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Monday, September 25, 2023

The release of "Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography" is a timely one, coinciding with recently leaked video clips of the star's intense (read: insane) 2006 IAS Freedom Medal of Valor acceptance speech.

Author Andrew Morton's narrative, though for the most part irritatingly unbiased, does a fair job of reaffirming how far gone Cruise truly is.

Morton, the British journalist who also penned the No. 1 New York Times best-selling biographies of Princess Diana and Monica Lewinsky, once again delivers a thorough and surprisingly intriguing glimpse into the life of a celebrity.

Why anyone would want to read the 323-page tome about this particular celebrity, however, is rather beyond me.

Yes, Cruise is a Hollywood icon, with three Oscar nods, three Golden Globes and a wealth of movie-inspired catchphrases to back him up. Lately, however, the hype surrounding Cruise has not been in regards to his talent, but to his fanatical devotion to Scientology and purported brainwashing of "Dawson's Creek" sweetheart Katie Holmes.

As alien as he may seem now, Cruise did have a childhood and a tough one at that. Morton spends much of the first half of the book describing Cruise's upbringing of being the only male among four sisters and being frequently bullied because of his small stature and academic and financial hardships.

It becomes hard to feel sorry for him, though, when Morton recounts the time Cruise tried to pick a fight with a group of boys who referred to his 'do as a "hair cut" rather than a "hair style."

The author is also quick to point out that Cruise was a womanizer even as a youngster, charming ladies on the playground with his trademark grin.

As he grew older, his wily ways landed him many a girlfriend and made him a husband three times, even though his repeated wooing patterns seem to reflect the modus operandi of well-known serial killers.

Morton's account of Cruise's business savvy and commitment to his roles is actually fascinating at points, illustrating what a natural talent and drive the actor possesses.

The rest of the book reads like a creepy sci-fi novel as Cruise's life eventually becomes an extraterrestrial soap opera. Morton details his dysfunctional, religiously charged relationships with halfhearted wit. Moreover, any attention he gives to the highly controversial allegations that Cruise is homosexual is fleeting.

By the time Tom settles down with Katie, all you can do is pray that little Suri won't someday wind up as the offering in some bizarre religious sacrifice.

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(As crazy an idea as that may seem, let us not forget that Cruise did indeed at one point claim he was going to eat his baby's placenta.)

The biography is certainly a testament to Morton's investigative and literary prowess, but the subject of his study is less than enthralling.

Had Morton taken a few more obvious jabs at Cruise, the book may have had enough edge to absorb average readers, not just die-hard fans.

As it is, it just inspires more browsing of YouTube for the "Trapped in the Closet" episode of "South Park."

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