By Joshua Rich
February 06, 2007 at 12:00 PM EST

Oh, Tom Cruise, that comedian. He’s made us laugh so many times in recent years. Jumping on couches. Setting up home with the star of First Daughter. Wielding the word “glib” like a battle ax.

Well, it seems, he’s ready to be wacky again — though this time he actually means it: TMZ is reporting today that Cruise may appear alongside Ben Stiller in The Hardy Men, an updated version of the Hardy Boys mysteries, which finds the junior crime solvers all growns up. Funny. Now, get this: While his personal life has devolved into a bit of a punchline in recent years, Cruise has never starred in a bona fide comedy before. (Yes, there was that Austin Powers cameo, and, no, it doesn’t count. Neither do Jerry Maguire and Risky Business.) So this is something of a first.

And, you know what? I applaud it. I’ve been waiting for a big-screen teaming of Cruise and Stiller ever since their hilarious “Tom Crooze” sketch at the 2000 MTV Movie Awards. (“Let’s call it Kickin’ Impossible!” Brilliant.) The action star proved the perfect foil by showing a willingness to make fun of himself. Which is a big reason why a comedy like The Hardy Men sounds like a good idea for a star who’s spent so much time lately being laughed at. You know, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Moreover, maybe muted domestic box office for Mission: Impossible 3 ($134 million) means a bit of a career shift is in order. Still, I wonder: Is this a mission you’re willing to accept?