With his recent stint on Oprah, dining dates with Viacom honcho, Sumner Redstone, and talk of another Mission: Impossible movie on the way, Tom Cruise may be on the road to recovery. I'm okay with this. I find myself in the strange position of liking Cruise. I don't care about his couch antics or his religious beliefs. I like the guy's movies and I tend to like him in those movies.
Look, I grew up with Maverick. When he "killed" Goose, Mav went into the dumps. Nothing mattered to him. His flying was shaky; he lost his nerve. He blew off the sexy-in-a-baseball-cap Kelly McGillis. Not even playing with the boys in the hot summer sun, lathered in suntan lotion, could cheer him up. This is kind of where Cruise has been in the past two years in terms of his career. He hasn't been focused (see: Lions for Lambs, and possibly, Valkyrie). But maybe, just maybe, he's turning a corner.
The new Mission: Impossible movie is good news. His comedic cameo in Tropic Thunder is good news. His ability to not come off as a raving madman on Oprah is good news. But the best news is probably his rumored involvement in Hardy Men, a comedy that he would costar in with Ben Stiller (Cruise is also rumored to star in director Todd Phillips's comedy, Men).
The catch, of course, is he needs to be funny which is never the easiest of tasks. But enough directors have had success with Cruise in comedic moments. I don't know how broad a comedy Hardy Men will be, but one thing I do know is Cruise's success in comedy (and in a lot of his roles in general) comes when he plays cocky bastards.
And something about the pairing of Ben Stiller and Cruise works for me. First of all, they've worked together before (back when Stiller was "Tom Crooze"). After reuniting in Tropic Thunder, maybe they have something of a rapport forming.
Comedies are the ultimate cure for the unlikable and likability is exactly Maverick's issue. Iceman didn't like him because he's dangerous. Slider didn't like him because Ice didn't (I think most people are Sliders). Jesper thought he was a talented fool. Me? I always colored myself a Viper. The way I see it the man made his mistakes, but damn it, I'd give him a second chance. And Hardy Men is the type of second chance Cruise needs.
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Dre writes three times a week for Film.com. Email him!