“Who’s up for a new Mission: Impossible movie? No one? Well, fuck you and your family, ‘cuz we’re gonna stuff it down your gullets anyway!”

That’s the message 1,203,583-year-old Sumner Redstone sent to moviegoers this morning when he gave the all-clear sign for Tom Cruise to return to Paramount to wring the last yellowy drops of profitability from the wadded-up Mission: Impossible franchise. I don’t quite see how aligning yourself with an on-the-ropes, nutzoid movie star is supposed to boost your rapidly plummeting stock price, but there is the distinct possibility that Redstone might know a little more about running a multimedia conglomerate than I do.

There’s also the worldwide box office of the last film: $398 million. Granted, that’s a touch off the $548 million pace set by Mission: Impossible 2 (a movie almost no one liked), and, ignominiously, the first installment (which racked up $456 million back in 1996, when movies cost a quarter and dogs were the primary mode of transportation), but Paramount evidently believes there’s a few nickels clanging around in this piggy bank. And they’re prepared to make nice with the most Thetan-free man in America just so they can pocket that spare change.

As ever, the challenge will be finding a hot young director equipped with the temperament to nod and smile at Cruise’s every whim. J.J. Abrams, with his perfunctory point-and-shoot aesthetic, was a perfect fit for the last film; if all they want is a quick cash-in this time out, McG has to be their guy (though here’s my humble vote for Dwight H. Little).

It’s presumed that Cruise will need a hit after Valkyrie (which bounced around the ’08 release schedule before landing in the non-prestige zone of February ’09), but who knows? The kids could be all jacked up to spend their President’s Day weekend watching a bunch of British-sounding Germans get executed for failing to blow up Adolph Hitler. If they turn out in droves, I’m out to studios the following Monday with The 428 Botched Attempts on the Life of Pol Pot by the Poorly Organized and Insufficiently Funded Enemies of the Khmer Rouge.