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laodedweapon1There was a time in my 46 year life that the name National Lampoon meant hilarious comedy. I was first introduced to the name as a small lad while watching National Lampoon’s Animal House.   Boy that was a great movie for an 8 year old.   So many breasts so little, little time, but, I digress.  The National Lampoon name gave us such classics as the above mentioned Animal House, Vacation, and Christmas Vacation.  Now that seems like a 100 years ago because over the last 20+ years the name is associated with garbage.  I saw the beginning of the demise of the name in a large movie theater in 1993 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  I remember it because in a movie theater that could seat 250 people there was myself, and two other people, in the entire theater.  The name of that movie was National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1.

The movie is a parody of the first two Lethal Weapon movies as well as a host of other successful films of the late 80’s early 90’s.  Detectives Colt, played by Emilio Estevez (Bobby,) and Luger, played by Samuel L. Jackson (Iron Man 2,) are looking for the killer of Luger’s former partner York, played briefly by Whoopi Goldberg (Sister Act,) and how its connected with the distribution of Cocaine by selling Wilderness Girl Cookies.

Thanks to wonderful comedic spoof movies such as Airplane and, more importantly, The Naked Gun franchise, in the 80’s, spoof movies became a part of the comedic movie landscape.  Unfortunately almost all of them suck.  But that didn’t keep people from making them.  The problem is that the spoof movies all suffered from the same thing in that they largely ignored the story and instead used a constant barrage of one time gags that weren’t even related to the film’s story but had more to do with pop culture of the time.  The reason why Airplane, The Naked Gun, Hot Shots, and two of the Scary Movies, are funny is that the story is the driving force of the comedy and the gags that are written into it are overblown examples of the movies they are spoofing.

The problem for Loaded Weapon 1 is that most of the films gags are all based on other movies of the era and even though they are blown out of proportion that don’t add to the humor of the film.  The gags that were spoofing the movies Silence of the Lambs and Basic Instinct didn’t really work.  Although I will say that the interrogation scene that was from Basic Instinct was somewhat humorous because of the “gratuitous beaver shot” in which they movie showed a stuff beaver was somewhat cleaver.  Nowhere near as cleaver as the “Nice Beaver” gag in The Naked Gun, but it did cause me to giggle when I saw the film, which is few and far between.  The writing is the weak link in the film.  Too many of the pop culture references, while they may look good on paper, just don’t work.  Besides the above mentioned movie references there is a scene where the Colt and Luger are in a hotel looking for their informant and they move up the stairs where they see gunfire.  When they get to the second floor they see a motorcycle policeman with his cycle, shooting at someone.  This isn’t any ordinary motorcycle cop but Officer Frank “Ponch” Poncherello from the 70’s and 80’s TV show C.H.i.P.S. (unfortunately being remade into a movie coming out this year for some reason.)  While I would assume many of us would get the joke by this time it is 10 years after the TV show was canceled and nowhere near funny enough.

The actors were a mix bag of both funny and unfunny.  While I am a fan of both Emilio Estevez and Samuel L. Jackson, neither of them really seemed to have any comedic timing in the film but then again it could be because they didn’t have anything funny to say.  It was almost as if they were both the straight men and the rest of the cast got to have all the fun.  Since a certain amount of over acting needs to take place, the main villain of the film, General Mortars, played by William Shatner (Star Trek,)is perfectly cast because no man overacts like Shatner and has a great time doing it.  General Mortars henchman Mr. Jigsaw, played by Tim Curry (Clue,) is also enjoyable in the film.  I will admit that the one actress I wanted to see in this film is a horrible actress but a gorgeous super model…of the 1980’s.  Her name is Kathy Ireland and she is very hot…for the 1980’s.  She is horrible in the film but wonderful to look at.

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If you want to watch the film, you watch for the Shatner over acting, the fun work of Tim Curry and the plethora of cameo’s from many comedians of the day (and one gorgeous actress named Denise Richards who is in a very short scene with Dennis Leary.)  This movie is a portent of all of the bad spoof movies to come in the late 1990’s and 2000’s and also the beginning of the end of the name of National Lampoon being synonymous with comedy.  It did make a brief showing in Van Wilder, but thankfully now has been put to bed.  Lastly I will say that I forgot how bad this movie was and was thinking about buying it online because as I am getting older I am having a serious nostalgia bug as well as today a real bug because the idiot M.I.T. at work got me sick.  Fortunately I only rented it because something told me this was not worth buying.  I was right in that it is not worth buying but it is also not worth renting, ever.

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lego-batmanSo I had my choices of movies that opened this weekend to see. They were John Wick: Chapter 2(which I am waiting to see with a friend,) Fifty Shades Darker (be a cold day in hell for me to see that movie by myself,) and The LEGO Batman Movie.   Now the one similar thing between Fifty Shades Darker and The LEGO Batman Movie is that a single guy going to see either of these movies by himself is borderline creepy, albeit for different reasons.    So if you had in the aforementioned cold day in hell and the fact that I love Batman, The LEGO movie it would be.  I was hoping for another surprise like last year’s Zootopia.  Instead I got something that was closer to Minions with more steady laughs but no laugh out loud moments.

LEGO Batman, voiced by Will Arnet (Despicable Me,) is the King of Gotham constantly foiling the evil plans of the Joker, voiced by Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover.)  But one thing that Batman hasn’t been able to overcome is his fear of loss relating to his parents.  That is why he fights crime alone and lives alone with Alfred, voiced by Ralph Fiennes (Spectre.) His life takes a sudden change when he accidentally agrees to adopt orphan Dick Grayson, voiced by Michael Cera (Superbad,) when Batman was distracted by the new Gotham Police Commissioner Barbara Gordon, voiced by Rosario Dawson (Sin City.)  As Batman tries to hide his fear from his new friends The Joker is working on the ultimate plan to get revenge on Batman.

