Metascore
45

Mixed or average reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 33
  2. Negative: 9 out of 33
  1. A mostly fascinating, often frustrating, boldly uncommercial Hollywood version of a boldly uncommercial art film. It's very atypical of the previous work of both director and star, and it's as personal a film, I suspect, as Cruise will ever make.
  2. Highly entertaining, erotic science-fiction thriller that takes Mr. Crowe into Steven Spielberg territory.
  3. 78
    It's a film that you can take home and chew over later, both abrasive in its loudness and reflective in its fleeting, feminine moments of silence. Well done.
  4. 75
    This is the kind of movie you don't want to analyze until you've seen it two times. Now that I've seen it twice, I think I understand it, or maybe not. Certainly it's entertaining as it rolls along.
  5. 75
    An involving, sweetly touching love story, buoyed by Crowe's natural, poetic dialogue and his knack for writing characters (especially women) who feel like real people instead of plot devices.
  6. 70
    Crowe's tantalizing film sticks with you.
  7. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    70
    The picture has vitality, a fine cast and excellent craft
  8. 63
    Crowe's chilliest movie. In part this is by design. Like "Open Your Eyes," to which Crowe is mostly faithful, Vanilla Sky is a head trip that merges thriller, romance and science-fiction elements while playing with our notions of dreams and reality.
  9. Has moments that are eerily beautiful and genuinely moving -- and some that are surprisingly vulgar.
  10. Visually dazzling but ultimately dizzying ride, a trippy suspenser that gets tripped up on its own deja vu voodoo.
  11. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    63
    What works in a quirky foreign film can look silly with expansive Hollywood treatment. Crowe is smart enough to know this, so it's baffling he chose Vanilla over richer cinematic tastes.
  12. I admire Cameron Crowe for daring to write and direct a movie as strange as Vanilla Sky. I lament the casting of Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz in the leads.
  13. It reeks of unearned profundity, but I found it entertaining.
  14. 58
    Lost in this beguiling labyrinth, Vanilla Sky is more fascinating as a bit of evidence than as a movie -- and ultimately less pleasing than most audiences will want.
  15. Resembles a fast-and-flashy variation on "The Sixth Sense," with touches of "The Matrix" as a bonus.
  16. The film's aim -- to dazzle and inspire -- is sapped by Cruise's vein-popping, running-the-marathon performance.
  17. 50
    Like an over-packed three-scoop cone -- it melts into a mess while we're still slurping away.
  18. 50
    Crowe, for his part, is decency itself, but unlike Amenábar he's a pop romantic with no stomach or aptitude for noir.
  19. For better or worse, Vanilla Sky is a genuine, albeit jejune, statement of star consciousness -- blustery with self-awe and feverish with cataclysmic self-doubt.
  20. Though Vanilla Sky is smoothly and professionally done, even audiences who haven't seen the original will sense there is something off in the translation.
  21. 40
    Crowe preserves the original film's plot twists and turns, but his version lumbers when it should be whipping along, daring you to keep up. The wall-to-wall pop music soundtrack eventually becomes oppressive, and Cruise's oily smile doesn't really constitute a characterization.
  22. Reviewed by: Gareth Von Kallenbach
    40
    My suggestion is to avoid this film and instead rent Open Your Eyes (Abre Los Ojos) the film upon which Vanilla Sky was based.
  23. For all the filmmakers' efforts, this project is something of an artistic albatross. It's a conundrum that doesn't get answered until a sort of help-the-audience Cliffs Notes final scene, in which we learn Everything. But by then, more than a few of us may be wondering, was it all really worth the trouble?
  24. Crowe renders David's dream (and its accompanying nightmare) so literal we can't help but leave the theater feeling as though we've been lectured to, told how to feel and what to think. And for an audience, that's a bit of a nightmare.
  25. The title doesn't hint at the unsavory mess the film actually is.
  26. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    38
    May not emerge as the biggest disaster of the holiday movie season, if only because we haven't yet seen all the other year-end films. But it is a huge high-energy misfire, bringing Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz, and Cameron Crowe to earth with a thud.
  27. If Crowe's eyes are open, he seems to have directed most of Vanilla Sky with his mind wide shut.
  28. Probably the most garishly masochistic star turn since Mel Gibson's "The Man Without a Face." It could also be the most baroque chick flick ever made, the freakazoid spawn of "An Affair to Remember" and "The Matrix."
  29. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    30
    It's no wonder that Crowe can't generate any real feeling. The narrative is alien to him on every level. The ear-grating dialogue is a good indication that he didn't know what he was doing; he's usually pitch-perfect.
  30. Its tone is unquenchably pretentious, and its scale is overblown.
  31. 20
    Who would have thought that Cameron Crowe had a movie as bad as Vanilla Sky in him? It's a punishing picture, a betrayal of everything that Crowe has proved he knows how to do right.
  32. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    20
    Every ambitious picturemaker should be allowed one wild misfire at no lasting cost to his reputation. Crowe (Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous) can now put this aside and go back to making good films.
  33. Overblown and idiotic, this new "erotic thriller" is neither erotic nor thrilling; it's long, boring and self-indulgent.
User Score
7.2

Generally favorable reviews- based on 170 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 75 out of 98
  2. Negative: 18 out of 98
  1. Aug 8, 2011
    10
    I disagree with many 'reviewers' and feel that this version is a much more polished movie than the original spanish movie. The soundtrack is amazing and the suspense is real. An amazing achievement by Crowe. Full Review »
  2. Dec 4, 2013
    6
    Vanilla Sky is, fundamentally, a movie about lucid dreaming. And there is something about it that only lucid dreamers will recognize. Sadly, it's a bit downhill from there. While Vanilla Sky is a solid effort, it's unfortunately short of genius. The very project is a bit curious. Is Cameron Crowe, the permanent teenager responsible for perfectly good yet light-as-a-feather comedies like Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous, up to the challenge of remaking a Spanish psychodrama? Crowe goes through the motions, and from time to time he proves that he can handle heavier material, but Vanilla Sky is too murky to be much more than a holiday distraction far from the cult classic that the original Abre los Ojos (Open Your Eyes) has become. However... Cameron Crowe's DVD commentary track is one of the best I've heard. While he's overly proud of the middling achievement, he's honest about the tepid reaction from test audiences, and he does provide a little extra context for the various interpretations of the movie. (Also of note, this is the first commentary I've heard with a musical score: someone (Crowe's wife, Nancy Wilson) playing acoustic guitar. Crowe also phones up his stars during the recording... bizarre.) Unfortunately, none of this can make Penélope Cruz a good actress. An interview with songwriter Paul McCartney, two featurettes, and assorted trailers round out the disc. Vanilla Sky has moments of brilliance and bears a certain style, but the movie is neither simple enough for sheer popcorn-thriller fun nor complex enough for true psychodrama buffs. It lies somewhere in a middle ground, and anyone that tells you different... needs to open his eyes. Full Review »
  3. Sep 23, 2013
    7
    There is some psychological pressure along the movie, but the story do not seem natural and honestly it is a bit boring in the middle and the ending from my point of view is the thing called deus ex machina, it does not look logical. Overall a decent movie. Full Review »