It's been curiously satisfying for me to see Tom Cruise flame out in public lately, mostly 'cos I've never liked his work.
Sure, he's Tinseltown's ultimate Good Employee, the slick glad-hander who goes to work early, stays late, and never fails to cluck on ad nauseum to the press about how hard he works. But ever since I saw Cruise's rodent-toothed mug in 1981's Taps, something about the guy's never quite sat right with me. His disingenuous fratboy grin and his ass-kissy palm-greasing interview behavior always made me want to jab knitting needles into my skull; he always seemed to be concealing something scary, or empty, or both. So his recent psychotic episodes were damned funny, but no surprise to me.
My biggest issue with Cruise isn't his current leap into Lalaland. It's his gallery of studied but patently soulless performances that makes me wanna jab knitting needles into his skull--hard--if only to see if he'd react with something besides a plastic smile and a remark like, "You know, I trained at knitting-needle skull-jabbing for eight weeks to prepare for the lead in Cocktail. Man, was it hard work!"
I'm not gonna bother analyzing Tom Cruise's recent antics, except to say that: He's a religious fanatic (duh), he's going through a big mid-life crisis (double duh), and his courtship of Katie Holmes has the uneasy scent of a wealthy feudal lord choosing a decorative and submissive pet (see also previous double duh). There are others on the web and in the media doing a much more engaging job of putting Cruise the Alien-Worshipping Middle-Age-Crazy Freak under a microscope than I could. I just wanna bellyache about his movies, and his acting in them.
Despite the fact that he has yet to give a performance that's registered positively with me, I've seen a lot of the man's movies. In my defense, the last one I actually paid for was Legend in 1985. Every one I've seen since was on someone else's dime (or free) to prove to some deluded friend (or my equally deluded self) that I was open-minded enough to give the star another chance. So, no, I'm not gonna go see War of the Worlds (opening today at a theater near you!) until it plays on cable, or until it screens as an in-flight movie when I'm on a plane and terminal boredom induces me to watch it, or gnaw a limb off with boredom.
What I will do, though, is give my lovely readers (thanks again to both of you!) my personal Petri Dish 101 on the films of Tom Cruise (at least the ones I've seen). It will be very snarky. I will try to make it brief. And it's gonna have to wait, because it's late and I want to go to sleep. Good night.