Tom Hanks Project – Best and Worst of the ’00s

18 Feb

2000s collage

Tom started off the 2000’s with one of his all-time best performances in Cast Away. He won the Golden Globe and was nominated for an Oscar for it, but would go cold with awards the rest of the decade, only seeing a Globe nomination for Charlie Wilson’s War. We enjoyed much of this decade of Hanks, but it was a more up and down decade after his incredible run in the ’90s*. He made 10 films in the 2000’s. We loved three (Cast Away, Catch Me If You Can and The Terminal). We were kind of all over the place on the other seven. He took some risks in movies like The Ladykillers and Charlie Wilson’s War, went for a couple big pay days in the Da Vinci Code movies and tried multiple characters out in The Polar Express**. Some of these films worked better than others and some we’ll never watch again, but it was interesting at least. It wasn’t a great decade for romantic interests for Tom and there aren’t a lot of laugh riots in the mix, but there were plenty of movies that had Caitlin covering her eyes***. Let’s get into this eclectic decade of Hanks before we pick up on the ’10s with Toy Story 3.

*To say the least. WAY more weekends where we’d look at each other and go, “Eh…not this weekend,” when considering a Hanks viewing.

**If this helped him warm up for Cloud Atlas, which is one of my favorites of the ’10s, then I’m totally OK with it.

***The headline of the decade!

Screen Shot 2016-02-07 at 12.39.10 PM

*We laughed a lot at The Terminal. I accounted for 39 of the 55 laughs in LadyKillers**. No other Hanks movie gave us the giggle fits all decade. Sure, Road to Perdition or the Da Vinci Code movies aren’t going to be laugh riots, but a lot of the others were at least attempting humor. To underscore how little we laughed this decade, let’s look back at the 90’s chart.

*Zack made a chart. This is adorable!!

**Because this movie is garbage.

Screen Shot 2016-02-07 at 12.41.55 PM

While 87 was the most laughs of the ’00s, it would have been good enough for 7th in the ’90s. Incredibly, five movies cleared 150 laughs last decade. Even the ’80s had five movies with more laughs than The Terminal.


The scores we gave the comedy only support this evidence that it was a weak decade for Hanks hilarity. We didn’t even rate either Da Vinci movie, Road to Perdition or Cast Away and the six we did rate, well — only two got passing grades from both of us. Ouch. The ’00s were a no-laugh zone. I blame Y2K.terminal-tom-hanks

  • The Terminal: 8.4 Zack: 8 Caitlin: 8.8  A B- comedy score feels right. Definitely enough laughs to make a re-watch fun and I enjoyed myself throughout. I’d take it further than that — I really don’t remember a ten minute period that went without a laugh. Although there was a bit of slapstick, a lot of it was just adorable, situational stuff.
  • Catch Me If You Can 7.25 Zack: 7.5 Caitlin: 7 If only this was a cleverness rating. Even if funny bits like the, “Do you concur, doctor?” part aren’t laugh out loud funny, they really tickle me. I rate the comedy factor a 7 based on comedy in general, but a 10 for how perfectly the make-you-smile moments got integrated.
  • The Ladykillers: 6.75 Zack: 7.5 Caitlin: 6 It’s solidly funny throughout. It is not.
  • Charlie Wilson’s War: 6.6  Zack: 7.7 Caitlin: 5.5  Barely a comedy, but it was nominated for best comedy Golden Globe so it counts. Hanks is funny in his way and Philip Seymour Hoffman is hilarious in his intensity. Especially when breaking the windows of Hanks’ office. This was nominated for a Golden Globe in comedy?! 
  • The Great Buck Howard: 4.5 Zack: 6 Caitlin: 3 I may have laughed a lot, but this isn’t a funny movie. I don’t know what tone they were going for, but something to half watch if it’s ever on cable is what they got. I would never whole- or half-watch this piece of garbage again.
  • Polar Express: 1.75 Zack: 1.5 Caitlin: 2.0 Hanks as the angel/hobo guy was the only real humor I got from this film. God, I didn’t laugh at him at all. I really didn’t enjoy that character. I was laughing *at* the movie more than with it and I still barely laughed. 


The love was really sucked out of the 00s for Hanks. Of the 10 films of the decade, we could only even rank 4 (and one of those was Road to Perdition, so it was more like 3+a prop wife). I hope the love returns for him in the ’10s.  


Cast Away Zack: 9.5 Caitlin: 9.4 Even though you know it will be impossible, you root for Hanks and Helen to be together again. It’s definitely a pining love. He has to get home to Kelly. They have awesome chemistry and you can easily see a world where they’d be happily ever after together.

The Terminal: Caitlin: 6 Zack: 7 They had good chemistry, but ultimately you always know it isn’t going to work out and you don’t really want it to. You never really root for them to be with each other — you just root for them.

