Hanks’ Great Expectations

Greatness is a tough road to haul.

Once you do something great, people expect everything about you to be great from that point on.
Take Tom Hanks for example … he has had a few fine performances and been in some very good movies. Nobody will ever forget FORREST GUMP, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, BIG or PHILADELPHIA.

But now … everybody expects greatness. YOU’VE GOT MAIL and SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE were both entertaining, but far from outstanding – they were better suited for first dates rather than Oscars.

However, neither MAIL nor SEATTLE was meant for that pupose. I don’t think anybody expected Tom Hanks to be accepting a gold statuette for a movie that made viewers feel warm and fuzzy.

Along comes CAST AWAY. This is a movie everybody is expecting and wanting to be memorable. CAST AWAY tells the story of Chuck Noland (Hanks), who by a cruel twist of fate finds himself alone on a remote and desolate island.

“He [Chuck] survives a plan crash, then total despair for four years. It’s a story that offers high adventure, but at the same time a simple Zen-like understanding of what things in this world are truly important,” says Hanks of the film.

The movie was shot over a period of 16 months, with a one-year hiatus, which allowed Hanks to lose a significant amount of weight to depict the character’s physical deprivation.

Even the teaser shows signs of potential, telling viewers just enough to make them intrigued without giving too much away. And, the Tom Hanks/Robert Zemeckis FORREST GUMP combination has the Academy hoping for nothing less than Oscar gold.

This movie has been groomed for greatness: three Oscars – two for Hanks and one for Zemeckis; a dramatic story that reveals the strength of the human spirit; and an actor that sacrificed his appearance for the sake of the character.
With the film opening late in December, just in the nick of time to qualify for the Oscars, viewers have now been led to believe that they will receive nothing short of a cinematic masterpiece.

What’s truly been cast away though is Hanks’ movie past. Who remembers THE MONEY PIT, JOE VERSUS THE VOLCANO, VOLUNTEERS or BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES? Back then things must have been a little different for Hanks … he was just trying to entertain.

Now … he has to be great.


Brian Barsuglia

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