A cartoon cowboy, an astronaut, an FBI agent chasing a criminal, a widowed dad looking for love, coach of a women’s baseball team, a fully grown child, a U.S. congressman, a train conductor, and (soon) Walt Disney. These are just some of the roles played by Tom Hanks. I’ve said it before: Tom Hanks is a national treasure. I’d even go as far as to say he’s one of my favorite actors, and I never choose favorite actors. I’d list the reasons why, but I’m sure people have better things to do today like head to a BBQ. Instead, to honor my favorite national treasure on Independence Day, I present my 5 favorite Tom Hanks roles. Trust me, this was a hard one.
Catch Me If You Can, 2002, FBI agent Carl Hanratty
Catch Me If You Can is the autobiographical story of Frank Abagnale played by Leonardo DiCaprio. He commits a serious of frauds, and is being chased by FBI fraud agent, Carl Hanratty. The film has an all star cast including Hanks, DiCaprio, Christopher Walken, Amy Adams, Martin Sheen, and James Brolin. It’s an exciting film to watch, and it’s pretty fascinating since it’s a true story. Carl is ridiculed by others in the FBI because they don’t consider check fraud to be all that important. Hanratty is outsmarted by Abagnale multiple times, but Hanratty is persistent and eventually gets the man. Leo, you’ll get your Oscar eventually. Keep the faith.
Toy Story (1, 2, & 3), 1995-2010, Sheriff Woody
This one doesn’t feature Tom, but his voice, so it still counts. When I was younger, Disney movies were a huge deal. My family loved them, and we always got to see them in the theaters sometimes even multiple times. Toy Story was no exception. Toy Story was Pixar’s coming out party and they were ready to take animation by storm. Toy Story is about a group of toys who belong to a boy named Andy. They come to life when humans aren’t around, and I really don’t need to explain the plot. I’ll be honest, Toy Story is one of those series of films that can completely wreck a child. I don’t even want to bring up Toy Story 3. It can wreck my entire day. These movies are great, and the audience doesn’t even need to be a child to enjoy them. One thing I found completely terrifying at age 8 is my toys coming to life. Thinking my toys could be alive when my sister & I left the room was scary and yet completely unrealistic. It made me feel terrible about the time my sister slammed my Ken doll’s head in the door and it fell off.
That Thing You Do!, 1999, Mr. White
Not only did Tom Hanks have a role in this movie, he wrote and directed it. I saw this one in the theaters, and instantly I was obsessed. Tom Hanks isn’t even my favorite part of this movie, but he’s still great as Mr. White. Mr. White manages a one-hit wonder band whose hit “That Thing You Do” is climbing the Billboard Top 100. The Wonders begin as talent show contest winners, become an opening act, and suddenly a feature attraction. They even get to be in a major motion picture: Weekend at Party Pier where they play Cap’n Geech & The Shrimp Shack Shooters. Mr. White does everything to make them famous and successful until eventually they emplode on themselves. Lenny is hands down the star of this movie. His lines are the best and most quotable. It’s very hard not to say Cap’n Geech & The Shrimp Shack Shooters when someone asks me what my favorite band is. There’s nothing I hate about this movie. I could watch it forever and ever, but for now I’ll be in my room writing my hit song, “Alone in My Principles.”
Forrest Gump, 1994, Forrest Gump
When I was younger I owned Forrest Gump on VHS. It was a two tape VHS, and it took 9 hours to watch. Okay, maybe not 9 hours, but Forrest Gump is a long movie. Forrest is endearing and lovable. Forrest Gump is a true classic. The music tells the story almost as much as the movie itself. I absolutely love the soundtrack. Another thing I love is Forrest interacting with old historical film reels as if he was really there. He just was a magnet for historical events. One of my favorite scenes, is when Forrest brings Lieutenant Dan ice cream. It’s hard not to say it when eating ice cream. I find myself quoting Forrest Gump more frequently than I should, and not just life is like a box of chocolates. Don’t take me anywhere shrimp is served or I’m going to become Bubba and name types of shrimp. This movie is quite emotional. At the risk of sounding like a total loser, it brings me to tears every time. Without fail, when little Forrest Jr. boards the bus to school, tears start flowing like a baby. Tom won an Oscar for this role, and it was well deserved.
You’ve Got Mail, 1998, Joe Fox
What? How could any movie be better than Forrest Gump? Let me explain. You’ve Got Mail is one of my favorite movies of all time. I watch this movie all the time so naturally I’m biased. I never get sick of it. Joe Fox owns the Costco of booksellers. He’s building a superstore around the corner from a little shop owned by Kathleen Kelly. She leads a crusade against Joe Fox and his store meanwhile chatting with him through e-mail the entire time. Everything seems to magically work out, and I love it. It also has an amazing placement of AOL. Watching it now even brings back the memories of logging on and waiting patiently for the man to say you’ve got mail. Unless, of course, someone picked up the phone and kicked you offline. I’m looking at you, everyone in my family in 1998.
There it is. My favorite Tom Hanks roles. He’s made so many great ones it’s always hard to choose which I love the most. It’s constantly changing.
Have a great 4th of July, fellow Americans. Non-Americans, have a great Thursday.