Charlie Wilson’s War: Zack: 6 Caitlin: 6 Hanks and Roberts have solid chemistry and we believe them as a couple, but we aren’t rooting for them or anything. They both serve a purpose in each other’s lives, but it’s not going anywhere. As Zack said, it’s not like we’re ever led to believe they’re going to settle down, but they have a good partnership, which I think is actually even more important in this movie than their romantic relationship.

Road To Perdition Zack: 2 Caitlin: 3 This was a big failing of the movie. We see so little interaction between Hanks and his wife that we really don’t care when she’s murdered. The only conversation between Hanks and his wife is a brief one when Hanks reveals that his older son has seen him murder a guy. His wife seems to know what’s up. That’s it. 

The Da Vinci Code For further information please contact the Sony Pictures Releasing press office.

Eye Cover

The most surprising part of this list to me is that Caitlin averted her eyes more during Cast Away, where there’s little to no violence*, than she did at the three movies below it that are full of graphic murders. I get it, though. Hanks goes through such tangible physical pain that it’s hard to watch. Bashing his dead tooth out with a rock, smashing his foot open under water**, whatever he’s going through it’s harder to watch. Partly because of how realistic it is, partly because  while all those people are murdered in the other movies, only once is it Tom getting hurt. Maybe it’s just harder to watch our boy get injured***. That’s just my opinion, though. I wasn’t the one who covered their eyes. Curious to hear what Caitlin thinks.

*WRONG. There’s the tooth extraction and the skating blade hand-cut and the friggin’ DEAD BODIES FLOATING IN THE WATER FOR CHRISSAKES.

**Oh yeah I even forgot that part.

***I’d say it’s more my intense fear of/paranoia about plane crashes.

  • Cast Away: 20 – I’ve been over this now at this point. Lots of blood and bodies and BLEH.
  • Angels & Demons: 17 – As we mentioned in our review, when I read the parental advisory on this movie before watching it, I basically didn’t want to watch anymore. Slitting throats and setting men on fire and just so much damn gore and torture.
  • Road To Perdition: 15 – Hanks is MURDERED. (Spoiler alert I guess.)
  • Da Vinci Code: 12 – That damn albino and all his damn self-flagellation.
  • The Lady Killer 3.5 – High body count in the trash boat.
  • Catch Me If You Can: 2 – I…honestly don’t remember what happened here. Vomit? Probably.



Somehow we made it the whole decade without shedding any real tears*. We both almost got there for one movie we’ve cried at before, but didn’t on this viewing. Another example of how much more we connected to Hanks last decade. We cried at six movies in the 90’s (Radio Flyer, Philadelphia, Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan, Sleepless in Seattle and The Green Mile.**) We’ve already cried more at the first movie of the 2010’s than we did all this decade***. And I have a feeling a few more are on the way.

*Damn. This is actually shocking.

**SO stacked.

***Toy Story 3 WRECKED me. But that’s a story for another day.

  • Cast Away: 1. 0.5 each All that eye-covering came at a cost, I guess. And that cost was tears.

Hanks Performance

I feel like the ’00s were overwhelmingly the decade where the Hanks name was cashed in on by smart directors. He built up so much credibility in the ’90s, so I think a lot of folks felt, hey, we’ll just put Hanks in things and that will draw crowds. Luckily, this didn’t make Hanks give any of these characters less than his all, because he’s a true actor and American hero. The only real downside was that he frequently didn’t have much of a character to work with, so sometimes we were having to grade his performance as the straight man to whatever kooky counterpart he was paired with. It’s true. He had a couple showcases, in Cast Away and The Terminal, and was spectacular in both. Otherwise it was kind of a mixed bag, but at least he took some risks.


