Vanilla Sky

  • Review Date: May 20, 2003
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2001

Common Sense Media says

Some surface appeal, but ultimately vacant.
  • Review Date: May 20, 2003
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2001





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Character uses women.


Characters killed, tense scenes of peril.


Very explicit sexual situations and references.


Very strong language.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters drink, get drunk.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie has very strong language and explicit sexual situations and references. One character smothers another, and a different character kills herself and is unsuccessful at killing her lover. The facial disfigurement is graphically portrayed and may be very upsetting to some viewers.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

VANILLA SKY is a trippy mind game movie about a rich, successful, handsome, but superficial man named David (Tom Cruise), whose life turns upside down when he meets a woman who stirs him (because she is "guileless"). But then he must pay the price for his casual negligence. A woman becomes jealous, and drives them both off an embankment. She is killed, and he is badly hurt and disfigured. The life he took for granted is shattered. At this point, a fairly conventional narrative is shattered, like David's arm and his face. It becomes impossible to say much more about it without spoiling the surprises. David tries to piece together his story and we do the same, though sometimes based on conflicting information.

Is it any good?


Vanilla Sky has a lot of surface appeal, but at its core it is as vacant as the story's main character. It tries to be a sort of Sixth Sense with sex. Like Cast Away, this is something of a vanity production. I suspect that Tom Hanks created the ultimate acting exercise for himself, based on what he feared most – being separated from his family. Cruise, who also produced this movie by purchasing the rights to the original, Spanish-language version, has done the same here. He may have chosen what he fears most – losing his looks and easy grace, losing his knack for owning the room. And, like Hanks, he selected a story that provides the opportunity for tour-de-force acting. In many scenes, Cruise's famous face is covered with a latex mask, leaving him only his body and his eyes to convey all of the character's emotions.

Cruise works hard and makes some arresting choices. Cameron Diaz turns in a terrific performance and Tilda Swinton is excellent in a brief role as an executive. But Kurt Russell seems a little lost as a therapist, and Penelope Cruz, repeating her role from the original, says her lines as though she is not really fluent in English yet.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why David feels unsatisfied at the beginning of the movie, and whether he should have made a pass at the woman his best friend brought to a party. How much of the world around us do we control? How much would you like to control? If given the choice presented to David at the end of the movie, what would you choose?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 14, 2001
DVD release date:May 21, 2002
Cast:Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz, Tom Cruise
Director:Cameron Crowe
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Run time:136 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:sexuality and strong language

This review of Vanilla Sky was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byjumpinbini April 9, 2008

I thought that this was one of the most horrible movies that I've ever seen. Not only is it confusing, it is way too long and I got really bored in it. Basically the main character (Cruise) gets in a car wreck where his face is disfigured, and he doesn't remember anything, and the movie flashes back and forth with his face disfigured, and not disfigured, and then he is in jail and then he's not in they try to figure out if he went back and killed one of his lovers, and the movie ends with the viewer not having any idea what kind of regurgitated editting they just witnessed.

Adult Written byForknose April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

So Bad

Boring, hard to follow, and way too long for what it is.

Adult Written byRachel D April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age


I can't believe this movie was such a hit! Again, another story which leaves you depressed, empty and disgusted. Nothing of value.


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