Lately Tom Cruise has been back on the media spotlight ... in a good way. His recent appearance on the MTV Movie Awards as his 'Tropic Thunder' alter-ego -- the balding, foul-mouthed, hip-hopping producer Les Grossman -- pretty much stole the show. It was a reminder of how very entertaining Cruise can be, and, by all reports, is again in the action-comedy 'Knight and Day.'
So maybe it's a good time to look back at a movie from very early in his career, 1981's 'Taps.' This well-received if relatively unsung drama featured Cruise in his first major movie role (he'd previously appeared briefly in 'Endless Love') as well as Sean Penn in his first-ever film appearance. Unlike many '80s teen-themed movies, 'Taps' today doesn't seem terribly dated, owing in large part to its unusual subject matter. Based on the Devery Freeman novel 'Father Sky,' it's a serious meditation on honor, loyalty and literally sticking to one's guns in the face of overwhelming odds. As such, it definitely merits a second look.