My basic problem with this film is twofold.  One, to me, the movie is aimed at children under the age of 12.  Two, while there are lots of little jokes, especially Batman lore related, nothing really makes me laugh out loud and it seems like there was no real story development because it is very basic.  Of course since I believe the target market is 11 and under, that works.

The story of the movie has the feel of an afterschool special movie made in the 70’s and 80’s.  The whole purpose of the story is to tell kids the importance of family and how you can’t do things alone and that it is ok to ask for help from anyone, including your enemy. This is all fine and good I suppose for the Millennial and Gen-Xer parents out there wanting to enforce that kind of crap…I’m sorry, feelings in their kids.  The problem I have is that in this day in age of Pixar films and non-Pixar Disney films and a few Dreamworks films that cater to both the child and the adult child, this film is aimed strictly for the kids and for me belongs on the Disney Channel and not at the movie theater.  But then again I don’t have kids so what do I know.

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The most telling thing for me and this film is that today I had a long day of work and barely five hours of sleep.  No matter how tired I am if I am into the movie I have no problems staying awake.  However, for this film, I dozed off for I would think 10 minutes at least because I have no idea how The Joker’s Gotham city bad guys got dumped by the Joker for all of the phantom zone villains but it did (This will make more sense when you see the film.)

I will say all of the Batman related jokes were giggle worthy but if you know nothing about Batman and its movies or the TV show then you might miss out on them and then the entire film won’t be funny at all.  The special effects were also amazing and on par with the LEGO Movie.

This will be an entertaining film for your kids but I can’t say for sure that you will like it.  This movie basically takes a great character from the LEGO Movie and tries to give that character its own film but the story is to basic and the lack of humor makes it basically a one trick pony for one and half hours.  But go see it because it won’t be the worst film you see this year.

Oh yes one more thing, there normally would be a whole paragraph on how annoyed I am that movie studios and their marketing departments are wasting the movies best material in the ridiculous amount of trailers released before the movie and why that it is bad.  But I am beginning to accept the fact that this will be happening all the time in the present and future so I should just get used to it.  So stupid.

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Every generation has those precious few great actors that you get to grow up watching from the time you are a child, to young adult, and so on. My generation has been lucky to have a few truly great actors and without a doubt one of the actors at the top of the list is Tom Hanks.  He has been nominated for 5 Academy Awards for Best Actor and has won two, Philadelphia and Forest Gump, and he should have won a third for Saving Private Ryan.  Many of the movies he is in are up for Academy Awards for Best Picture and he has worked with some of the best directors around in Stephen Spielberg, Clint Eastwood, and Frank Darabont.  If you see his name involved in a movie, or TV mini-series for that matter, you can make a safe bet that the project will be great.

My introduction to Tom Hanks was the late 1970’s show Bosom Buddies which is funny because I vaguely remember that the TV show was actually supposed to be the springboard for his fellow cast member Peter Scolari and even though in my head I thought the show lasted 5 years it only lasted 2 and 1/2.  My next experience with Tom Hanks hooked me forever and maybe made me want to get married just so I could enjoy what I thought was the traditional bachelor party full of fire trucks, drugs, guns, booze, and hookers (this is a line from the movie.)   I watched him through the 80’s in good comedies, such as The Money Pit, and not so good comedies, Dragnet, and one absolutely horrible film, Joe versus the Volcano.  I became a huge fan after I watched the move Nothing In Common.  Then there was Big, Forrest Gump, Apollo 13, and Saving Private Ryan and I was forever sold on movies that he was in.  I became a big fan of his and realized that I am lucky to have a great actor to watch in my life for many, many years.

For me trying to pick my favorite Hanks films is difficult for many reason one of them being that I haven’t seen a few recent ones and a couple old ones that I should have.   I have been trying very hard to watch The Green Mile, Philadelphia (although I am thinking I saw this once but probably 20 years ago so I don’t remember,) Captain Phillips, and Charlie Wilson’s War just to name a few.  There are a couple of films I have seen but just don’t remember like Cast Away and Big for example, that I can’t put in this list either although I am pretty sure they should be.  But I ran out time to watch them again.

Another expectation that I am eliminating are the films that his performance were great, vocal or otherwise, but I wasn’t a fan of them or just don’t think they belong on this list.  The great performance but lousy movie award goes to A League of Their Own, my review you can read here, and the Toy Story movies that even though he is great in his vocal performance I am just not sure I can include them in my Top five films.  I will also say that my honorable mentions and #5 movie could all be interchanged it is that hard for me.  Even in writing this list I have changed my mind about four times

So with this all being said, I would like to present to you my Top Five Favorite Tom Hanks films (as of November 2016):

ygm#5 – You’ve Got Mail (1998):

I know what you are thinking, of the two Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks romantic comedies this isn’t even the better of the two (I forget that Joe versus the Volcano is supposed to be a rom/com for the two but I consider it a disaster on all levels.)  I know and I’m sorry but for a rom/com I find Sleepy in Seattle too slow and nowhere near as funny.  This may be an overly simple plot but I find it charming, funny, it used cutting edge technology, at that time, to create a plot point that ironically is the main way people meet today.  The love interests met in an old AOL chatroom and now-a-days everyone is using a dating app to meet people.  At the end of the day I watch this movie a lot and that’s why its number 5 on my list.

Briefly, this movie involves the son of the and part owner of a big box book store called Fox Books (Barnes & Noble like) named Joe Fox, played by Hanks, and the owner of a small children’s book store, Shop Around the Corner, named Kathleen Kelly, played by Ryan, who meet in an America Online chat room.   They don’t share any information about each other so they have no idea that they become rivals when a Fox Books store is built in the same NYC neighborhood as her bookstore.  The drama begins as they begin to fall for each other anonymously online but have a strong dislike for each other professionally.

