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Archive for the ‘Tom Hanks’ Category

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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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.

bonfiremg

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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dragnetI have a friend named Reed who is kind of a tool but also one of the most decent humans on the planet. When it comes to movies he and I disagree on a lot of things.  For example I enjoy movies made after 1980 and in general he believes cinema died after it.   One thing that I do that drives him nuts is when I say things like, “That movie is awful, but fun to watch so it’s good.” An example would but Hot Tub Time Machine.  I mention this because back when I saw this film in the 80’s I would have said the same thing about Dragnet, awful but fun to watch so it’s good.  I haven’t seen this movie since I sold my VHS copy of this to a pawn shop sometime in the 90’s, I decided to buy the three pack DVD set of Tom Hanks 80’s comedies on Amazon that included this film Dragnet, The Money Pit (which I already had so now I have 2, who wants one?,) and The ‘Burbs.  I bought it because it’s cheap and this month is our dedication to movies with the great Tom Hanks in them.  Well now that I am older and a little bit more grown up I have watched this film again and I no longer believe that it’s fun to watch so it’s mostly just bad now, which is sad.

Dragnet is a remake/homage to the 1950’s and 60’s classic TV show starring Jack Webb.  In the movie, his nephew Sargent Friday, played by Dan Aykroyd (Pearl Harbor,) and his new partner Pep Streebek, played by Tom Hanks (The Money Pit,) are investigating a string of robberies where the culprits leave calling card with the name PAGAN on it.  As they continue to investigate Friday and Streebek discover that the PAGAN group is not only interested in stealing cars but a far more nefarious goal that includes leaders of the religious community and the police department.

This movie doesn’t work because of its one main gag and that is it tries to satire a TV show that was silly to 1980’s audience but was treated as a serious police drama back in the 1950’s.  The writers of the movie, which include Aykroyd, took all of the mannerism of Jack Web as Joe Friday one step too far.  This can be seen when Aykroyd, as Friday, would do odd things like point to the obvious door in the building or repeat out loud what can easily be read or when reading off a law that was broken Friday would list all of the numbers with points.  But not just say Penal code 136.4 but Penal Code 145.876.2.4.1. Basically even though it seems that the TV show is ripe for mocking, the direction they went in this film was wrong.  You can’t treat the old TV show with awe and respect and turn around and mock it at the same time.

The only reason this movie is funny at all is because of Hanks.  He is the wise cracking funny man to Aykroyd’s straight man Friday.  There are many scenes that he makes tolerable and the best way to describe him in this film would be if you take his character from the movie Bachelor Party and turned him into a cop who is a smart guy who likes to have a good time that is witty and has great timing in delivering the comedy.  This movie also, in some way, was the beginning of the end as Dan Aykroyd being a bankable comedic actor. After this film he was in no real successful comedy that he was the star in.  He had some mild success in The Great Outdoors but that’s it.  He did much better in drama’s such as Driving Miss Daisy, and Chaplin.  This, too me, is kind of sad because he very much wanted this movie to succeed because he was a big fan of the TV show and it was a dream of his to make this movie.  But while his heart was willing his acting and writing made it impossible to like this film.

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The ending is something that I used to love as a kid but now I look at it and ask myself what the hell was I thinking?  After the police had showed up to stop the mass gassing of the soft core porn owner, Jerry Caesar, played by Dabney Coleman (Wargames,) the mastermind of the whole plan, Reverend Whirley, played by Christopher Plummer (Syriana,) had escaped with his hostage and Friday’s love interest Connie Swail, played by Alexandra Paul (Christine,) and had made it to the airport and flew off in a private jet just as Friday and Streebek arrive.  So it looks like the reverend will make it to Mexico as the plane is flying south in daylight when he looks over and sees an F-15 fighter plane that belongs to the LAPD and Friday is sitting in the back looking at Whirley, shaking his head and pointing down as the old school Dragnet them plays in the background.  Now as a kid I loved this scenes just because I thought it was awesome that they had an F-15 and that they would blow them out of the sky if he didn’t land.  What can I say?  I was a dumb kid who loved the military.  But now I think why would Whirley concede and land at the airport because he should have known that as long as the hostage was in the airplane there is no way they would shoot it down.  Plus the reverend had escaped late at night/early morning but in the dark.  Los Angeles isn’t that far from Mexico so it seems odd that it was bright daylight when the F-15 caught up to the leer jet.  How is possible that he is not in Mexico at this point which would make him free?  I guess I should suspend my disbelief but Im old now at it gets harder and harder.

This is not a good movie.  Of all of the Tom Hanks films, I only have Joe Versus the Volcano as the film that has Hanks in it that is worse than Dragnet.  Although I hate A League of their Own so much that I would say it’s close to this one.  The movie didn’t work and is sad on many levels.  I will say I was nice to see Harry Morgan in the film reprising his role for the TV show, even in a minor capacity.  Rarely will I ever say that Reed is right when it comes to movies, however this is the one rare time he is right.  This is bad.  I would say skip this but there is no chance that this movie would come up on cable TV of any kind.  Unless they do a bad 80’s comedy marathon but why would they do that?

