Even with Razzies, Tom Cruise trounced by Adam Sandler
The Tom Cruise comeback vehicle "Knight and Day" stalled at the box office this weekend earning just $20.5 million despite generally decent reviews. Audiences proved to be relatively indifferent to Cruise and his costar Cameron Diaz, another one-time draw desperately in need of a hit. Instead, they went flocking to the critically reviled "Grown Ups" -- the latest comedy from Adam Sandler -- which took in exactly twice as much as "Knight and Day." The combination of boffo box office and boos from the critics for "Grown Ups" proved irresistible to those rascals at the Razzie Awards, who are already touting its potential.
Even pairing up with Diaz -- a two-time worst actress nominee -- cannot get Cruise any love from the Razzies. However, he does have a pair of these trophies already. In 1994, Cruise and his "Interview With a Vampire" costar Brad Pitt tied for worst couple with Sylvester Stallone and Sharon Stone ("The Specialist"). And in 2005, Cruise and his intended Katie Holmes captured the tabloid target prize. Alas, he went down to defeat in both of his worst actor races at the Razzies, losing in 1988 for "Cocktail" to Stallone (Rambo III") and in 2005 for "War of the Worlds" to Rob Schneider ("Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo"), who features in "Grown Ups."
That Cruise can't even capture the attention of these kudos devoted to celebrating the best of the worst in movie-making says something about his dwindling star power. After all, there were enough scathing notices to drag the Meta Critic score for "Knight and Day" down to a middling 47, including one by Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal who thought, "the source of this movie's energy is near-perpetual desperation." And A.O. Scott of the New York Times did describe the film as "a loud, seemingly interminable, and altogether incoherent entry in the preposterous and proliferating action-comedy genre." But other top-notch critics were more impressed. Claudia Puig of USA Today thought, "It's a quintessential movie hybrid: a romantic thriller with exciting high-speed chases, brisk comedy and exotic scenery." And admitted Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times, "Basically, what I wanted was more of it ... More of the stars. Because movie stars really do make a difference. I insist on it."
Ebert was dismissive of "Grown Ups," calling it "a pleasant, genial, good-hearted, sometimes icky comedy that’s like spending a weekend with well-meaning people you don’t want to see again any time real soon." And that was one of the best reviews. Most were more along the lines of Stephen Holden, who wrote in the New York Times, "It doesn’t get worse than 'Grown Ups,' Adam Sandler’s sloppy entry into this year’s man-child-comedy sweepstakes. Lazy, mean-spirited, incoherent, infantile and, above all, witless." Ouch! Such pans produced a Meta Critic score for "Grown Ups" of just 30, placing it along side "Marmaduke" and below even the box office bomb "Jonah Hex."
While Cruise's track record at the Razzies is embarrassing enough, it seems downright respectable next to Sandler's list of dubious achievements. He has amassed six worst actor bids and won for "Big Daddy" in 1999. Sandler has also racked up two worst screenplay noms as well as a worst couple mention. And, as the Razzie post notes, the pedigree of those associated with "Grown Ups" -- Kevin James, Sandler, Schneider as well as helmer Dennis Dugan -- combine for a "staggering career total of 19 Razzie nominations."
There is speculation that those three thespians -- along with costars Chris Rock and David Spade -- could contend collectively for worst actor. There is precedent for such a joint bid. Five of the leading lovelies from the 2008 version of "The Women" lost the worst actress award to Paris Hilton ("The Hottie & the Nottie"). That ill-conceived remake of the 1939 classic suffered from too few of the words of the original playwright Clare Booth Luce. As that waspish wag once remarked, "There is nothing harder than the softness of indifference." Such is the lesson that Tom Cruise must now learn.
Top photo: "Knight and Day" poster. Credit: Fox.
Bottom photo: "Grown Ups" poster. Credit: Columbia.