Ascetic Recluse Anthony Lane Had No Idea Tom Cruise Is in ‘Tropic Thunder’

Photo: Photo-illustration: Paramount/Getty Images

"Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few weeks," writes Salon's Stephanie Zacharek, "you probably know by now that Tom Cruise shows up in Tropic Thunder." Indeed, few critics have worried at all about spoiling Cruise's secret-but-not-secret-at-all cameo as studio head Les Grossman, precisely because anyone who reads anything about Hollywood and the movies had already heard, considered, formed an opinion on, and dismissed the news weeks ago. Gentlemanly Roger Ebert, though, does not divulge Cruise's name. And The New Yorker's Anthony Lane keeps Cruise's identity a secret — and, weirdly, admits that he has been living under a rock:


It took me half the running time to realize who was playing [Grossman], and it was only his voice that triggered the recognition; I suspect that there will be gasps during the end credits, as people see his name and find themselves rethinking the whole movie.

Really, Anthony Lane? You're a film critic, yet you had no idea that Tom Cruise filmed this much-hyped cameo, the role that everyone has been saying for months will provoke wild hilarity and save his career? It's not as though the news has been restrained to online hacks like us. The Times did a whole article about this role … in April!

We're not saying that critics need a constantly updating RSS feed of movie blogs — it's admirable when a critic can view a movie independent of gossip and studio hype and just deliver his own honest opinion. But Lane's innocence on this issue is a little bit bizarre and makes the critic seem … well, out of touch. What does he do when he's not watching movies — does he just read Wodehouse all day long? Is he not at all interested in the economic and cultural forces that make movies what they are? Lane apparently lives in London and visits New York infrequently; should a film critic for such an important magazine be a little more in touch with the culture he's reviewing for?

Lane's reluctance about spoilers, by the way, does not extend so far that he won't spoil the exact circumstances of the death of a major character in the movie, though, so heads up!

Vanity Cases [NYer]

Earlier: (Some of) The Critics Love Tom Cruise in ‘Tropic Thunder’
Tom Cruise’s ‘Tropic Thunder’ Cameo Is Not Actually All That Funny