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Is Tom Hanks a great actor, or just a likeable one? It’s a question that crossed our minds this week as we revisited Robert Zemeckis’ 2000 survival drama Cast Away. The movie reunited Hanks and Zemeckis for the first time since Forrest Gump netted them both Oscars, and was another critical and commercial success – scoring Hanks his fifth (and to date final) Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.
There’s no question that Hanks is a talented and appealing screen presence, but re-watching Cast Away it’s hard to ignore the suspicion that the film plays to some of his worst instincts as an actor. He’s always been prone to a degree of hamminess in his performances – parts of his famous turns in Forrest Gump and particularly the well meaning but dated Philadelphia are pure gouda. In Cast Away, he’s alone onscreen for much of the film, and he compensates with a full-volume performance that borders on exhausting. There’s a reason the film is best remembered today for his campy screaming at an inanimate volleyball.
That said, without the manic energy Hanks brings to the film, it’s arguable that Cast Away wouldn’t have very much to recommend it at all. Bizarre choices such as not showing Chuck Noland’s ultimate rescue or rehabilitation at all leave the second half of the film feeling soapy and aimless. A then-ubiquitous Helen Hunt is wasted in a paper thin girlfriend role, cruelly punished by the movie in order to give the Noland character one last moment of Hanks-ian nobility.
Here at Beyond The Box Set, we expect more from a desert island movie than mopey melodrama, so we decided to course correct with two very different ways to pick up the thread from the original movie, one exploring Chuck Noland’s post-island life as a celebrity survivor, and the other recasting the original movie with some familiar characters…
Harry’s Pitch | Cast Away: Weed Island
John’s Pitch | Cast Away 2: Wilsonism
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