July 17, 2012

My Six Months With Tom Hanks

For the first half of 2012 I've been watching classic Tom Hanks films on Netflix. I had an itch for the funny, charming, young Tom Hanks of yore that we all remember. I didn't just dive in and start watching any ol' Tom Hanks movie all willy-nilly. No, there were some restrictions that I set for myself.

1.) It has to be considered a comedy.
2.) It has to be pre-Philadelphia.
3.) It has to be streaming on Netflix.
4.) I had to watch them in chronological order.

The point being I wanted to do a little reliving of the films I've seen (and to find out if they still hold up) and to watch the movies I have missed. I also hopped to see the evolution of Tom Hanks. I wanted to witness how he honed his comedy craft into something that was uniquely his and how he jumped from the crowd pleasing funnyman to becoming one of the best actors of his generation.

The short version of this post is this: Most of his early film do not hold up well.

Now, I'm not a big Bosom Buddies fan but I did like his turn as the lovably degenerate uncle in Family Ties and it was apparent back then that this guy had 80's star potential. So in 1984 (one of the best movie years ever) Tom Hanks starred in to two films, one of which was Splash. Netflix doesn't have Splash streaming, so I watched....

Bachelor Party (1984)
Bachelor Party is full of hooker jokes, drug jokes, suicide jokes and donkey show jokes. I forget if there is any racist or sexist jokes but I'm pretty sure there were. Tom Hanks plays Rick Gassko, a guy who is getting married and whose asshole friends throw him the titular bachelor party. There is a horde of hookers, an all girl rock band an ex-girlfriend, a donkey and a 80's fabulous bad guy whose car gets royally F'd up. I'm making it sound like a better movie than it is. It's movies like this that makes me wonder what went wrong with the Baby Boomer generation. 

I don't remember too much from the film except that it was interesting enough for me to sit through to the end. Notice I called it "interesting" and not "funny." The movie also spends a lot of time in the beginning with Tom Hanks and his buddies at their places of work. I'm not sure why, it doesn't make any sense and their occupations don't come back into play later in the film. If that's your cup of tea then this movie is for you.

As a kid this poster was a permanent resident on the wall of my local video store.

Tom hams it up a lot in this one but it certainly isn't one of his best roles. I'm guessing he was better in Splash. I really wish I could have started with that movie instead. 

The Man With One Red Shoe (1985) 
The Man With One Red Shoe is boring, unfunny and forgettable. In this movie Tom plays average guy Richard Drew, whom the CIA mistakenly thinks is a rouge spy informant and then comedic hi-jinks ensue! It being only one year after Bachelor party, Tom Hanks is actually looking more familiar in this movie. His witty nice guy act that he's known for is taking form here. It's this version of Tom Hanks that you will see on screen for more than a decade. Aside from that, avoid this movie. The only highlights include: Jim Belushi having the best line in the film and Carrie Fischer is in her underwear. But, if Jim Belushi has the funnest line, then it's not a real comedy.

 I told you she was in her underwear. Still not worth seeing the movie though.

Volunteers (1985) comes next chronologically and despite being available on Netflix instant streaming for forever it is was taken off before I could watch it. I could have used a little John Candy, oh well. I'll try and get back to it. So I went on to his next one...

The Money Pit (1986)
It's around this time that I start wondering how Tom Hanks became so famous. These movies were really showing their age. I saw the Money Pit when it originally came out and I remember liking the slapstick scenes of the house collapsing on itself (eg. the bathtub scene) because I was a kid and kids love that kind of crap. Now that I am an adult and understand what Tom and Shelly Long had gotten themselves into, The Money Pit is one of the most stressful comedies ever.

The scene where we Find out Tom Hanks laughing is funny.

That being said it's a pleasant enough film with a few chuckles and a young Joe Mantegna, which is a plus. The Money Pit is the first one where you can see why Tom was a leading comedic actor. The film does take a strange somber turn in the second half that made me wonder why I like it so much as a kid. I guess I never watched past the 45 minute mark. 

It was a very rocky start to my six months of Tom Hanks movies. It does dramatically improve though, in "My Six Months With Tom Hanks, Part 2" post when I cover Nothing in Common, Big, Sleepless In Seattle and more.

"I don't get it."


  1. "The Burbs" is a classic. And I think the new Ben Stiller movie moight be a ripoff.

  2. Wheres part 2? :(