Vanilla Sky will be the movie that catapults Penelope to the stratosphere. Unfortunately, I predict Penelope will rise only to the Cruz-ing altitude of the groin-sphere, no matter what flavor Baskin-Robbins paints the sky. I’m afraid Penelope couldn’t open a movie if the film can came with a pop-top.

Speaking of a popped-top, this Cruz goes convertible during a silk sheet test-drive with our hero, Tom. How we suffer for our art, Tom.

And high art this is, folks. What else can you say about a movie which bludgeons the comprehension out of its audience, leaving at least one vocal soul – this is for real – begging for the kind of mind-altering substances with which any sky can turn vanilla.

Jason Lee once again excels as the nutty best friend. He and Tom almost die in an accident and it’s Tom’s life that flashes before Jason’s eyes. Says Jason to Tom: “You’re rich and women love you; I’m from Ohio and I’m drunk.” You see, that is why we love celebrities. They’re rich and women love them. We’re from Ohio and we’re drunk.


If Vanilla Sky teaches us anything, it’s that sex with Cameron Diaz has consequences. Then again, so does flying, but if you’re gonna do it, remember: Frequent flyers get the best seats!

During a party, Tom hugs Steven Spielberg who’s evidently playing “Guy Who Looks Precisely Like Steven Spielberg.” That’s the same soiree where revelers party to the music of a 3-D John Coltrane hologram. Help me Obi Wan Legend of Jazz, you’re my only hope!

“Open your eyes,” Penelope begs Tom. As anyone following Penelope’s alleged habit of linking to leading men knows, the eyes are only the beginning of what gets opened when Penelope’s on set.

In Vanilla Sky, the real mixes with the surreal to form the sludgy slur-real which blends into a blur-real. Diaz is Cruz – no, Cruz is Diaz. Kurt Russell is real, no he’s fake – maybe he’s real and his hair is fake. Tom is disfigured, no he’s still looks like a Greek God. Oh it’s goofy, I don’t know.

I worship the keyboard Cameron Crowe clicks on, but Cam, you’ve been doing too much Kubricizing down at Gold’s gym. Aerobically step down to the treadmill with the rest of us. Ever since Say Anything Cameron’s been trying to say something, but this time he’s speaking in tongues – and I don’t mean the one fancied by Penelope Cruz.

In one tell-tale moment, we see Tom’s got a TV at the foot of his bed – it descends into the floor, creating more than a sinking feeling that anything entertaining is sinking with it.

Vanilla Sky is too bland. I’ll wait for chocolate.

Photos Copyright ©2001 Paramount Pictures


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