This movie makes me smile from almost beginning to end.  All of it has to do with Tom Hanks and how he does what he does when it comes to quick wit and physical comedy.   I guess I shouldn’t say all because the writer does a great job of playing on the stereotypes that are prevalent in New York’s west side.   Among the co-stars I loved Dabney Coleman who played the Dad to Joe Fox.  Every scene he was in, and there weren’t a lot, I thought he was able to match wits with Tom Hanks with the humor.  He wasn’t so much the quick wit as he was the blunt observation humor of the group.  He also inadvertently added the insight Hanks character needed to chase after Kathleen.  I will also say that David Chappelle gives his best performance he has had in the movies with his small roll in this film as the manager of this particular Fox Books store.  He allowed the script to create the humor and was never over the top.  Lastly I would like to mention Greg Kinnear who was the pretentious douchebag NY Liberal writer and boyfriend to Kathleen Kelly.  He was a humorous representation of what NY liberals are that you wouldn’t see now because those types of people don’t like to make fun of themselves.   He was particularly funny when he found out that Kathleen’s mother figure Birdie fell in love with Generalissimo Franco of Spain when she was in Spain.  He was briefly hilarious. Oh and quickly I’ll mention Parker Posey as the neurotic girlfriend to Joe Fox.  She was highly annoying and that is what she is supposed to be.  Even annoying she is still hot.

One thing I liked about the story is that it doesn’t take the easy way out and have Kathleen Kelly immediately after she finds out her rival Joe Fox is also the secret love over the internet.  The writer took the time to allow Joe Fox to become friends with her before revealing to her that her one time big rival and killer of her business is the love of her life.

Unlike Benn who can remember why he disliked or like a movie he saw 14 years ago and write a 1000 word review on them, I struggle writing reviews if I haven’t seen it recently or, as in this case, I am a big fan of the movie.  In order to write this for my Top 5 List I have seen the movie about 6 times in the last 36 hours and only stopped to watch the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving.  I am a big fan of this film which is why its number 5.

davincicode#4 – The Da Vinci Code (2006):

This movie plays at my heart strings on many levels.  I am a sucker for action movies that take place in Europe.  I just love watching car chases, planes, trains, motorcycles, any kind of action that involves roads and buildings that have been around for 300 years or more.  This movie also plays on my love of history and mixing history into the plot of the story.  Then finally you have a smart detective movie that involves twists and turns and betrayal around every corner.  Plus, and this is sinful to millions of people, but I have read the book (ok listened to the unabridged book on CD,) and watched the movie and I like the movie much more.

The second reason why I love this film is the cast itself.  I love Hanks as this brainy professor who is almost a human encyclopedia who is brave and courageous but is not a physical presence in the film.  He is not going to kick anyone’s ass.  Sure he can defend himself but I don’t see him winning a physical fight.  I love Audrey Tatou as well in this film.  Being the female lead and in a role in which she is more of the brute force of this duo is fun.  I think she is wonderful as this simultaneously strong yet confused and vulnerable in trying to find out the truth.  One change that the movie made that was a great improvement over the book was changing the character of Sir Leigh Teabing from being a younger overweight professor to an elderly thin and handicapped man portrayed by Ian McKellen.  No matter how many times I watch the movie, and its lots, I am completely memorized by the whole scene where McKellen, as Teabing, explains the true story of the Holy Grail to Langdon and Neveu I am watching like I have never seen it before with wide eyes becoming a true believer of what he is saying.  Sure its from a book but that is still great story telling.

Since I plan on doing a review I won’t go into to many more details but much like my 5th favorite Tom Hanks, there are better movies in my honorable then this movie but I love watching this movie over and over and isn’t that what these lists are about?

nothingincommon#3 Nothing In Common (1986):

As I said in my review which you can read here, this is the first movie when I realized that Tom Hanks could really act.  I did not see this movie when it came out but I did see it before his breakout roles in Philadelphia and Forest Gump.  This movie showed what is best in Tom Hanks and for me his swing spot is when he is in a movie that is equally funny and dramatic.  That is this movie.  His performance as well as Jackie Gleason, who played his father, was mesmerizing for me to watch.  I said in my review that his quick wit was on display and he was perfectly cast as an advertising executive who makes commercials.  I want to believe that some of the comedy in the film, especially in the beginning was improvisation because if it wasn’t I want to know why the writers haven’t gone on to better things.  In fact they disappeared.  Which for me lends credence to the belief that I have that a lot of the comedy was improve.

I mentioned Gleason and I have to say it was great to see him in this roll.  I vaguely remember him on the TV show The Honeymooners with the reruns in the 1970’s but my large knowledge of him comes from the Smokey and The Bandit movies because I never saw the film he was nominated for an Academy Award, The Hustler.  In Smokey and The Bandit he played an over the top comedic character of a Texas county Sheriff named Buford T. Justice.  Anyway, the most amazing thing to me is that this was the last film and while he was filming the movie he had already been diagnosed with three forms of cancer.  He was in retirement and at first refused director Garry Marshall’s request to come shoot the film but was persuaded when Marshall told him that if he didn’t shoot this film the last film in his long career would have been Smokey and The Bandit 3, a film so God Awful that Burt Reynolds declined to be in it.  Now maybe he played the part of an unhealthy father because he was dying in real life but to me he was the perfect foil to Hanks.

I can’t remember the last time this movie made the classic TV circuit if ever, but if you want to watch a great Tom Hanks film before he was great and have a taste of 80’s nostalgia with the music and the hair and the carefree attitude of sex and adultery and childish behavior in the office, rent this on Netflix or Amazon and enjoy.

forrestgump#2 Forrest Gump (1994):

True confession time, I didn’t see the movie Philadelphia for quite some time.  I didn’t care for the subject because it became oh so politicized and of course my political beliefs were in the wrong back then as they always are all the time.  I was annoyed with Tom Hanks for taking on that roll even though it won him his first Academy Award.  I can’t tell you why, maybe it was because, and its childish and stupid but my high school sweetheart, who I had broken up with by then, had come out of the closet and I was very resentful of wasting two years of my high school dating a woman who wasn’t sure who she was attracted to.  I had plenty of girls to choose from.  Anyway, that’s all I have to say about that.  I bring up the movie Philadelphia because since I ignored it, Forrest Gump is the movie that I consider to be his iconic film roll that shows how amazing an actor he became.

