Tom Hanks Project – The Best & Worst of the ’80s

10 Feb

Hanks Collage

It’s been a fun start to the Tom Hanks Project. We’ve watched 13 movies, most of which we’d never seen before. The goal was to not have to worry about what movie we’d watch every weekend*. We’d just watch the next Hanks and know everything would be just fine. It pretty much was. Even if there were a few clunkers in there**It was a promising, but uneven decade for Tom. He made one great film (“Big”) that is nearly flawless. He had five we’d highly recommend. We knew “Splash” was a delightful love story and “Turner & Hooch” and “The Money Pit” had great physical comedy, but “Nothing in Common,” and “Punchline”? We didn’t see those gems coming. On the other hand, if we never see “Dragnet,” “Volunteers***,” “Bachelor Party” and “The Burbs” again, it’ll be too soon.

*I think it was more than that — I had started talking to Zack more and more about my deep love and admiration of Hanks, and he spawned this brilliant plan as a way for us to become Hanxperts, as well as a fun series for the blog.

**”Clunkers” is being generous. There were some bed-shits in here, folks.

***Shiver. The name of this film gives me “oh god no” flashbacks. Just a terrible, terrible film.

Tom had a lot of love interests this decade, but none better than the one that caused him to leave society and live with a mermaid under water. Not sure he’ll ever beat that*. On the other hand, a frustrated married man with a kid in “The Burbs” was about as low as he’ll get. We have to hope. We had a lot of laughs, but found out that the amount of laughs wasn’t an accurate gauge of how funny the movie was. Too often we were laughing AT a movie, not with it, so we’re re-calibrating that for the 90’s and beyond. We thought crying would be a fun category, but after only one cry in 13 movies, we may need to scrap that**. On the other hand, Caitlin’s four eye covers during the PG “Turner & Hooch” ensured we’ll be keeping that around. Let’s get into the best and worst of everything ’80s with some data, and wrap-up this first decade of Hanks.

*Please. He hasn’t even met Meg Ryan yet! “You’ve Got Mail,” folks. “You’ve Got Mail.”

**Noooooo!! I like to cry! Sometimes!


The Movies

Average: 6.09 I imagine this will be the lowest rated decade of Hanks. It’s a little better than 50-50 with ’80s Tom, since there were six movies we’d definitely recommend, three we could go either way on and four we just despised. 

Best: Big 9.8: This is the movie that got us to buy a Blu-Ray player*. The 25th anniversary is chalk full of special features that we ate up with glee. The deleted scenes were better than most scenes in other Hanks ’80s fare. We can’t get enough “Big.”

*And by “us,” Zack means himself, after he’d already bought a bunch of Hanks on VHS (some of which were duplicates of DVDs we already had). His all-in attitude toward this project has been adorable.

  • We Recommend: Splash, Turner & Hooch, Nothing in Common, Punchline, The Money Pit
  • Take it or Leave it: Every Time We Say Goodbye, The Man With One Red Shoe, He Knows You’re Alone
  • Never Again: The Burbs, Bachelor Party, Dragnet

Worst: Volunteers: 2.75 I get angry just thinking about this movie. He’s re-uniting with Candy after their brilliant chemistry in “Splash” and in real life falling in love with Rita Wilson on the set and somehow it’s a total disaster. Candy, more than anything, is what ruins this film for me (a sentence I never dreamed I’d type out). Honestly, he’s just insufferable. Without him, this would still be a bad film, but “Dragnet” would take the “worst” crown easily.

Biggest Surprise: Nothing in Common We walked in with no expectations, and came away with a sweet film that we enjoyed on every level. Hanks’ best relationship with his parents, a great love triangle* and some terrific work all around in a surprisingly dense film. Still, why that horse montage? Why?!

*Hanks, the CEO’s daughter, and the horse! (Just kidding.)


Hanks Performances: Average: 7 We have “Big” as the stand-out performance, of course, but Hanks turned in a number of strong acting jobs. 

  • Best: Big: 9.8 Tom’s only best actor nomination of the decade was very much deserved. Playing a child in an adult’s body without letting it get cheesy or groan-worthy* is an accomplishment in and of itself. That he was able to make it a sweet, tender, funny and vulnerable movie is something special. He absolutely carried one of our all-time favorites. *Or super, super creepy.
  • Worst: The Burbs: 4 Hanks was shockingly unlikable in this one. He’s a terrible husband, a lousy father and a really shitty neighbor. Now, Hanks being unlikable isn’t the problem here. He had unlikable stretches in “Punchline” and was no peach in “Volunteers,” but he wasn’t even interesting or funny and we never bought in. Shocking that he turned in this performance soon after “Big.” I’d stand up for him by saying the part was stupid to begin with, but I really do think Hanks also just phoned it in, especially when you compare him with Bruce Dern.

The Rest: Turner & Hooch: 9.35, Nothing in Common: 8.55, Splash: 8.5, The Money Pit: 8.25, Punchline: 7.7, Every Time we Say Goodbye: 6.85, He Knows You’re Alone: 6.5, The Man With One Red Shoe: 6.25, Volunteers: 5.75, Bachelor Party: 5.25, Dragnet: 4.25


Laughs:  A laugh total is fun to keep track of, but it doesn’t quite capture the actual funniest movies. Sure, the top two and bottom two are the same, but the middle gets all jumbled up when we can go back and rank based on how we feel, not just “amount of laughs.” We may have laughed at “Bachelor Party” and “Dragnet” a lot, but they are not effective comedies. I still think we should continue counting laughs, in addition to ranking films’ comedic worth. It’s a solid enough barometer to help us figure out approximately how funny a film is. Oh, we definitely will. Just adding the 1-10 on Comedy as well.