  • Cast Away: 9.8 (Both 9.8) A singularly great performance from Tom that elevated a pretty good movie to a captivatingly great one. This is the Hanks performance that other modern-day performances are compared to. Whenever an actor has to carry a film almost by themselves, people say, “Oh, they’ll be up for an Oscar now.” That’s because Hanks got there first.
  • The Terminal: 9.3 (Both 9.3) This movie wouldn’t work with another lead, but is stirringly good and re-watchable thanks to Hanks. Seriously a gem. Hanks is believable and precious.
  • Road to Perdition: 9.05 Zack: 9.1 Caitlin: 9.0 A solid enough performance that helps anchor a strong film, but not an all-timer for Tom. I thought Hanks did really, really well in this one. He made me care about a mobster by giving his character depth.
  • Catch Me If You Can: 9.0 (Both 9.0) A strong, fun supporting role where Tom makes a great foil for Leo. Leo and Tom. When do we get this pairing again?!?
  • Charlie Wilson’s War: 8.6 Zack: 8.7 Caitlin: 8.5 An ambitious part for our guy and he pulls it off. Even the naked ass in the hot tub scene. I did NOT believe Hanks to be the full-on playboy that I think we were supposed to believe he was, but he had a solid showing.
  • The Great Buck Howard: 8.5  Zack: 8.4 Caitlin: 8.6 Much more of a footnote in this film, but also the best part because we get to see Hanks play dad to his actual son. Yeah, just a couple small scenes, but effective ones.
  • Angels & Demons: 7.5 Zack: 7.0 Caitlin: 8.0 Hanks does enough to move the plot along, but fails to elevate this movie. I disagree; I think Hanks brought subtlety to the role that lightened parts of what was otherwise a very dark film.
  • The Ladykillers: 6.8 Zack: 7.6 Caitlin: 6 Another ambitious role, but this one didn’t work. Hanks is funny, but cartoony here. This movie is garbage and Hanks is way too theater-y. This may go down as my least favorite Hanks role ever.
  • The Da Vinci Code: 6.65 Caitlin 6.8 Zack: 6.5 I’m sad Hanks will waste his talents in three of these movies. It’s not Hanks’ fault that the lead character in all of these films is so drab/one-note. He does what he can with it.
  • The Polar Express: 6.25 Caitlin: 8.5 Zack: 4 I absolutely hated all of Hanks’ parts in this Christmas movie. A complete failure. While I definitely didn’t enjoy this nearly as much upon re-watch, the first couple of times I saw this movie I was enchanted by Hanks in all of these different roles, and I quite liked his train conductor and hobo parts. Hanks as Santa was a bit silly, but otherwise, as I mentioned before, this was a mini-warm-up to Cloud Atlas and OMG ARE WE AT Cloud Atlas YET C’MON!!


And here they are — our rankings of the ’00s Hanks movies. Seeing them all back to back like this, there are no surprises here for me. Catch Me If You Can is in its rightful place at the top, and The Great Buck Trash-film is rightfully at the bottom. I do think The Ladykillers is higher than I’d rank it upon review (I’d put both Da Vincis ahead of it) but otherwise — a rocky road to what will be a better decade, the ’10s.

  • Catch Me If You Can 9.45 Zack: 9.3 Caitlin: 9.6 Hanks + Leo + Spielberg + Walken makes for a well-oiled machine that is a joy to watch. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. This movie is DELIGHTFUL.
  • Cast Away: 9.4 Zack: 9.5 Caitlin: 9.3 I adore this movie. I have never cared so deeply for a volleyball.
  • The Terminal: 9.05 Caitlin: 9.2 Zack: 8.9 An underrated one in Hanks’ catalogue. Just put Hanks in one location and put the camera on him and you’ll be entertained. I think one of my favorite aspects of this movie is watching a man figure out how to survive in an airport. The other favorite aspect is how human it is, bringing people together in a really stirring fashion.
  • Road To Perdition: 8.7 Zack: 8.8 Caitlin: 8.6 Well crafted, smart and stylish, it’s undeniably good, but no one’s favorite. Very difficult to watch, with a devastatingly frustrating ending. A good film, but not one I’m rushing to re-watch.
  • Charlie Wilson’s War: 8.6 Zack: 8.7 Caitlin: 8.5 Another forgotten gem, a travesty this is the only time Hanks and Phillip Seymour Hoffman would work together. I’ll agree with the latter part. I was ‘meh’ on this movie.
  • The Ladykillers: 7.55 Zack: 7.8 Caitlin: 7.3 Bottom three Coen Brothers movie. Hanks and some misfits … don’t come together. This was poop. I can’t believe I rated it 7.3. I must have been basing it on a comparison with Volunteers or something.
  • The Da Vinci Code: 7.0 (Both 7.0) Meh. I enjoy Audrey T. and I enjoy Hanks and I’m sad that this didn’t work as well as I’d like, but on this second viewing with Zack, I still found myself surprisingly engaged in the thriller aspect.
  • Angels & Demons: 6.9 Zack 6.8 Caitlin 7.0 Meh the sequel. I debated in my head whether I liked the sequel better or worse than the first, and ended up giving them a tie for differing strengths and weaknesses.
  • The Polar Express: 5.5 Caitlin: 7 Zack: 4 This is the only Hanks film we don’t have on DVD or Blu-Ray. I refuse to buy it. Zack just hates Christmas.
  • The Great Buck Howard: 4.7 Zack: 6.5 Caitlin: 2.9 I honestly kinda liked it. Tom is barely in it, but I enjoy Colin Hanks and John Malkovich a lot. GTFO with your wrong opinions, this is garbage soaked in squalor and I hated it with a passion. And it had a MAGICIAN.

Well, that wraps up our thoughts on Hanks in the ’00s. It may not have been the best Hanks decade, but there’s a few gems in here and a couple all-timers. T.Hanks for reading another decade of our thoughts on Tom.


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