By Adam B. Vary
Updated April 22, 2009 at 12:00 PM EDT

As and Variety have been reporting, Tom Cruise’s cup overfloweth something fierce of late. With as many as seven possible movies in the hopper, he recently had to drop two high-profile projects — a rom-com called Lost for Words and a drama called The 28th Amendment. But that still leaves at least five to choose from, and since we here at PopWatch Central consider ourselves a full-service entertainment blog, we figured we’d offer a little unsolicited advice to help Mr. Cruise make up his rakishly handsome noggin.

THE PITCH A group of terrorists attack the President’s motorcade in Los Angeles. Len Wiseman (Live Free or Die Hard, Underworld) is attached to direct.
PRO It’s officially cool to want to root for the President again, which may be why this movie’sthe ostensible front-runner in the What’s Tom Cruise’s Next Project? derby — which counts for something, right?
CON It’s also the project with the most questions-marks around it: Who would Cruise play? The President? The secret service agent? The head of the terrorists? The Secretary of the Interior? Could this movie possibly top the best Presidential assassin thriller of all time, 1993’s In the Line of Fire? And haven’t they already done this on 24? Like, a gajillion times?
VERDICT Leave the Presidential heroics to Jack Bauer.


The Tourist
THE PITCHAn Interpol agent (Charlize Theron) ropes in an American tourist to help find a bad guy with whom she once got all horizontal-like. Bharat Nalluri (The Crow: Salvation, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day) would direct.
PRO It isn’t quite clear whether Cruise would play the mysterious bad-guy or the tourist, but let’s go with the latter. For one, it’s the title character, and for another, it’s a far more imaginative casting choice for Cruise, who’d get his first chance to be in a spy-spiced action flick as the bumbling, confused innocent.
CON Then again, Cruise doesn’t really do “bumbling.”
VERDICT Give it a greenlight, but only if Cruise gets to wear a fanny-pack and socks-and-sandals.

The Matarese Circle
THE PITCHTwo rival secret agents — one Russian (Cruise), one American (Denzel Washington) — must team up to hunt an assassin cabal called the Matarese. David Cronenberg (A History of Violence, Eastern Promises) would possibly direct.
PRO Between Cronenberg, its exotic title, Cold War throwback plot, and double-Oscar-winning, will-watch-him-in-pretty-much-anything costar, this is easily the most intriguing flick on Cruise’s docket.
CON Does this mean international accents?
VERDICT An immediate greenlight, with a hefty budget line for a least three dialect coaches.

James Mangold (Walk the Line) would helm this story of a woman congenitally unlucky in love (Cameron Diaz), who meets a mysterious man (Cruise) who turns out to be…wait for it…a carnival barker! Er, sorry, I meant…a secret agent!
PRO We haven’t seen Cruise in a true romantic comedy since 1996’s Jerry Maguire, which remains probably his best leading-man performance to date.
CON Another secret agent flick? Really?
VERDICT If the derring-do is meant purely for laughs, all systems go. If it isn’t, then why not let Cruise lookalike Chris Evans have a shot at it?

The Hardy Men
THE PITCH The Hardy brothers from the famous book series are all growns up, look like Ben Stiller and Tom Cruise, and are still up to their ole crime-fightin’ tricks. Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum) is attached to direct.
PRO Stiller proved with Tropic Thunder that he knows how to help Cruise bring the serious funny.
CONCruise has been circling this project for more than two years. Either that proves his dedication to it, or that the script still ain’t up to snuff.
VERDICT While I’d love to see these two embrace their inner-knuckleheads, somehow the idea of Cruise and Stiller, both in their 40s, waiting to make this until they hit the big 5-0 strikes me as an even funnier idea.

Okay, PopWatchers, you have my take on which flicks Tom Cruise should tackle next — and which ones he should sit on. What’s yours?