It would be no exaggeration to say that Tom Hanks is one of the best living actors in the world, charming and likeable and always bringing his chops to all of his roles. Everybody has a favourite – his loveable Forrest Gump, the desert survivor in Castaway, living cowboy doll Woody in the Toy Story films and penitentiary supervisor Paul Edgecomb in The Green Mile just being a few of them. However, in such a superb body of work, there are some roles that don’t quite receive the attention they deserve – in this article, I aim to highlight just a few of them.
Before Philadelphia and Forrest Gump made him the go-to guy for drama, Hanks was a full-blown comedy star (and many of those stylings remain in his work now). The ‘Burbs sees him play the straight man in a wonderfully zany world – he plays Ray Peterson, a man taking some time off in his suburban home. His vacation is disturbed when an odd new family move in down the block – investigating them, he becomes convinced they have killed a missing neighbour. It’s silly and it’s madcap, and it’s clear Hanks is having a ball.
One of Spielberg’s less popular films, The Terminal follows an immigrant named Viktor Navorski (Hanks). His country has fallen in a coup, rendering his passport and visa worthless – as such, he is trapped in the airport. Navorski is a sweet and innocent man, someone who is exactly who he seems to be and claims to be, and this virtue renders him a captivating presence to watch. Hanks also manages to play his role with an accent throughout, without it seeming a gimmick or playing it for laughs – Navorski earns natural laughs and the audience’s love.
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
This movie is utter tripe – award bait of the highest order, and I found it completely tedious to sit through. There are two minor saving graces, if you ever choose to suffer Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close – one is Max von Sydow’s almost silent turn as a mystery lodger, and the other is Hanks as our lead’s father. The father spent loads of time with his son, playing with him and challenging him with ingenious mind game before he is killed in the 9/11 attacks – his son goes on one last quest, looking for a lock that fits a mysterious key but in truth chasing his father. The film is insufferable, but seeing the look on Hanks’ face as he tries to ring home before the second plane hits will forever break my heart.
Road to Perdition
Over time, Tom Hanks came to embody the American everyman, striving to do his best and do what is right – his turn in Road to Perdition couldn’t have been farther from his reputation. Hanks is Michael Sullivan, a ruthless mob enforcer. One night, his son witnesses a murder – Sullivan’s wife and eldest son are killed in retaliation, and Sullivan is forced to flee with his other boy to keep him alive. This is Hanks with his natural warmth toned way down – he is cold and content to murder – and the sight of him playing a villainous character befits such a dark film.
The Money Pit
This 1986 film sees a young couple move into a country estate and soon become aware why the asking price was so low – the place is a dump, with doors falling off their hinges, staircases tumbling down and a bathtub coming through the ceiling. They find that, in doing it up, their relationship suffers similarly. The Money Pit was designed as a star vehicle for Shelley Long, the next big thing since Cheers, but the real star of proceedings is Hanks, whose performance gets to be more and more hysterical as the movie goes on. It’s not particularly good, but it is a very likeable movie and as is typical in a Hanks film, it is full of heart.
Saving Mr. Banks
One of the more well-known movies on this list, Saving Mr. Banks recounts the story of Walt Disney’s efforts to deal with the cantankerous PL Travers and bring Mary Poppins to the screen. As Travers, this is very much Emma Thompson’s movie, with Hanks relegated to a supporting role – however, if you need an actor to evoke nostalgia, being tough but avuncular, who better than Tom Hanks?
Turner and Hooch
They say that you should never work with animals, but Hanks is such a pro that he brings out the best in them too. Hanks is Detective Scott Turner, a by-the-books cop who inherits his best friend’s dog when his pal is killed. He realises, however, that Hooch may help him solve the murder, and attempts to adjust to life with the big dog. Turner and Hooch is a mismatched buddy movie to the extreme, often funny and good fun. Hanks’ comedy here is more understated, but it rises to the level of his best.
Featured image: http://www.muse.ca/en/the-terminal.aspx
Road to Perdition: http://www.dieselpunks.org/profiles/blogs/crime-doesnt-pay-road-to
The Money Pit: http://basementrejects.com/review/the-money-pit-1986/