Vanilla Sky: Neal Preston
May 24, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT

Tom Cruise, a man who has everything, plays David Aames, a magazine publisher who has everything. Cameron Crowe, a director who’s shown us that he can do anything (well, almost anyway), takes an unfortunate detour into Vanilla Sky, a twisty, ponderous, stupendously stupid parable in which Mr. Terrific loses…nothing of consequence.

To be certain, the cloudy ”Vanilla Sky” unspools as if it’s got a higher purpose. We’re meant to find truth in Aames’ journey, from beautiful-shallow rich boy, to disfigured (at the hands of wacko-cutie Cameron Diaz) rich boy, to beautiful-enlightened rich boy who learns to open his eyes thanks to the redemptive love of Penélope Cruz (she also starred in the infinitely better Spanish original, 1997’s ”Abre Los Ojos”). The truth is that the wanna-be-big ideas Crowe throws into his pop-soundtrack blender were better executed in both ”The Matrix” and ”Total Recall,” and that’s saying something. As for the small ideas, well, they’re small. Still, that whole deserted Times Square scene is pretty cool.

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