P.S.  I almost forgot, during the end credits you get to hear Tom Hanks and Dan Aykroyd rap to a 80’s rap song about the movie.  That may be the one reason to watch this movie just so you can hear that.

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sullyWhen I saw the trailer in this film I was surprised to see that there was some question as to how Captain Sullenberger cannot be viewed anything other than as a hero. So needless to say I was sure I wanted to see this film when it came out.  What I saw was a very good film by director Clint Eastwood and actor Tom Hanks who both somehow make a movie about an investigation into an airplane accident both compelling and interesting.

On January 15, 2009 US Airways Flight 1549 Captained by Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger, played by Tom Hanks (Inferno,) suffered a bird strike in both engines and suffered power failure.   Being unable to fly to any area airport, Sully and his co-pilot Jeff Skiles, played by Aaron Eckhart (Battle: Los Angeles,) both guide the passenger jet into a controlled water landing on the Hudson River in New York City.  Even though the though there were no deaths and the landing considered a success and miracle in the public eye, both pilots are having to fight for their professional careers as the initial investigation by the NTSB suggests that the pilots could have made it back to the airport and therefore were at fault for the landing the plane in the Hudson.

The story is really interesting on a couple of different levels.  Right away you discover that Sully is going through PTSD as the opening scene shows a different ending to the plane flight when you see Flight 1549 fly right into a few buildings in midtown Manhattan.  We then see Sully looking out a window and you can see the look of a realization that maybe that should have happened as opposed to him saving the plane.  Tom Hanks, as usual, does a magnificent job of showing the emotion in these scenes and there are more than a few.  To me it seemed to coincide with the NTSB investigation that was trying to tell him that he had enough time to fly the plane back to the airport and he needlessly put these people in harm’s way.  It was also surprising how combative the NTSB investigation turned out to be if the portrayal in the film is close to being spot on.  In the movie it showed that the NTSB was definitely trying to pin the accident on the pilot.  They constantly kept referring to how the computer simulation showed the plane could have made it back to the original airport, La Guardia.  At the beginning of the investigation all Sully had was his belief and his experience flying the plane.  As the investigation went on you can see how the constant questions being asked of Sully was starting to erode Sully’s belief that he did the right thing.  I thought there was a great and touching scene where Sully made a phone call to his wife, Lorraine, played by Laura Linney (Man of the Year,) where he seriously doubted himself and his wife tried to reassure him but was also scarred and worried about him.  All these things added up to a gripping story that was really good because when you know the outcome of an event it can be hard to pay attention when the bulk of the “actions” are hearings and interviews.

As I said earlier, Hanks was magnificent in his role as Sully.  He was great showing the pain he was going through as he was constantly replaying the flight in his head and watching his plane crash.  As a whole I thought the rest of the cast did a fine job.  I liked how Aaron Eckhart, who played the co-pilot, was the counter to Sully in that he was much more confident that Sully did the right thing landing in the Hudson. Laura Linney had a small part in the film but she was very good as the worried wife and did have a great scene when she was talking to Sully on the phone realizing that the accident could have been much worse and that he was on that plane.  Up to that point she had wanted to know when he was coming home and wanting the publicity to end as the camera crews were outside their house beind somewhat selfish acting as if she was going through more issues than he was now that he was safe.  The realization that she could have lost him was cathartic.  The other actor I would like to point out is Mike O’Malley (Concussion) who plays the lead NTSB investigator Charles Porter.  Porter was the most aggressive of all of the investigators in trying to pin the crash on Sully.  The final scene with the public hearing was great in that you could see the pride that Porter had in proving Sully was at fault when the human simulation showed that Sully had the time to land at the airport.  And his pride quickly went to shame when he allowed for a second human simulation but with a 35 second delay in the pilots reaction.  The 35 second delay was asked by Sully because he pointed out that after the bird strike the pilots didn’t immediately think to fly back to the airport but to try and fix the problem first.  When Porter conceded to that and added the seconds, and neither human simulation made it to either airport possible, O’Malley was great in showing the shame that Porter must have had by doubting Sully.  O’Malley seems to be good at playing jerks because he was a big one in the movie Concussion.  Overall the film was very well acted.

Although it’s brief, I would like to mention how great a job Clint Eastwood did directing the film even though that doesn’t come as a big surprise.  His pacing of the film made it surprisingly suspenseful even though the bulk of the story revolved around the interviews and hearings of the accident as well as Sully trying to deal with it.  He also did a great thing, maybe it was the screenwriter as well, but we never got to see the full incident take place until the final act of the movie.  We were given bits and pieces but he saved the entire accident for when it would be most effective.  What made it even better was that before that as we were watching the film we were given different scenarios that all ended up horribly bad.  I told a friend of mine that if you are afraid of flying this movie could mess with you a little bit because of all of the realistic crashes into the city.  It was a fine film and he deserves as much as the credit as the actors, and the screen writer as well.