Forrest Gump, played by Tom Hanks, is considered a stupid man because of his 75 IQ.  However this “stupid” man begins a journey that takes him from small town in Alabama to a college football superstar at the University of Alabama to a Congressional Medal of Honor Winner, to Shrimping Boat Captain, and millionaire and all while being almost blissfully unaware of his accomplishments.  Along the way he meets the icons, heroes, and villains, of the Baby Boom generation in the likes of Elvis Pressley, John Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and John Lennon.   He takes guidance from his mother, Mrs. Gump, played by Sally Field, and his commander from Vietnam, Lieutenant Dan, played by Gary Sinise.  His real inspiration is his girlfriend from childhood Jeannie, played by Robin Wright, and she is a character that suffers all the pitfalls from this era in terms of sex, drugs, and violence from the 60’s and 70’s.  If Forrest is unaware of his success and his high highs, the Jeannie is very much aware of her failures and the very low lows.  This is a great character movie with a dynamic cast with the best performance by Tom Hanks.

Throughout this list I have talked about how wonderful Tom Hanks is by using his physical skills in creating comedy.  Well in this film he uses his physical skills to perfection by showing so many emotions through his face and the way he walked and talked.  He did wonderful job keeping is voice the same from beginning to end and I love how he mixed his southern voice with a specific lower tone in his voice to show that he was “slow.”  Another thing that he did vocally that was terrific was to be very precise in his articulation of his words.  He may be using the wrong words and he may be considered dumb but to me because Hanks was so specific in his articulation that it gave Forrest a quiet confidence because you always knew what he was talking about.

I love the purpose of the story in this film.   The character of Jeannie wanted to be a famous musician and to be rich.  She constantly was moving around to find herself but she ended up getting into bad situation after bad situation.  Forrest Gump on the other hand just lived life that was given to him and he ended up being the famous one.  It was great to watch that transpire.

This is a wonderful movie but it isn’t my favorite Hanks movie.  In fact my favorite Hanks movie is the one in which he provides almost no humor at all.  In this movie he creates humor by being the character of Forest Gump and the situations that happened.  I can’t imagine anyone that hasn’t seen this film but if you haven’t please do, it’s a great performance, and a great review of all of the good and bad of the Baby Boomer generation.

savingprivateryan#1 Saving Private Ryan (1998):

This is my favorite Tom Hanks film.  It is also my favorite military film.  If you want to read my review, please go here.  I am going to copy and paste the comments from my Top 5 Military film to describe this movie but I will say that this movie is amazing and Tom Hanks is as well. His performance has Captain Miller was amazing.  There were several scenes that again showed how he can act brilliantly.  It starts right in the beginning as he is on Omaha Beach and he is watching his men get cut to shreds.  Then there is the scene in the church where he is talking about how many men he has lost since he took command.  My favorite of his when his being confronted by his own men about the loss of two of their own troops trying to find another Private Ryan because he is able to diffuse the situation by giving up the information about his personal life that he kept hidden.  This is an amazing movie and it is my favorite Tom Hanks Film.

 

From my Top 5 Military Movies post:

This movie had me in the first 30 minutes in the film. I have jumped a lot in my days at horror movies but I have never been generally scared at any sitting of any film.  That all changed when I saw Saving Private Ryan’s opening scene and the attack on Omaha Beach.  I had never seen anything like that before in any movie.  The movie theater felt like a battle zone and it almost felt like the bullets were zooming past you.  I remember seeing some older gentleman in the movie theater, normally way too old to see a movie like that, and I heard them talking about it after words.  I went up to them and asked if they were veterans and they said they were and I asked if that first scene was close to the real thing.  They told me no, not at all.  But it was the best portrayal a movie has ever shown.

This movie is an example of the kind of courage you need in battle.  More than 2000 men died on Omaha beach that day and even though other movies tried to give an example of what it was like, The Longest Day for example, this movie put you there and while I have always respected the men who fought for our country this movie only deepened it.  I will never know if I have the kind of courage the men and women have in today’s military have to have in order to the jobs they do in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria.  I would like to think I would have the training and the will power.  But I will never know.

Saving Private Ryan is a movie about a group of Rangers that are looking for a soldier with the 101st Airborne named Private Ryan who jumped into France the night before the D-Day invasion which was June 6, 1944.  The group was sent to find the soldier because the soldier had three brothers all of whom had died in on various battlefields, including D-Day itself.  Ryan was getting an honorable discharge from the military because of the loss of his brothers.  The Rangers job was to go and find this “needle in a haystack.”

The movie is an ensemble cast of pure brilliance.  The movie cast was led by Tom Hanks and had Matt Damon, Edward Burns, Vin Diesel, Barry Pepper, Tom Sizemore, Paul Giamatti, Giovanni Ribisi, Dennis Farina and a host of others.  The movie was directed by Stephen Spielberg and I feel that this is his second best movie next to another movie about World War II, Schindler’s List.  It seemed to me that everyone was perfectly cast especially Hanks as the Captain of the Rangers and Sizemore as his Sargent.  They made the downtime between battles meaningful and the movie seem quick.  In fact the movie was way to fast and I wished it would have kept going to see the survivors continue on in the war.

This war movie is the movie that all other war movies get compared to from the past and the future.  I will always grade any future movie I witness against this film in terms of action, character development, and truth to the history, and authenticity.  This film is a true film that I believe gives justice to all those who have served past and present.  My full review can be seen here.