  • Most: Big: 131 
  • The Rest: The Money Pit: 115, Bachelor Party: 103, Nothing in Common: 101, Turner & Hooch: 99, Splash: 92, Dragnet: 92, Punchline: 83, The Burbs: 78, Volunteers: 65, The Man With One Red Shoe: 51
  • Least: (Tie) He Knows You’re Alone & Every Time We Say Goodbye: 17 

Comedy: Here’s our re-ranking, 1-10, which we’ll be doing for each movie moving forward.

  • Big: 9.3 “I get to be on top.”
  • The Money Pit: 8.8 8.7 Almost all physical comedy, but it plays well.
  • Splash: 8.5 8.8 John Candy is Hanks’ best (and worst) co-star of the ’80s. I’d say this is above “The Money Pit” in terms of comedy. I laughed so hard at this brilliant and sweet little movie. Yeah, I’ll agree. “Splash” was more genuine laughs.
  • Turner & Hooch: 8.3 It’s the saddest movie, but also has lots of over-sized dog humor.
  • Nothing in Common: 7.5 Surprisingly witty and fun. We laughed with it for the most part, but at the horse scene. 
  • Punchline: 7.3 The stand-up is rarely funny, but the movie consistently is.
  • The Man With One Red Shoe: 6.5 That wacky Jim Belushi and Carrie Fisher couple sure are a hoot.
  • Bachelor Party: 5 The donkey OD’s on cocaine and pills. We were split on whether this was funny or not. Guess who thought it was funny, and who didn’t.
  • The Burbs: 4.5 Well, Bruce Dern was funny and there was a funny dog, but no, this movie isn’t funny.
  • Dragnet: 3.5 I want to write something, but all I can think about is how much I dislike Dan Aykroyd in this.
  • Volunteers: 3 Why, John Candy, why?! Why did you erase all that goodwill from “Splash”?
  • He Knows You’re Alone: 2 I laughed quite a bit at this horror movie. So-bad-it’s-funny laughs. 
  • Every Time We Say Goodbye: 1 This movie made zero attempts to be funny. I laughed at her cousin.

Funniest Hanks Experience: Hanksgiving We laughed a combined 440 times at Hanksgiving by my count. That’s more than Big, The Money Pit and Splash combined. We couldn’t recommend this show more thoroughly and I’m hopeful Caitlin will be up for going every year, or at least every other year. I definitely am. Those Master Pancake dudes know what they’re doing.


Romantic Interest: 

Best: Splash: 10 Caitlin was more or less chanting “10! 10! 10!” by the end of this one. Madison so completely overwhelms Tom that he goes from being unable to swim to MOVING UNDERWATER to be with her. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is. It makes me feel a little less imposing for suggesting that Zack and I might move to NYC one day;) I bet the rent’s cheaper underwater.

Worst: The Burbs: 1 Ugh, the worst return of a co-star since John Candy dive bombed his way into “Volunteers.” Carrie Fisher and Tom Hanks borderline detest each other in “The Burbs.” It’s supposed to have a romantic ending for them, but we didn’t buy it at all. It’s shocking to me that two actors as wonderful and attractive as these two would just have zero chemistry in both movies they’re in together, but there it is. None whatsoever. Stick to Han Solo, Fisher.

Also of note: Hanks doesn’t even really have a love interest in Dragnet, and he makes out with his future mom, Sally Field, in “Punchline.” I also want to point out how damn adorable he and the vet are in Turner and Hooch.

The Rest: Turner & Hooch: 9, Nothing in Common: 8.15, Big: 8, Every Time We Say Goodbye: 8, The Money Pit: 7.75, Volunteers: 6.25, Bachelor Party: 6, He Knows You’re Alone: 5.75, The Man With One Red Shoe: 5.75, Punchline: 3.5, Dragnet: 2


Eye Cover:

Most: He Knows You’re Alone: 15 Caitlin’s eyes were covered for a lot of the first movie we watched, with the blanket wrapped around her head tightly. It was more than any other movie we saw combined. Though, to be fair, I think she was in the 30s when we saw “Captain Phillips,” but we’re still a ways away from that. Oof. Captain Phillips. I have no words, I’m just sitting here at my computer shaking my head. It’s a doozy. Just wait ’til “Saving Private Ryan.”

The Rest: Turner & Hooch: 4, The Burbs: 2, Volunteers: 1, Dragnet: 1, Punchline: 1

Eyes Wide Open: Splash, Bachelor Party, The Man With One Red Shoe, The Money Pit, Nothing in Common, Big

Times Cried:

Caitlin only cried during “Turner & Hooch” and even then, only on the first viewing, before The Tom Hanks Project even started. On that note, we’re going to only note if one of us cries and just not mention it otherwise. Seems like a waste of time. The 90’s do have a few tear jerkers (even I cried at “The Green Mile”, “Philadephia” and “Forrest Gump”) so maybe we’ll end up bringing it back*, but until further notice, we’ll only mention tears if they happen. Next week we’ll watch the A&E Biography of Tom and then start the ’90s strong with our first viewing of “Joe vs. the Volcano”!

*I’m going to be a big sobbing mess whenever “Cast Away” happens. WILSONNNN!!!!

Miss a post? See All Tom Hanks hosts here


One Response to “Tom Hanks Project – The Best & Worst of the ’80s”


  1. Introduction to The Tom Hanks Project | rockloveaustin - February 12, 2014

    […] 1980′s Best & Worst Recap […]

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