This is a wonderful film and is easily in my top ten films of 2016.  I can’t really find any fault with the film and it exceeding many of my lofty expectations for a film starring Tom Hanks and directed by Clint Eastwood.  If the movie is still playing in a theater near you I highly suggest you go and watch it because it belongs in the conversation of best films of 2016.

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moneypitWell my friend Benn Farrell decided that the theme for November 2016 movies will be the movies of one of the best American actors of my generation, Tom Hanks. The great thing about Hanks is that before he was a great dramatic actor, he was the one of the 80’s funniest comedic actors.  One of his funnier movies in the 80’s was the classic The Money Pit where he and actress Shelly Long take on a house.

Walter Fielding, played by Tom Hanks (Sully,) is a lawyer who has been screwed over by his own father, who is also a lawyer, when his dad steals money from all of their joint clients and runs off to Brazil.  He is forced to live with his longtime girlfriend Anna, played by Shelley Long (The Brady Bunch Movie,) and that place they are living is at her ex-husbands downtown New York Apartment.  Unfortunately, Max, played by Alexander Godunov (Die Hard,) is coming back from Europe and they have to get out.  They decide to take a chance on a house in the suburbs that is cheaper than it should be.  Soon they find out that everything that is could be wrong with the house is wrong with the house and both Walter and Anna have to deal with the house and the contractors fixing the house and Anna’s ex-husband while they are waiting for the house to get fixed and keep their relationship together.

This movie reminds me of how awesome Tom Hanks is as a comedic actor.  His physical comedy with regards to what happens to the house as he starts fixing it causes me to giggle.  Especially when he rings the doorbell and it shocks him and when he hits his hand with the hammer his face is priceless both times.  Also he has one of the best movie laughs in history.  It happens when Walter and Anna are pouring water into the bathtub and the tub falls through the floor of the second story bathroom and hits the ground floor.  It is absolutely hilarious.  His comedic timing is perfect between himself and Shelley Long during the big fight scene.  They are being verbally abusive to each other and its amazing watching him not miss a beat in the entire confrontation.  No big surprise, he is the star of the show.

But I would be remiss not to mention two other characters in the film that helped make it a great funny show, the house and the contractors.  The house is a wonderful nemesis to Walter and Anna.  It is wonderful in helping test their relationship.  It slowly builds from when the front door falls off, to when the staircase collapses, to the fireplace and on and on.  It is really fun to see how the house comically destroys the two. The best scene with the house is the chain reaction scene which is somewhat synonymous with their relationship.  I also mentioned the contractors as the other character in this film and I specifically mention the group as a single character.  The owners of the company are a bunch of brothers named Shirk and we only see them once individually but they are all fun to watch but Art Shirk, played by Joe Mantegna (Godfather III,) is the best.  He hits on Anna and constantly makes sexual innuendos about carpentry.  But he was just the start.  Look at the contractors and you will see a motley crew of individuals you would expect to see at a carnival.  Walther’s interaction with them is enjoyable to watch every time the scene switches to the house.  These two characters help make the movie funnier.

I also want to mention the character Max played by Alexander Godunov.  Godunov played the role of the egotistical conductor very nice.  He constantly is begging Anna to come back to him but also shows how self-centered he is and showing why she left him in the first place.  He is also is the tipping point in the relationship between Walter and Anna by tricking Anna into thinking she cheated on Walter with him while he was out of town.  I enjoyed Godunov in this film.  I remember him more as the main henchman in the movie Die Hard and was once a talented dancer but his personal demons were too much and he committed suicide a few years after Die Hard.  So its nice to have him in this film in a role that is different than his Die Hard film.

I have failed to have mention Shelly Long in this film and I need to do so because I do not want to sound like her role was insignificant.  However, while I find that she did nothing bad at all in the film she stood out to me in no particular way.  She was the perfect foil to Tom Hanks as the romantic lead.  She reminded me of her role in the long running 80’s TV show Cheers.  She was funny and charming with a little fight in her.  But the fact that she doesn’t stand out almost bothers me.  She left Cheers for a movie career and this is almost the highlight of her film career.  As much as I love this movie, that’s not good.  For what its worth she is entertaining in this film.

This is one of those great 80’s comedies that remind me of my childhood because its silly, pointless and funny.  It also goes to show how awesome Tom Hanks was as a comedic actor in the 80’s and it makes me wonder why he really hasn’t done one now.  But then again there aren’t a lot of great comedies being made in today’s cinema so maybe that’s why.  If you haven’t seen this film please watch it and prepare to chuckle.

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