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Has Tom Cruise Completed Career Rehab?

Giddy applause greeted Tom Cruise's "Tropic Thunder" character Les Grossman at the MTV awards and the announcement that MTV and Cruise were trying to build a whole movie around Grossman, that scabrous, funny, foul-mouthed studio boss. It suggests that Cruise has bounced back from his professional and p.r. low point of five years ago, when he matched his bouncing-on-Oprah's-couch antics with his over-emphatic performance in Spielberg's disappointing remake of "War of the Worlds."

A couple of years back, when I asked a class at a performing-arts high school whether any contemporary movie stars stood for anything, one kid quipped that Cruise stood for "Scientology" -- and the rest of the class laughingly agreed. These days, at least, they're laughing with Cruise, not at him.

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And Cruise has done some good work lately. As a Republican senator in "Lions for Lambs" he was all flashing teeth and cunning; he exuded the hollow yet impermeable confidence of a salesman who always sells himself. He gave a game physical performance in "Valkyrie" -- few actors do better at depicting getting all shot up and mutilated. And, of course, in "Tropic Thunder" he displayed his knack for getting under the skin of egomaniacs like Grossman, who dances like a grotesque bobble toy to the rhythm of his own meanness and power.

No reviews have been posted yet for "Knight and Day," which opens June 25, but Cruise and Cameron Diaz look like they're actually enjoying themselves in the trailer. Are you looking forward to it, and/or to a Les Grossman movie? How do you feel about Cruise as an actor these days?

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