Thursday, February 17, 2011

Vanilla Sky (2001)

David Aames is a vain and self-centered playboy whose life is changed forever by the beautiful and intelligent Sophia. His new romance is cut short by a scorned lover, who nearly destroys his life and permanently scars him in a horrible car accident. After recovering from a short coma and an ineffective facial reconstruction surgery, David's life is turned upside down when Sophia rejects him based on his new looks, but he awakens one morning to find himself in an ideal world where Sophia falls back in love with him and doctors are able to fix his disfigurement. Things aren't as perfect as they may have seemed, however, as David later describes to a police psychologist after being charged with the murder of Sophia.

VANILLA SKY might only be enjoyed by anyone who has never had the benefit of seeing the original OPEN YOUR EYES by Spanish director Alejandro Amenábar. The choices that were made in both the casting and script revisions in this American remake are simply abysmal. Cameron Crowe lays on a cheap sentimentalism through the film's sappy soundtrack and nostalgic homages to classic cultural influences, but these are only minor distractions compared to the shockingly bad performances by Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, and Jason Lee. It is as if each of these actors mistook the screenplay as a comedy of some sort given their outlandish efforts. Cruise is the film's greatest liability, since his erratic behavior reduces the brilliant character drama into a silly farce. Crowe presumes that his American audience will be far less perceptive than the world viewers that praised the original, so he drops blatant visual clues throughout the film that clearly delineate dreams from reality. In doing so, he eliminates the subtle effectiveness that Amenábar worked so hard to create in his cleverly-designed plot. The beautiful irony in all of this is that the viewer will hope to wake up from the same horrible nightmare that David has found himself in by the end of the movie. Amenábar couldn't have written that better, himself.

Rating: 6/10.

If you liked VANILLA SKY, check out:


  1. Just to say how bad it was, I really hadn't thought of the movie since I watched it when it came out, till now.

  2. I always thought this one was underrated....

  3. I really don't have a personal vendetta against Tom Cruise, but I thought he was just terrible in this role. Andrew, have you seen OPEN YOUR EYES? Structurally, the two are nearly identical, but the performances make a world of difference. It can be found for only a buck on Amazon right now, I highly recommend it!

  4. While I agree that this remake does not quite reach the heights of the original it is actually not a bad effort. I didn't think the performances were so bad as to be shocking. They were just a bit drab and lifeless...but shockingly bad, no. While I dont think this is a fantastic film, I'd much rather watch this than watch a film like I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE.

  5. I thought Cameron Diaz was just laughable during the nightmarish sex scene, and Jason Lee was never able to keep a straight face. Penelope Cruz was the only person that understood the material and put forth a decent performance, but Cruise might as well have been jumping on Oprah's couch considering how manic he was here.

    This version took the audience's stupidity for granted, and put everything on the tip of the nose.

  6. It was a Hollywood remake Carl, that it would take the audience's stupidity for granted is a given. I can't think of many Hollywood films that don't take the stupidity of the audience for granted. I clearly don't find Mr. Cruise as repellent an actor as you do. I should be clear I dont think this is a great film, but as far as Hollywood remakes go its not bad at all. It's certainly far superior to the myriad of awful horror remakes that have emerged in recent years.

  7. I can definitely agree on that point, the majority of Hollywood remakes pale in comparison, but I sure wish they would have gone with an unknown cast in this film. I honestly don't mind Tom Cruise under normal circumstances, and I thought he was fantastic in A FEW GOOD MEN. It just seems to me that everyone save for Cruz tried to bring out a humor in the script that didnt exist. I only wish I could have seen this version before the original, since my judgment could be impaired by the automatic comparisons I was making in my head.


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