Tom Hanks Project – Film #2 – “Splash” Review

5 Nov

splash-movieI completely forgot how funny Splash was! Having not seen it in a decade, I remembered the TV glass breaking when she says her name in her language and knew John Candy was in it, but didn’t remember Candy being an absolute scene stealer and that this movie kind of rules on all levels. We went in thinking we’d have laughs in the single digits, but both laughed out loud 45 times or more each! It was shockingly funny and romantic and Hanks was terrific. It was a total surprise. I’d only seen this film once with my family long, long ago and the only part I could remember was that Darryl Hannah was naked in it quite a bit. This movie was hilarious, sweet, moving, and just a joy to watch. I’m so glad we own it now so we can watch it again and again — I think this is going to become our go-to “I need to lift my spirits” film.


Yes, that is John Candy holding a stack of Penthouses. He’s really excited that they printed his letter and he bought a copy for everyone at work. So many things about this are funnier to me now than when I saw this movie as a kid. Candy is perfect as Hanks’ older brother and lets Hanks play the straight man, which he always does best*. The movie worked great as a comedy and just as well with the romance. In one of the special features on the 20th anniversary DVD they said it was imperative that Hanks make it clear he really loved this mermaid and him pulling that off was essential to the movie working. He and Hannah had great chemistry in and out of the water and had us rooting hard for them**.

*I think my favorite thing about the Candy/Hanks relationship is, the way they present Candy as a kid, you think you’re gonna hate the little sleaze ball, but he totally has depth to him! Even though he can be an irresponsible womanizer, the love between Candy and Hanks is very apparent, and he really just has the best one-liners.

**Halfway through the film, I was already saying, “10! Write it down immediately!!” about my rating of the relationship. You yearn for these two to be together forever.

The premise of “Splash” is that when Tom Hanks is only 8 years old, he and his family are traveling to Cape Cod, and he sees a girl in the water and jumps in. He’s safe with her under the water, and they hold hands before baby Hanks is swept up by an adult and taken back to the ship. We see the girl cry and then swim away.

Flash forward many years, and Hanks now owns his father’s fruit supplier company with his brother, played by Candy. Candy usually makes bigger messes for Hanks than he actually helps the company, but he tries to take on responsibility. Hanks, on the other hand, is very organized, very sweet with his employees, but his love life is sinking fast. He’s dumped by his longtime live-in girlfriend because he hasn’t ever told her he loves her (and can’t seem to).


After Hanks attends his co-worker’s wedding, he’s more downtrodden about love than ever, so he drunkenly heads to Cape Cod to clear his head. He ends up getting dropped on the wrong beach, so he runs into some weird scientist-wannabe who refuses to help him across. He ends up paying a guy in a tiny boat to take him to the island, but the boat breaks down and the guy leaves Hanks stranded in it while he swims back to get a rescue boat. Hanks, we discover, doesn’t know how to swim, and he ends up falling out of the boat and getting his head hit on it. However, he’s suddenly rescued by a lovely blond woman who is seen walking around on the beach for a bit before she kisses Hanks and then disappears into the water.


We soon find out that the blonde is our mermaid friend from earlier, and she finds Hanks’ wallet in the sea and follows the address all the way back to New York to track him down. She’s got 6 days of full moon to be able to transform into a human, so she spends that time with Hanks, learning English from a TV at a Bloomingdale’s in an afternoon.


Since her mermaid name isn’t pronounceable in English, she and Hanks decide her name will be Madison because of Madison Ave. Zack shared with me that this caused a boatload of young girls to be named Madison in the coming years, which is pretty amazing. Anyway, she’s full of wonder at everything in this new world which is charming and sweet and just makes you fall in love with her as much as Alan does (that’s Hanks, by the way. I realize I should probably refer to him as his character name.)


Alan thinks that Madison has to leave after 6 days because of some kind of weird Visa situation, so Mr. I-love-you-phobe ends up proposing to her after just a couple of days. However, the wannabe-scientist we saw in the beginning of the film has been trailing the mermaid, and exposes her for who she really is before she has a chance to explain to Alan. The FBI show up and all hell breaks loose.

Water fountain from the movie "Splash" in Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Hanks almost abandons his love, but then his older brother lays down some truth on him about love, and as Alan stares at this amazing mermaid fountain that Madison got for him with her special mermaid-necklace, he realizes he can’t abandon her now, and he goes after her.



  • Laugh out Loud: Zack: 47 Caitlin: 45 We laughed early and often at this one, surpassing my prediction of 8 before the credits were over. It’s genuinely funny. I tried to hold back from laughing, since I’d guessed I’d only laugh three times, but quickly gave up and gave myself over to this hilarious flick. The humor is quick-witted and dead-on, with Candy really stealing the most giggles.
  • Cry: Both: 0 No real chance to cry here. We’re not sure if he’ll end up with her at the end, but it’s not drawn out in a way that would make a viewer cry. Agreed. I could see someone getting teary-eyed when Madison’s all hooked up to testing tubes (goddamn FBI! You ruin everything!) but it didn’t happen for us.
  • Cover eyes: Both: 0 It’s a PG movie, so there’s no real violence and nothing to make one cover their eyes, unless you’re watching Daryl Hannah nudity with your parents. Nothing scary here. There’s too much beauty in the underwater scenes to look away for a second.splashromantic
  • Romantic Interest: Zack: 10 Caitlin: 10 *SPOILER* When Tom Hanks jumps into the water after Madison, leaving his whole life behind to live underwater with her, Caitlin said “See! See! It’s a 10!” I was in the 8.5 to 9 range, but how can you not give it a 10 when that happens. Zack doubted that Hanks would let love win for him in the end. When the couple were on the bridge together, I knew how it was going to end, and my heart swelled.
  • Tom Hanks: Both: 8.5 Very strong Hanks performance. Understated, but funny and clever and romantic and Hanks at his best in his first starring role. We both said we could have gone higher, but know he has some truly brilliant roles coming up and didn’t want to have to invent a number higher than 10. Hanks is wonderful, but he does a lot of his high-pitched screaming in this film — he’s setting the stage for the good-guy-got-wronged in his various romcom roles with this movie, but as he ages he gets so much more subtle, so in some ways I’d give this a 10 ranking for “classic Hanks acting” and then stick with my 8.5 overall.
  • Movie: Both: 8.5 Again, this movie did it all right. It was a completely charming and funny romantic comedy that really stands up nearly 30 years later. It’s not even his best romantic comedy, so we couldn’t go higher than 8.5, but we truly enjoyed it. I’ll be interested if I change my opinion about it being his best romantic comedy or not once we watch the others. It’s hard to be “You’ve Got Mail” for me, but this one comes close.

This one is definitely worth a re-visit if you haven’t seen it in a while. I’m happy to own the 20th Anniversary DVD that’s only $6.25 on Amazon, but you can watch it online for free. Seriously, if you’re needing a pick-me-up, watch this immediately. Hannah, Hanks, Candy and even Eugene Levy are all brilliant in it. And how can you not root for these two love-birds:


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One Response to “Tom Hanks Project – Film #2 – “Splash” Review”


  1. Introduction to The Tom Hanks Project | rockloveaustin - November 10, 2013

    […] Preview | Review […]

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