The mummy fights back
Six words I never thought I’d say: I feel your pain, Tom Cruise. Not literally, you understand, although I did wince as I watched my favourite actor (circa 1988) slam into the side of a London skyscraper this week.
The Hollywood hunk was doing his own stunts on the set of Mission: Impossible 6 when he missed his mark and mistimed a roof jump. Some minion on the crew subsequently released the footage online where, it’s fair to say, commenters had little sympathy.
It’s hard to feel sorry for Cruise. The man is bonkers. Not just because of his belief in Scientology, or because he once made an idiot of himself jumping up on Oprah’s couch, or because Nicole Kidman and Katie Holmes divorced him, or even because he now has two broken bones in his ankle.
Nonetheless, I do feel sorry for Cruise because it must be as galling as it is painful to realise that, despite your status as a box-office superstar, you’re also a 55-year-old man who can no longer leap over tall buildings in a single bound.
Middle-age: it catches up with us all eventually. For me, motherhood triggered the beginning the end – of my social life, my figure, alcohol-free weeknights and restful sleeping patterns – whereas his latest film The Mummy hasn’t been kind to Cruise.
Its approval rating on rottentomatoes.com sits at 16 per cent, which is about as rotten as a rotten tomato can be. I say this with some authority, having rotted my fair share of tomatoes both unintentionally (forgotten under the blackening bananas in our fruit bowl) and intentionally (because fermenting the gel-like pulp off freshly saved seeds is said to aid germination).
Critics have savaged The Mummy. Sydney reviewer Cameron Williams described it as ‘‘a film that approaches Cruise like it’s 1996’’. C’mon. That’s a bit mean. In 1996, Cruise was showing Cuba Gooding Jnr the money and romancing Renee ‘‘you had me at hello’’ Zellweger in Jerry Maguire .It was International Year for the Eradication of Poverty (not a howling success), Charles and Diana got divorced, scientists cloned Dolly the sheep, and IBM’s Deep Blue computer beat Garry Kasparov for the first time.
I doubt anyone feels particularly nostalgic for 1996 but, if you do, I urge you to join your local gym and step through a protein-fuelled portal to the past.
When I first joined a gym, Suzy Aitken was teaching step aerobics. Not much has changed since then, for gyms are time capsules of testosterone, wall-to-wall lycra, goatee beards and buff people doing burpees.
For the uninitiated, the burpee is to fitness what kale and coconut sugar are to food. Also known as a squad thrust, it’s a particularly sadistic move invented in the 1930s by New York physiologist Royal Huddleston Burpee, and later adopted as a means of punishing recruits in the US military and middle-aged women in Hunua.
In 2014, a 25-year-old from South Carolina set two new world records doing burpees for charity. Cameron Dorn nailed 5,657 burpees in 12 hours and kept going, racking up 10,105 burpees in 24 hours. He has nothing to fear from me. There are many interpretations of Burpee’s original manoeuvre. There are push-up and pull-up burpees; four-, six- and eightcount burpees; and box-jump, broadjump, jump-ups, jump-over, tuckjump and long-jump burpees. Let me tell you, they all hurt.
Mind you, I’ve never met an exercise I liked and it’s not for want of trying. Over the years I’ve joined netball, soccer and volleyball teams. I’ve played tennis and badminton. I’ve swum laps of the pool and bodysurfed at the beach. I’ve waterskiied and walked the dog.
Six other words I never thought I’d say: I have taken up boxing classes.
Who knew? Who knew smacking the crap out of something could feel so freeing? With every girly hook, jab and uppercut to the punching bag, I can feel my stress levels abating. On an adrenaline high after my first class, I phoned a 40-something friend who has recently converted to the cult of CrossFit. ‘‘I think,’’ I told her breathlessly, ‘‘that after 43 years of experimentation, I have finally found an enjoyable form of exercise.’’
Not because I was any good at it (‘‘hit me harder,’’ barked the instructor as I half-heartedly tried to maintain the functioning use of my freelancer’s fingers), but because what I’d expected to be a one-hour class was over in 45 minutes.
It’s not 1996 any more... At 55, Tom Cruise can no longer leap over tall buildings in a single bound.