 

Honorable Mention (In no particular order just know that two of these at one point were number 4 and number 5) :

Sully (2016):

This movie was at one point both number 4 and 5.  I moved it off because as amazing as this film is I don’t know how I will watch it once I get this film on Bluray.  It is an amazing film for many reasons including Hanks and the director Clint Eastwood.  This movie is better than both my current four and five’s but I don’t know given the subject matter of the film if I would be watching it as much as I watch the others.  I have written a review of the film that you can read here.

Road To Perdition (2002):

Tom Hanks the bad guy.  It’s weird to see some of our favorite actors portray bad guys.  This reminds me of Robin Williams in the movies One Hour Photo and Insomnia.  Although in Tom Hanks case it may be a misnomer to say that he is a bad guy.  He is mind you because he is a hit man for an Irish mobster that is an ally of the Capone mob in the 1930’s.  Things get fuzzy when his son sneaks into his car when Hanks’s character Michael Sullivan is protecting the mobsters’ son Conner, played by Daniel Craig, and the son ends up killing a rival and forcing Michael to gun down the rivals body guards.  Connor ends up sending Michael on a mission that is supposed to get him killed and Connor goes to kill Michael’s family because of Michael’s son seeing the hit.  Michael survives the attack but loses his wife and a son who didn’t witness the crime.  He then goes on a quest to protect his only son and kill of the mobsters son which draws the wrath of the Capone mob.  This is a great father son film and you don’t see it too often but you should definitely pick it up.  This was my original number 4 film but I pulled it because as amazing as it is, this is quite a sad film and I don’t watch it as often as I should.

Bridge of Spies (2015):

There was a brief period in time when I stopped going to see new Tom Hanks films.  Before I saw this film in the spring of 2015 the last film of his I saw in the movie theater was Angels & Demons.  This movie made me regret missing so many of his films since then.  This film is pretty freaking amazing and the only reason why I haven’t got it on my list is because I just like the others more.  Gun to my head if you told me that this film was better than both my number one and number two choices, in terms of how good the film is, I would probably agree with you.  That is how much I believe in how good this film is.  I just don’t know how many times I would watch this film versus the others.  This is an amazing film if you like History and the Cold War or Stephen Spielberg and Tom Hanks.  If you don’t then this film probably wont appeal to you.  To read my review click here.

Bachelor Party (2004):

Yes this is the worst film on this list, by far.  But I love this film so much.  I contemplated making this film my top 5 film but I couldn’t because it was so dumb.  But in terms of comedy and creating some wonderful wet dreams for a 13 year old boy who got to see it on HBO, this is a fun movie.  I laughed and laughed and laughed and still do every time I watch this film.  If you want to read one of my old reviews then click here to read a review of this film.

Apollo 13 (1995):

This film is fun to watch.  I would also say that unless you are interested in history you probably wouldn’t like this film.  But is an amazing film about NASA and the problems that they overcame in this historical event.  Tom Hanks was the serious actor in this film but he was, and I hate to type this again, amazing in it as the commander.  Gary Sinise was in this film as well and was wonderful as was Bill Paxton and Kevin Bacon.  It’s a long film but to me it goes fast because the suspense builds from the beginning and just continues to the last scene which I believe is hard to do when you know the outcome.  But it does and this is a great film.

 

Well that sums up my list of my favorite Tom Hanks films. My guess is that if I were to do this again in 5 years there will be new movies on the list.  I feel lucky as a fan of movies to be able to enjoy his work on the big screen.  I will make a point to make sure and not miss anymore of his films.

 

 

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cape-fearSo this is kind of weird for me. I saw this movie a couple of months ago and started writing a review where I was telling you how God awful bored I was at watching this supposed thriller.  But I didn’t finish the review and now its two months later and so I decided to watch this movie again so I could refresh my memory and I found it to be not as horrible as the first time I watched.  It is still bad but not as bad as I thought.

After serving 8 years in prison for assault and battery, Max Cady , played by Robert Mitchum (The Longest Day,) tracks down Sam Bowden, played by Gregory Peck (To Kill a Mockingbird,)who Cady personally blames for being in jail because Bowden intervened during the attack and testified against him.  Once Bowden realizes Cady is in town it becomes a game of cat and mouse as Cady stalks Bowden and his family but makes sure to never cross the line and break the law or gets caught breaking the law.  Bowden begins to lose his grasp of right and wrong as the family dog is poisoned and his daughter Nancy is hit by a car running away from Bowden.    Bowden decides to set a trap for Cady on a house boat on Cape Fear River where he can take care of Cady once and for all.

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Expectations are a funny thing.  When I watched this film for the first time I had high expectations because back in the early 1990’s I remembered the hype of the remake of this film and all I heard was how intense it was and how much of a bad ass Robert Mitchum was as Cady.  As I was watching the movie for the first time I was stunned at how slow the pace was from the beginning.  It reminds me of what my movie cohort Benn Farrell usually says about all of these movies made before the 1960’s.  Many of the scenes looked as if it was shot on a theater production stage as opposed to an actual movie stage.  The only time we had any wide shots were when there were scenes shot outside.  Almost all of the inside shots were close up shots that just give you the feeling that they are shooting in a box.  One of my biggest issues with this production was the use of the music in the film.  When I first heard it during the opening credits and establishing shot I was thinking that this was perfect mood music to set the movie up.  The only problem is that it seems like the music never disappears.  It got so bad that the more I heard it I was saying to myself, “Here comes the bad guy about to do bad things.”    The use of music reminded me of movies from the 1940’s on how music was used to set the music of every scene.  The last thing I will say about the production is that I know that this movie was made in 1962 but we never really saw the character Cady do bad things until the final act when he killed a cop in a stakeout.  Other than that, we heard a lot about how bad a man he was, and when he was about to do something bad in the movie, like beat up the woman he picked up at the local bar in his apartment, we see the girl look at Cady who has malicious intent in his eyes and she gets up to run…somewhere…and he grabs her as she grabs a swinging door and then all we see are shadows moving beyond the swinging door.   Mind you this entire time there is menacing bad guy music the ENTIRE time.  No words are spoken at all.  I know he is a bad guy but something to prove it in the beginning would be nice other than stories and mean music.

