This is a perfect 9/11 movie anchored by the best child actor we’ve ever seen. That’s lie #1. And lie #2*. The story is fine and has its high points, but the kid was anywhere from just OK to awful depending on if you’re asking me or Caitlin**. The movie is an adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer’s 2005 novel about a boy with Aspergers struggling to make sense of life after his father (Hanks) died on 9/11 in the twin towers. I’d read the novel and remembered the child’s precociousness feeling more believable and less … obnoxious than in the movie. I barely remembered the movie and knew our enjoyment would rest on if we liked the kid or not. I thought he was fine and Caitlin openly detested him, so we were out on a lot of the big emotional moments that probably would have worked if we liked him. I still found the movie to be fine, but I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s not even much of a showcase for our guy Tom, though he gets a few good scenes and leaves some devastating voicemails. Still, we were so out on the kid not even Hanks dying on 9/11 could squeeze any tears out of us***.
*This is one of the little tropes of the movie — for the kid’s thoughts to narrate and for him to tell us what number lie he’s on as he goes on his mission. It’s also one of the best leads we’ve ever had on the blog. Nice work, Z.
**SERIOUSLY. Like, I really, really wanted to care about this movie. The story itself was clearly well-crafted and moving, and I could see that the bones of it were good. Everything is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer’s other novel-turned-movie, is one of my favorite movie adaptations of all time. The kid KILLS IT for me.
***And I do want to take a moment to point out here, I don’t mean that I didn’t like the character of the boy. I think that’s what hurt me even more — a child afraid to even go on the swings because he fears for his safety? A boy struggling with anxiety, and that in turn making it harder for him to interact with those around him? Be still my heart! The actor, Thomas Horn, is a TERRIBLE actor. I feel like he was chosen only because he has some super-blue eyes which are somehow supposed to blind us to all of his over-acting. His only other IMDB credits are winning Kid’s Jeopardy and a movie called Space Warriors, so draw your own conclusions. Continue reading
If this was the first movie Hanks wrote and directed, we could chalk it up to our favorite actor being outside his element. Maybe he was just meant to deliver dialogue, not write and direct it. But we’ve seen Hanks write and direct the exceptional That Thing You Do! so his failure here is harder to stomach. The formula for Larry Crowne seems like it would be charming enough*. Hanks plays a nice guy working at a Walmart-esque store who gets fired and decides to go back to college. Along the way he makes college friends with a scooter gang and falls for his teacher, Julia Roberts. But as Ebert notes in his two star review, “the screenplay carries blandness to a point beyond tedium.” We hadn’t seen this one and I was hoping the consensus was wrong, but sadly they were not. Larry Crowne is woefully boring and lacking in conflict, and even the romance stinks. Somehow George Takei as an economics professor was the only good part of this movie**.
*And, in the beginning, I’d argue it is.
**I’d sign up for Econ with George at the helm. Continue reading
Movie sequels are so often misses*. It feels like common knowledge now that franchised movies are usually just money-making machines for their parent companies, created to cash in on familiar characters and some nostalgia. When Toy Story 3 originally came out, I went in skeptically. I hadn’t enjoyed the new character of Jessie (or, looking back at my recent review, Toy Story 2 in general all that much), and it just seemed like a tired, play-out Homeward Bound** situation that I was kinda bored of. However — and I’m about to lay a fact on y’all right here — Toy Story 3 is the best picture in the trilogy. The. Best. Don’t get me wrong, it wouldn’t work without the original, and honestly I’d say it even benefitted from some additional bonding time in number 2***. But Toy Story 3 grows up with all of us who were children when the original came out. It deals with heavy topics, like mortality and relationships and self-worth, and it even allows its human characters some real, true-blue emotion. It’s absolutely amazing, so let’s get into the plot so y’all can run off and see this thing stat.
*We gave Toy Story 2 a 5.25/10 ranking.
**You know they made a Homeward Bound 2? Should we watch that? They called it “Lost in San Francisco” – essentially the same format as Home Alone 2. Still… could be good? OK, you’re right to be bored of them.
***Maybe the only good part about TS2.
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! Continue reading
It’s another decent enough entry for Hanks in this follow-up to The Da Vinci Code. We’d been putting this one off for months after not loving the first film and we were in danger of not watching this one after Caitlin was horrified just reading the parental guidance warnings for Angels & Demons*. But we sucked it up, Caitlin covered her eyes a ton and we ended up not minding this sequel. Still, it didn’t quite leave us counting the days until part three comes in October.
*Seriously. If you don’t care about spoilers, I suggest you go read them and see for yourself why I wanted to run screaming from the room. Continue reading
The only greatness in this movie is in the title. It’s more like The Decent at Best Buck Howard that Zack Kinda Liked and Caitlin Hated*. We get a lot more Colin Hanks than Tom in this movie where Colin plays the assistant to John Malkovich’s magician**. Tom produces the movie from his Play Tone production company. On paper there’s a lot of elements we’d love. You’ve got Malkovich playing a self-important past his prime magician, a lovable Colin Hanks doting on him and getting involved with Emily Blunt***. Plus small parts for Adam Scott as the fired assistant, Steve Zahn as a weirdo with a great mustache, Tom Hanks as the stern father and a bunch of talk show hosts playing themselves. Oh, and super randomly there’s Clap Your Hanks and Say Yeah playing themselves****. So, what’s not to like? Welp, even Tom’s two scenes playing his real son’s father can’t save this one from being forgettable and pointless. I actually liked it well enough, but Caitlin hated it*****. Let’s get into why…
*So, so much.
**This didn’t bother me — I’m quite a Colin fan and I think his work of late has been really fantastic. This movie just didn’t give him anything to work with.
***The least believable, most-forced couple I have ever seen.
****I’d like to pat myself on the back for this discovery. I recognized those brilliant, wide foreheads from a mile away.
*****You’ve never heard of the writer for this garbage film before. That’s because his other credits include Venomous (tagline: there is no antidote), Sonic Impact featuring Ice-T, and somehow Paul Rudd in 2 Days. This guy HAS to know somebody. Continue reading
Caitlin and I both missed this enjoyable Hanks movie when it came out and the more I read about it, the more excited I was to see it. It’s Hanks’ only movie with Philip Seymour Hoffman*, was written by Aaron Sorkin and is the last movie the great Mike Nichols ever directed**. I’d guess Caitlin shied away from it because she’s not a Julia Roberts fan*** and the word “war” in the title might have scared her off, but I have no excuse for never having seen it. I’m glad we did.
*Such a bummer, as their chemistry was really excellent.
**I didn’t realize that! I also didn’t know he was married to Diane Sawyer. Not sure how it’s relevant here but I found it interesting.