Tuesday, 5 July 2011

America's Sweethearts?

The negative press emanating off the latest Tom Hanks film Larry Crowne could power an entire nuclear waster disposal unit for the rest of humanity's existence. It has yet to release here, so I'm not going to join in the trend. But it did make me think about Hollywood, the career of an actor or actress and the damage of the typecast.

Last night I watched A Breath of Scandal, a rather forgettable but pleasant enough oldie with Sophia Loren as a spoilt Viennese princess who falls in love with an American (John Gavin, who I can't say rings any huge bells). But to my point, La Loren pouts her way through the material looking bleached and frou-frou. If you looked closer, you could make out the rumblings of the superb actress underneath, but it was hard to tell under all that cheese. Which led me to wonder. Would we have Sophia Loren screen icon, if she had been typecast earlier in her career. I doubt it.

Tom Hanks likes to play a lovable, nice guy who sort of stumbles upon extraordinary circumstances (Splash, Big, The Green Mile, Cast Away, The Terminal), when he's not acting as a slightly slow Gump of a man (Forrest Gump), voicing a toy cowboy (Toy Story franchise), and every now and then breaking the mold (Philadelphia, Road to Perdition). He is a multiple Oscar winner and to all intents and purposes, a movie hero, an American sweetheart. Slow and steady.
So what's with his apparent lack of pulling power?

Maybe audiences, who have grown used to Tom Hanks over the years, know what they're going to get. If it's Tom Hanks, well, you know that it will probably be a good film, and it will probably have the right elements of drama and comedy, and slightly bittersweet ending.

And maybe that's enough to have them staying at home content to wait for the DVD or the TV re-run. Just a thought.

Which was your favourite Tom Hanks?

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