Despite the fact that the music was in the way and the production didn’t help, Robert Mitchum was still pretty awesome as the bad guy Cady.  He was menacing without the music and was very believable as a person who would appear to hate women in general.  Gregory Peck was pretty awesome as the desperate lawyer who wanted to protect his family.  I would say that the acting overall was pretty good.  I will say that with the exception of Mitchum the rest of the actors seemed to almost pantomime their acting.  I guess what I mean is that during the many times that there were no speaking parts and the camera was just panning between the actors only Mitchum seemed to be acting with his body and the rest, especially the ladies, all looked like either angry or shocked mannequins.

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I mentioned earlier that when I had high expectations for this movie I thought it was painfully slow and it was.  I kept waiting to see this suspenseful thriller about a killer stalking a family instead I go a slow and slumbering story about a guy who was more creeping on the young daughter and less scary stalker.  I will say that the costume department did a wonderful job of making a 15 year old girl look 1960’s naughty and by that I mean she was constantly wearing short skin tight shorts as well as a tight blouse…almost all the time.  By our standards today that would be nun-like but in 1962 that is terrible.  So the creeper factor was there every time Cady was looking at her in bad ways.  But it still didn’t make up for the slow pace of the film.  Basically every time Cady would do something to taunt Bowden there would be a 10 minute discussion as to what to do about it.  It got tiresome after an hour.

Lastly I will say that I also mentioned that the second time I watched this film and with no expectations I was able to pay attention to it more.  I can’t tell you why other than I kept thinking that the first time I saw this film it left such a bad taste in my mouth that I thought it was worse than it was and that’s on me.  There are a lot worse films from this time period but it just wasn’t as awesome as I was expecting.

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bonfireBoy I must have really done something to Benn to make me watch this film. I mean sure I asked him to do an essay on the Cinema de Stephen Segal, but he never did it.  And I didn’t make him because that is a hell that no one should have to deal with.  But then makes me watch this film, and when I text him and say that he finally has shown me a Tom Hanks movie worse than Joe Versus the Volcano, he laughs and says, yeah I watched and knew it was bad.  Well then why the hell make me watch it then?  Ok, so you just wait until I find something terrible for you to watch, Mr. Farrell.

Sherman McCoy, played by Tom Hanks (Nothing In Common,) is a Wall Street Bond trader who is also married with a kid.  Sherman also has a mistress Maria Ruskin, played by Melanie Griffith (Working Girl,) accidentally runs over a black teenager in the South Bronx while driving his car while in the car.  This sets off a chain of events that causes his life to unravel under the scrutiny of a minister, a district attorney running for mayor, an assistant district attorney trying to score points with his boss, and a down on his luck reporter, named Peter Fallow, played by Bruce Willis (Sin City,) looking for a story.  As Fallow starts to uncover the facts he begins to realize that Sherman is being railroaded by everyone and looks to help him out.

So to begin with we have to talk about the elephant in the room.  What in God’s name is Melanie Griffith doing in this movie?  Better yet, who the hell cast her to act in this film?  Her Southern accent is absolutely atrocious.  She hasn’t got a great voice to begin with because it seems like to me her regular voice is barely above a whisper.  Then you add an uneven and almost unpracticed sounding accent and every time she is on screen I am hating every second of it.  I know at this point in time she was coming off her Academy Award nomination for Working Girl, but that clearly was an anomaly on a otherwise unspectacular career and even Benn said in his review of Working Girl, click here to read it, she wasn’t all that good.  There is only one reason why, in my eyes, she was cast for this role and it can be seen in this picture here.

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While I was watching Tom Hanks in this film I was thinking of his performance in the movie The Man with the One Red Shoe.  For large parts of the film Hanks was playing this part very stiff and by the look in his eyes he wasn’t enjoying participating in this film.  There was nothing to like about his character in the film.  He is cheating on his wife and he is an arrogant tool.  So it’s hard to feel sorry for him when he discovers that everyone has decided to either betray him or frame him or use his situation for political gain.   And I really want to cheer for him because he is Tom Hanks!  Plus the writing was poor in this film, for many reasons, but one of the big ones is that it fails in showing how Hanks’s character Sherman has become estranged from his parents.  We get one back handed compliment from his wife Judy, played by Kim Cattrall (Crossroads,) about how he isn’t his dad, and we get one lunch at the beginning that shows that his father, played by Donald Moffit (Clear and Present Danger,) and his mother are concerned about him.  So this makes one of the final scenes anti-climatic when Sherman’s dad shows up in his empty apartment to tell him he loves him and supports him.  It would have been great if we had seen that they were angry with each other but that wasn’t the case so the reconciliation seemed unnecessary and pointless other than to feel good about the moment.   I will say that because it was Tom Hanks I was at least a little bit happier, so it did work, but only because I like Tom Hanks.

The other main star in this film, Bruce Willis, is also playing an unlikeable character.  He is a drunk and he writes the article based the lies of the people who have the agenda against Sherman.  So when he suddenly realizes the truth that Maria was the one driving, not Sherman, and he is helping to destroy an innocent man, it seems a little out of character for him and also self-serving.  In fact the whole point of the film is to show how one man can fall but still have everything and how a man can come from nothing and have everything, but still have nothing.  Bruce Willis also played the character of Peter Fallow in the same way he played his character on the TV show Moonlighting with one difference in that unlike the character of David Addison on the TV show, Peter Fallon has no “character” what so ever.  He is just a robotic reporter who is unable to convey emotion.

