Mixed or average reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 33
  2. Negative: 9 out of 33
  1. 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.
  2. 70
    Crowe's tantalizing film sticks with you.
  3. If Crowe's eyes are open, he seems to have directed most of Vanilla Sky with his mind wide shut.
  4. 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.
  5. 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."
  6. Resembles a fast-and-flashy variation on "The Sixth Sense," with touches of "The Matrix" as a bonus.
  7. Highly entertaining, erotic science-fiction thriller that takes Mr. Crowe into Steven Spielberg territory.
  8. Its tone is unquenchably pretentious, and its scale is overblown.
  9. 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.
  10. Visually dazzling but ultimately dizzying ride, a trippy suspenser that gets tripped up on its own deja vu voodoo.
  11. 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.
  12. 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?
  13. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    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.
  14. 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.
  15. It reeks of unearned profundity, but I found it entertaining.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    The picture has vitality, a fine cast and excellent craft
  19. The title doesn't hint at the unsavory mess the film actually is.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 50
    Like an over-packed three-scoop cone -- it melts into a mess while we're still slurping away.
  23. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    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.
  24. 50
    Crowe, for his part, is decency itself, but unlike Amenábar he's a pop romantic with no stomach or aptitude for noir.
  25. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    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.
  26. Overblown and idiotic, this new "erotic thriller" is neither erotic nor thrilling; it's long, boring and self-indulgent.
  27. 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.
  28. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    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.
  29. Has moments that are eerily beautiful and genuinely moving -- and some that are surprisingly vulgar.
  30. The film's aim -- to dazzle and inspire -- is sapped by Cruise's vein-popping, running-the-marathon performance.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.
  33. Reviewed by: Gareth Von Kallenbach
    My suggestion is to avoid this film and instead rent Open Your Eyes (Abre Los Ojos) the film upon which Vanilla Sky was based.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 181 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 76 out of 99
  2. Negative: 18 out of 99
  1. Aug 8, 2011
    I disagree with many 'reviewers' and feel that this version is a much more polished movie than the original spanish movie. The soundtrack isI 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. Sep 18, 2014
    For a movie that is 13 years old now and is buried in the past, this is truly a great movie for those that like this kind of film. It reallyFor a movie that is 13 years old now and is buried in the past, this is truly a great movie for those that like this kind of film. It really isn't meant for everyone and I can understand where the displeasure from critics and users alike. However, if you like science fiction thrillers, romance thrillers or mind-bending movies, this movie is for you. It's similar to the likes of Jacobs Ladder to put it in perspective. I'd at least say watch it through once and see what you think. Personally, I think critics were too harsh on this film and that follow the users score more since the users seem to actually understand this film more. I loved this movie and I hope if you watch it that you will too! Full Review »
  3. Dec 4, 2013
    Vanilla Sky is, fundamentally, a movie about lucid dreaming. And there is something about it that only lucid dreamers will recognize. Sadly,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 »