Sunday, 18 July 2010

Charm Vacuum!

The upcoming Knight and Day appears to be an experiment in audience resilience. You've suffered through films with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz in the singular, but what if they teamed up (again)? Both are former safe-hand stars looking anywhere for a hit; maybe studio execs felt it best to pool their fixed, gleaming grimaces? Could you handle that corporately mandated mash-up? They certainly have teeth in common. Being cast against Diaz does appear to be a stab at growth for Cruise. Never one to risk being upstaged, women in Cruise films tend to be pedestalled artifacts, attractive but breathlessly submissive. With Cruise big screen appeal mired in cranky religious outbursts and a life imitating art relationship with Katie Holmes, perhaps it was felt that the best way to get the girls back onside, and their bums back on seats, was setting Cruise against someone they might actually want to be? Cue Diaz sass-attack!

No doubt awful, this trail for Knight and Day does hit on something entertaining that can be done with old man Cruise. Having shot Diaz's schlubby ex, Cruise legs it over to comfort the bleeder with a dazzling glimpse of chompers, and assurances that he was aiming non-lethal. This go-see gag is actually a neat encapsulation of the star's recent struggles with audience perception. Off leash and preaching Scientology screed, Cruise has a tendency to drop clangers all over the place. If he's not damning psychiatry as Nazi magic, he's pillorying depressed mothers for seeking prescription medication. An example of the latter, publicly criticising Brooke Shields for using paroxetine, was swiftly followed up with a grovelling personal apology. Disaster Year would watch a movie of that! Cruise struggling with his need to spread his personal message, whilst juggling a deep seated desire to maintain good will with the little people. Imagine it! Cruise unleashed on the world, rambling about and colliding with the public, offending them with his opinions, then flashing them a smile and cuing up a relentless, earnest series of sorrys. All you need to keep people interested is an up on the stakes each time. Start strong with Cruise inadvertently ticking off a bellhop for humping his own bag; at the mid-point Cruise could upset Japan by taking a trip to China that unfortunately coincides with the former's Tom Cruise Day (either October 6th or 1oth depending on who you listen to); for the finish just have him 'accidentally' wipe out an alien civilisation or two. Sorry!

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