Like the three main characters, the rest of the cast, save one person, are all horrible people and impossible to cheer for in any capacity.  They are all crooked and corrupt and are just not good people and therefore I don’t care about them.  Now I am guessing that this is the point of the movie, as is I would guess the point of the book that it is based on.  The book was written during the 80’s where all the supposed evil in the country was centered in Wall Street and the people who worked in it.  So why a make a movie where you have to try and make one of these likeable?  I don’t get it.  But I did say there was one character who was likeable and that was the Judge in the Brooklyn court, Judge Leonard White, played by Morgan Freeman (Batman Begins.)  He is the one that is constantly yelling at all those who are corrupted and putting them in order, especially at Sherman’s trial.  He has a great speech about telling everyone to be decent.  Of course to me, the only other actor in this movie that has the credibility that Tom Hanks does would be Morgan Freeman.  He is an amazing actor and he had the only decent character in this movie.

This movie has no real redeeming quality because it has no one that you really want to cheer for as a hero.  Then you throw in the incredibly annoying voice and bad acting ability of Melanie Griffith and you have a recipe for disaster.  For some odd reason I remember the hype surrounding this movie back in 1990 before it came out and then the horrid reviews and box office failure of it.  I didn’t see it because of all that and now that I have seen it part of me wants to see some harm befall Benn Farrell.  It’ll pass because I don’t want it to happen, but making me watch movies like this makes me want to think it.

 

 

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nothingincommonThis movie to me was a prelude to how great Tom Hanks could be as an actor. This movie is also one of my favorite movies ever because no matter how many times I watch it I get so caught up in the film that I can’t focus on anything else, like write a review.  This film got me on a personal level because of the relationship I had with my father and even more so now that my father is gone.  Despite that I still argue that this is one of Hanks best performances he has had and in my list of Top Five Favorite Tom Hanks films this film is in the Top 5.

David Basner, played by Tom Hanks (The Man with One Red Shoe,) is a single, newly promoted executive in a successful Chicago advertising agency.  In an effort to gain a possible partnership in the agency he is trying bring in a new client, an airline, to the agency.  Before he can get started he gets a phone call from his estranged father Max, played by Jackie Gleason (Smokey and the Bandit,) who tells David that his mom, Lorraine, played by Eva Marie Saint (On the Waterfront,) has left him.  David begins to endure the worst time of his life as he tries to understand what happened to his parents, helping the both, dealing with the new client’s daughter Cheryl Ann, played by Sela Ward (Independence Day: Resurgence,) who is an executive with the new client, and leaning on his friend and ex high school girlfriend Donna, played by Bess Armstrong, (Jaws 3-D,) for support.

To me this is the first movie that Tom Hanks shows his ability to be a great dramatic actor.  In his scenes with Jackie Gleason he does a great job of portraying a low level form of dislike for the man as well as a begrudging love.  He also does a great job in showing his frustration with having to try and be a caring son to his separated parents and not have it affect his work, which it definitely does.  But not only is he able to show his dramatic chops in this film but he is able to make the funny scenes in this comedy drama very funny.  I don’t know if it was writing or improvisation but his quick wit was on display when he is sparing with his fellow employees as well as with the owner of the airline.   Hanks also makes this character very likeable.  I enjoy watching him in every scene and I am cheering for him when he sleeps with the airline stewardess as well as Cheryl Ann.  I also want to see him get back together with Donna as well.  And because I am cheering for him I feel his pain as he struggles with accepting the separation of his parents and especially the difficulty in his relationship with his dad.  I believe that this is easily his best performance in the 1980’s which includes the movie Big and is a great indicator of his future success in the 1990’s and early 2000’s.

The other actor who was amazing in this film, and mind you I think all were great, was Jackie Gleason.  His portrayal of Max was amazing as he showed a man that is in some ways not a likeable man but in many ways a sympathetic man.  To me his character represented the ending of the single income household from the 40’s and 50’s in that the woman stayed home to raise the kids and the men worked.  That kind of man could still love his wife and family but have affairs and justify it.  He also made sure that he worked hard enough and long enough to make sure his family was never wanting for more.  He also was the kind of man who didn’t complain about illness and wasn’t likely to change either.  All of these traits were clashing with the men of the 1980’s who were a little bit more in touch with their feelings.  This dynamic plays out constantly in this movie with Max and David’s relationship.  Max never tells David he loves him, but David knows he does.  The amazing part of Jackie Gleason’s performance is that by this time in his life he was literally dying.  He was suffering from 4 different forms of cancer and was actually retired when director Garry Marshall asked him to come do this film.  He was able to get Gleason to do it because he told him if he didn’t then his last film would have been Smokey and the Bandit 3 and trust me that is not a good thing.

Eva Marie Saint did a nice job as David’s mother.  She had two great scenes when she tells David that she knew his father was cheating on her during their marriage and that everyone knew it and that she was embarrassed to admit it to him.  This was the catalyst for a bad confrontation between David and Max.  The other scene is when Max is in the hospital and she is there to initially check up on him and it devolves into yet another fight about their relationship and what he didn’t do.  The only thing she did that was annoying to me, and its small but it gets me every time I watch this film, is when she has cleaned her old apartment that she shared with Max and stocked it for him before he gets home from the hospital.  She gives David the keys and tells him she is never coming back.  She then turns and walks towards the door and gives both sides of the room a look and then shakes her head and walks out of the room forever.  The head shake is more of a good buy and good riddance shake and it just bothers me.  I get it, I know why she did it, but it still bothers me.

