The latest film from Tom Hanks, Larry Crowne, opens today. And while it doesn’t appear to be the next Big or Forrest Gump or Saving Private Ryan, it looks entertaining. You know why . . . cause Tom Hanks is a ridiculously likable guy. He’s a charming everyman who’s easy to empathize with. There’s a reason he’s frequently compared to Jimmy Stewart. So, before I head out to see Larry Crowne, I’d like to reflect on some of my favorite Tom Hanks movies.
10. Volunteers (1985) – Dir. Nicholas Meyer
The movie that makes me appreciate Bridge on the River Kwai a bit more, Volunteers is a wacky fish-out-of-water story about spoiled Ivy-League graduate (Hanks), who winds up building a bridge in Thailand after joining the Peace Corps to escape a loan shark. Hanks is great as Lawrence Whatley Bourne III, with his Locust Valley Lockjaw (think Thurston Howell or Katharine Hepburn) and his devil-may-care attitude. And John Candy is hilarious as Tom Tuttle from Tacoma Washington, as is Hanks’ wife Rita Wilson.
9. The ‘burbs (1989) – Dir. Joe Dante
Joe Dante delivers a raucous send-up of life in the suburbs and Tom Hanks is our guide in this wonderfully silly dark comedy about the neighbors from hell.
8. Cast Away (2000) – Dir. Robert Zemeckis
Say what you will about this movie . . . yes the literal and figurative crossroads at the end is a bit “on the nose.” Still, I like it. In fact, once upon a time, before the Circuit City in my hometown went out of business, Cast Away was playing in the home theater room, and I got sucked in. I sat down to check out the TV/surround sound setup for the plane crash scene and I wound up watching the entire movie in the store . . . I’m not proud of this.
7. You’ve Got Mail (1998) – Dir. Nora Ephron
Speaking of things I’m not proud of . . . I love this movie. I think it’s Nora Ephron’s best (directing-wise, writing-wise it’s gotta be When Harry Met Sally…), and I just can’t help myself. Hanks is being all likable. Meg Ryan is in top form. It’s got a great supporting cast, including Parker Posey, Dabney Coleman, and Dave Chappelle. I got my mom a copy for Mother’s Day ages ago, and I wound up watching it infinitely more times that she.
6. Catch Me If You Can (2002) – Dir. Steven Spielberg
This movie is just so much fun. Hanks, Spielberg, and DiCaprio are all at the top of their game here. Plus, Christopher Walken tells the story of the two mice who fall into the barrel of cream . . . priceless.
5. The Green Mile (1999) – Dir. Frank Darabont
Can you really go wrong when you’ve got Frank Darabont writing and directing an adaptation of Stephen King . . . I don’t think so. And of course, this movie also taught us all to remember to wet the sponge.
4. Philadelphia (1993) – Dir. Jonathan Demme
Tom Hanks + Denzel Washington + Jonathan Demme directing = amazing. Tom Hanks takes a chance, playing a gay man dying from AIDS, and wins an Oscar.
3. Road to Perdition (2002) – Dir. Sam Mendes
Again, taking a chance and playing against type, Hanks plays a terse mob hitman. No Oscar this time, but dammit all if this ain’t a great neo-noir thriller.
2. Saving Private Ryan (1998) – Dir. Steven Spielberg
This is just a great movie all-around. Just saying the title makes me want to watch it. As Captain Miller, Hanks plays the kind of soldier I’d want to lead me into battle. And Spielberg’s directing . . . come on . . . that opening invasion of Normandy scene gets me every time. I mean, is it just a guy thing a la Band of Brothers, am I alone in this or is any time a good time to watch Saving Private Ryan?
1. Big (1988) – Dir. Penny Marshall
This is one of my all-time favorite films. I used to watch it at least once a month when I was a kid.
That Thing You Do! (1996) – Dir. Tom Hanks
I love this movie and the only reason it wasn’t included in my top ten favorites is Hanks isn’t the lead.
A League of Their Own (1992) – Dir. Penny Marshall
Another movie I used to watch all the time when I was growing up, and again not in my top ten cause Hanks isn’t the lead, but he is sooooo good. This is another screenplay is by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel . . . who wrote another Tom Hanks movie, Splash, which I do like, it’s just not my favorite.
Dragnet (1987) – Dir. Tom Mankiewicz
This is a fun movie, by no means amazing, but I just really needed to share the Dragnet rap, “City of Crime,” featuring Tom Hanks and Dan Aykroyd.
What’s your favorite Tom Hanks movie? Are you planning on seeing Larry Crowne?