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One thing I like about Tom Cruise

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In all fairness, Tom Cruise really isn’t the greatest actor around. Hardly anyone would claim that he is. He’s reasonably competent, but he’s not going to make anyone forget Sidney Poitier or Sir Anthony Hopkins.

One big thing in defense of Tom Cruise, though: quality control. He does far better than average in picking his projects. More important really than any fancy personal performance, you can pretty well count on his name meaning that the whole movie will be worth seeing. Rain Man would make a good example of this.

He rarely makes a pure suckfest of a movie. Granted, he sometimes runs a bit to the safe side (The Firm, say), but even the safer movies are generally decently written and thought through. He DOES put out consistently professional quality product. You can generally feel safe in investing time or money in a Cruise movie, confident that it will be worth the bother of watching.

To pick a contemporary of approximately equal professional stature, compare Cruise’s career to Robin Williams. Williams probably has nearly equal stature to Cruise in getting his pick of material, but a BIG percentage of Robin Williams movies just plain goddam suck. By rights, Williams is a better actor, and a far more unique talent. Damn, man, look at One Hour Photo. That’s some good work.

Yet- for whatever reasons- Williams picks out a LOT of crappy movies to attach his name and reputation to. For every one challenging classic One Hour Photo, the poor beleaguered consumer gets to buy several maudlin Patch Adams love-me crapfests. A double fistful of clunkers like that, and your brand name starts getting diluted.

He may not be the most accomplished actor ever, but the consistent quality of Cruise’s work is critical to his high commercial status. Not even his devotion to the Mindfu-, Mindheads…I mean Scientology will cause him to make a Battlefield Earth.

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  • Agreed. Even things that appeared rather strange (Vanilla Sky) turned out pretty decent. I feel his performances has drastically improved over the years (he was robbed of an Oscar for Magnolia – no offense to Michael Caine, but it didn’t seem that demanding of a performance to sniff ether).

  • Eric Olsen

    Excellent point Al – while I have my reservations about Cruise on various levels, he has had very fine taste over a long career, and that counts for a lot.

  • Dew

    Sorry this new Samuri movie that he has coming out is just plain unexceptable

  • Cap Qwert

    I mostly agree, but to I do think he had one brilliant performance. Rainman. It’s a crime, Hoffman got the Oscar for his one-note performance, and Cruise did’nt. His portarayal of the selfish brother’s change of heart was subtle and believable.

  • Second the Magnolia comment. To take his “image” and twist it like that, not to mention the Seduce and Destroy scenes are some of the best in the movie.

  • Hmm… Taps, Risky Business, All The Right Moves, Legend, Top Gun, The Color Of Money, Cocktail, Young Guns (!), Rain Man, Born On The Fourth Of July, Days Of Thunder, Far And Away, A Few Good Men, The Firm, Interview With The Vampire, Mission Impossible, Jerry Maguire, Eyes Wide Shut, Magnolia, MI:2, Vanilla Sky and Minority Report. I’ve skipped only three old ones on the list, and I have to admit that it’s an impressive list.

    There are a few on there that I didn’t care for, but at least Tom Mapother delivers one thing: A predictable quality of movie-watching experience.

  • Aaron Snaps

    As a person who works in the movie industry, I can tell you, that Tom Cruise is the most respected actor. You’ve got Spileberg, Scorsese, Stone.. etc (not to mention late Kubrick) calling him one of the greatest actors alive.

    He’s really really really popular and has a huge aura around him. So no matter how much he seeps into the character, we still recognize him on screen.

    But for some of us, if we can forget that, we think he’s one of the best.

    And that’s the deal with me. I do think he’s one of the best.

    Had any other actor made Risky Business, Rain Man (for which he was robbed), Born on the fourth of July, A few good men, Jerry Maguire, Eyes Wide Shut (for which he should have been nominated for), Magnolia (robbed) and Minority Report — they would stand as one of the greatest actors.

    Don’t agree with me, but it is the truth. Try hearing what acting greats like Newman and DeNiro have to say about him.

  • Aaron Snaps

    PS> if anyone’s interested, I have met Mr. Cruise on several occassions. He’s extremely kind and helpful.

  • Jack Carter

    Recently saw Jerry Maguire — my favorite actor all time — Tom Cruise. Such a underrated and versatile actor. Better than Hanks and has more edge than Gibson.