The entire supporting cast was great as well.  Loved Bess Armstrong as Donna Martin and am somewhat surprised that the only other big movie she was ever in was Jaws 3-D.  That is some kind of miscarriage of justice.  Sela Ward was also great as Cheryl Ann Wayne, the 80’s female power broker and a great counter to David’s borderline childish empowerment in the work force. The other main supporting cast that were noticeable were the airline owner Andrew Woolridge, played by Barry Corbin (Wargames,) the owner of the ad agency Charlie Gargis, played by Hector Elizondo (Pretty Woman,) and Roger the director, played by John  Kapelos (The Breakfast Club.)  Both Roger and Charlie play a part in helping David’s relationship with Max although in different ways.  Roger admits to David that he hasn’t spoken to his dad in years right after David talks about the huge fight he had with Max.  But the best part is when David just had blown up at Mr. Woolridge and was fired by Cheryl Wayne from the account and Charlie comes in to see how David is doing.  David has learned that Max has to go into surgery that he may not survive.  Charlie explains to David about his failings with dealing with his own fathers illness and how in the end Charlie’s father didn’t recognize him.  Both of these events pointed David into first saving his relationship with his dad and then staying with him during and after the surgery.  They were great small moments that lead to great big moments.

I can go on and on but its safe to say that I am a big fan of the film.  I am sure my love of the film blinds me from some of the negatives but I don’t care.  For me this film also hits home with the relationship I had with my father both the good and the bad times during my life.  I can say without a doubt that I wish I could have been there in the end but I can also say that I was glad that I had a great relationship with in the end and in that aspect have no regrets.  Which I think is the point of this story as well.

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manwithredshoeLeave it to Benn Farrell, the largest tool in the shed, to find a Tom Hanks movie that is almost as bad as Joe Versus the Volcano and then make me watch it. To be honest I have wanted to see this movie for years and by giving this to me as a challenge I was finally able to watch it.  Now that I have seen it I wish I hadn’t.  I can’t remember the last time I watched a comedy and had one chuckle and that’s it, certainly not any other film that Hanks is in.  I chuckled a couple of times in both Volcano and Dragnet.  This is a bad, bad, very bad, film.

Ross, played by Charles Durning (To Be or Not to Be,) is the CIA director and Cooper, played by Dabney Coleman (Dragnet,) who does something in the CIA, wants Ross’s job.  Cooper sets up Ross by framing one of his agents so Ross has 48 hours to exonerate himself and frame Cooper at the same time.  So Ross has one of his agents to randomly pick someone at the airport and pretend to meet this person in order to have Cooper’s agents think that he is the secret witness to save Ross at the hearing.  Ross’s agents picks Richard, played by Tom Hanks (Bridge of Spies,) who happens to be arriving at the airport wearing one red shoe, because his friends Morris, played by Jim Belushi (Red Heat,) and his wife Paula, played by Carrie Fisher (Star Wars: The Force Awakens.)  They are all musicians who play for the Washington DC symphony.  Cooper wanting to know what Richard has to save Ross sends his team of agents including the lovely Maddy, played by Lori Singer (Footloose – 1984,) to investigate, question, and eliminate Richard.  However things get complicated when we discover Paula is trying to cheat on Morris with Richard, Cooper’s agents and Ross’s agents get in each other’s wary, and despite barely meeting him, Maddy begins to fall in love with Richard.

The best scene in the movie is when the 29 year old hot Carrie Fisher is rolling around in a bed with Tom Hanks in nothing more than her very 80’s underwear.  She fills out the bra and panties quite well.  The rolling around on the bed is about 20 seconds long and its glorious but it doesn’t make for the 1 hour 31 minutes and 30 seconds of boredom.

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The one scene where I chuckled was at the beginning of act 3 when Richard, Paula, and Morris are performing for the symphony when Richard sees Maddy in the audience and starts to botch his solo performance which causes Paula to notice Richard noticing Maddy and she stops playing her flute which causes Morris to notice Paula getting jealous of Richard looking at Maddy which cause him to do a loud drum solo which aggravates the conductor so much, played by David Ogden Stiers (Better Off Dead,)to lose after the performance and storm off. That whole scene drew a couple of chuckles and maybe a smile, but that’s it, for the entire movie.

To start off on the things I don’t like, I will start with Tom Hanks. I will assume since I have never seen this in any of the over 20+ movies I have watched of his that the choice of having Hanks play Richard as this stiff, unfunny, straight man, was the decision of the director.  Hanks had already filmed both Bachelor Party and Splash where we saw Hanks be hilarious and good.  In this film he is one step away from being an emotionless actor and as stiff as a statue.  It’s like his entire body was pumped with Botox and everything was still stiff.  It is just against every other performance that I have seen of Hanks that it can’t be because of his choice.  Imagine a comedy with Robin Williams where the director tells Robin to be the straight man and just follow script, no improvisation.  That was this for Hanks.

I also believe this because every other actor in this film was just as stiff.  Ok, that’s not true, both Belushi and Fisher actually seemed like living beings in this film.  But everyone else, it seemed, were told to take their roles of super spies seriously.  My guess is that the director and writer thought the scenes of near missies would be the humor of the film. But because the actors were so stiff in their performance, the physical “comedy,” was so slow that it didn’t work.  It’s as if this movie was a spoof of the spy films and they went over too over the top so it didn’t work.  Except this wasn’t a spoof of a spy film but a comedic spy film.  Nothing worked at all.

I really can’t think of anything else to say. The only redeeming thing about this film is the near nakedness of Princess Leah.  I mean sure Lori Singer is hot as well but nowhere near good enough to make up for this bore-a-thon.  Still not as bad as Joe Versus the Volcano, but this is a close second to the worst Tom Hanks movie ever.  Even Tom Hanks said of this film, “Not a very good movie. It doesn’t have any real, clear focus to it. It isn’t about anything particularly that you can honestly understand. It made no money at all.”  Take his advice and stay away, if it every shows up, which it won’t, unless one of your closest friends is a tool and makes you watch it.  Then find a way to smite him or her.

 

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