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Requiem for Tom Hanks
Requiem for Tom Hanks
Apparently, there's this movie that comes out tomorrow that some people don't want you to see. Supposedly, it challenges the beliefs of Christianity, which, as Kevin Smith and Mel Gibson will attest to, doesn't always sit well with some people. It is directed by Ron Howard and stars Jim Belushi in the role of...
...oh wait, sorry, that's Tom Hanks. He just looks like Jim Belushi nowadays.
Now, rest assured, I have nothing against Tom Hanks. I've never met the man, but from everything I've seen from him, he seems like a genuinely nice guy. Esquire's most recent magazine cover called Hanks "The Most Normal Guy in Hollywood," and it's probably true. (Well, except for the most disturbing head of hair since Rosie O'Donnell's mullet.) He's earned every accolade that's been given to him, and in a day and age where actors are getting more and more wrapped up in ego trips, Hanks' modesty is a refreshing change of pace. And, he came from Concord, CA, a town I lived in for a year. Really, an all-around great guy.
But man, I'd wish he'd cut back on the heavy-handed drama films he's sworn by since the mid-90s.
People tend to forget this now, but back in the 1980s and into the early 1990s, Tom Hanks was the king of "conflicted regular guy" comedy films, a toned-down version of Will Ferrell. In 1984, after a small guest appearance on Happy Days, Ron Howard took a flyer and cast Hanks in Howard's first major directorial release, Splash, also starring a young Daryl Hannah, and in a smaller role, Patrick Cronin, who later became my drama teacher in college.
Splash, along with Bachelor Party, made Hanks a star, and for the next 8-10 years, Hanks perfected the role of an ordinary guy with overblown ordinary problems in a string of winning comedy films: Volunteers, The Money Pit, Nothing in Common, Dragnet, Big (his first Oscar nomination), the overrated Turner & Hooch, the underrated The 'burbs, and Joe vs. the Volcano, all of them classics. There was the rare drama film back then (Every Time We Say Goodbye), but for the most part, he was at his best in comedy. And he even included the $$$ chick flick (Sleepless in Seattle) and the scene-stealing secondary role (A League of Their Own) in there.
Then came Philadelphia and Forrest Gump, and nothing would ever be the same.
Now, it's good for any actor to stretch his limitations and tackle a different genre. Hanks couldn't do goofy comedy forever, and more power to him. But after winning back-to-back Best Actor Oscars for the two roles, some lightbulb most have gone off in his head that said, "You will only be taken seriously in dramas," and he swore to it, because since then, he's unleashed one drama after another, with nary the good ol' comedic roles in sight.
Oh, he's done comedy since then. Just not good ones. You've Got Mail is a mealy-mouthed attempt to recapture the Seattle lightning in a bottle, That Thing You Do! was OK at best, and don't even get me started on The Ladykillers. Meanwhile, in the pursuit of that third Oscar, he's unleashed Apollo 13, Saving Private Ryan, The Green Mile, Cast Away, Road to Perdition, The Terminal, and now The Da Vinci Code on us. It's almost as if he's forgotten what a great comedy actor he is.
I guess the point is is this: I miss the old Tom Hanks. The funny Tom Hanks. The Tom Hanks who knew how to deliver a line with the necessary comedic effect. That's guy still there, he's just in atrophy. Hanks hosts Saturday Night Live quite often, so he still dabbles in comedic roles. But I would love to see Hanks give us just one more classic comedy. I know he's got one more in him. I mentioned earlier that Hanks was the Will Ferrell of his day; I'm telling you, Kicking and Screaming would not have sucked if you put Tom Hanks in that role. And as awesome as Ferrell was in Anchorman, if Hanks had played Ron Burgundy, he would have OWNED the role and made it his. I'm dead serious when I say that, too.
But looking at his IMDB filmography for upcoming releases, more dramas are scheduled for him. Such a shame, too. Because I prefer the comedic side of Tom Hanks. Watch any of those old comedies if you don't believe me.
"Today may be the first day of the rest of your life, unless you live on the other side of the International Date Line, then yesterday was the first day of the rest of your life."- Larry Andersen
5/19/2006 7:54 am
Oh yes... I love Bachelor Party, it's the Brie of cheesy movies. |