  • Martini

    I think Billy Wilder was so right when he compared Cruise to Cary Grant. He does make it look effortless.

    Oh, to Aaron. My sister met Tom at the MI2 premiere and said he was very kind and started a conversation with a couple of people.

    Wonder where those “Tom Cruise is a jerk” stories come from

  • Cruise showed up once at Barger’s Lakeview Market, the humble country convenience store my father owned out on the highway. He was filming one of the road scenes for Rain Man in Metamora, about eight miles away.

    He showed up with one assistant running around. He managed to land at a moment with no actual Bargers present, alas. The teenage girl running our counter, however, was (needless to say) duly impressed. Clay Hunter, old cracker from the hood, was less impressed, and didn’t find his physical presence that inspiring.

    Mr. Cruise bought a can of Skoal. This struck me as funny, as it obviously doesn’t fit his fancy-pants image. Perhaps it was just a when-in-Rome thing. He was about to drop 50 cents in our pool table when his assistant advised him that they needed to get back to work.

  • Martini

    Cool story Al.

    I think the fact he’s so popular, people think he’s got a huge ego. But from what I have heard from just every person who has met him, he’s really humble and down to earth.

    I guess I figured that too, considering his childhood background.

    Anyway, the sister who met him said that he was actually better looking in real life. She said she was surprised how much the camera enhances his features.

    I read that just about everywhere I saw star encounters.

    He’s top bloke.

  • Cindy Smith

    I’ve been a fan of Cruise ever since he made me shed gallons of tears with Born on the fourth of July.

    He’s a daring actor and I admire him. No doubt, by the time he’s 50 something, he’s gonna be up there with Newman or what not.

  • I’m touched by these nice fan testimonials. Thanks Cindy, Martini, et al.

  • Emily Coopers

    Very great article AL. Bravo!!

    I like Cruise. He’s a fine actor. Especially after Minority Report.

  • Veronica Guerin


  • Jay Mohr

    Tom Cruise= Paul Newman of our generation.

  • Eric Olsen

    Is this THE Jay Mohr?

  • Aaron Snaps

    Eric, do you really think THE Jay Mohr would come on a blog journal? Not even Mikhail gorbachev would.

    He’s just playing around.

  • Eric Olsen

    Sure I do, everyone reads blogs

  • No, not everyone does.

  • G-DAWG

    Tom Cruise is the shit! (in good sense) can’t wait to see him blow your chunks off in The Last Samurai.

  • Last time I check, we are in the year 2003. Why is Tom Cruise staring in “The Last Samuri” instead of a Japanese actor. Maybe the book was written for a white man? I don’t know. Please tell me.

  • Fan, it might come from a concept called “acting.” Often in movies, people just pretend to be police detectives, for example, when in fact they have no real police training at all. It seems crazy, I know, but people in the movies pretend to be all kinds of things that they’re really not. If Keanu Reeves can pretend to be smart and hip in the Matrix, then Cruise can pretend to be Japanese or Martian.

  • He is a good actor, and I particularly liked him in A Few Good Men.

    Daniel Jaffe
    Arizona DUI Defense Lawyer
    Studnicki, Jaffe & Woods, PLLC
    Scottsdale, AZ


  • I didn’t care for Minority Report, however. Too many holes in the plot.


    Daniel Jaffe
    Arizona DUI Defense Lawyer
    Studnicki, Jaffe & Woods, PLLC
    Scottsdale, AZ


  • He was robbed for his role in Magnolia. If that isn’t the real Tom Cruise coming through, then he deserves some serious credit because he was thoroughly convincing as a slimy, sexist prick. I kid not.

  • duane

    Eric, you’re probably right that everyone — at least, those who are online — reads blogs. You’ll notice that even high-powered lawyers, such as Studnicki, Jaffe & Woods (who should work on their comma usage, by the way), take time out of their busy injury-accident-pursuing day to read about Tom Cruise and drop their card.


    Flush, Reedem, & Weep
    Sarcasm Consultants Extraordinaire
    California, USA

  • Mary Jo McClure

    How can I get in touch with Keanu Reeves’ sister, Kim? She visited with our family in Kentucky and I would love to send her a “GET WELL MESSAGE.” She was a friend of my son, Kevin Crum and spent the night with us. Please Help Me!!