Cast Away (2000)
Main cast: Tom Hanks (Chuck Noland), Helen Hunt (Kelly Frears), Nick Searcy (Stan), Chris Noth (Jerry Lovett), and Lari White (Bettina Peterson)
Director: Robert Zemeckis

I may be the only one with this opinion, but Tom Hanks plays nobody onscreen but himself. Or rather, the image he peddles in monotonuos repetition: the clean-cut, noble wholesome all-American hero with a token one-dimensional flaw which will be erased by the last minute of the movie. Cast Away is Hanks' newest condescending Deepak Chopra moment. If 1999's The Green Mile made a White brother lording over a Black wronged brother something an audience should be happy about, this one tells that a 50-month stay at a deserted island is a pretty cool way to lose weight and become a bronzed muscular Survivor of the Wilderness.

So let us all head for some remote island and starve, shall we?

Tom Hanks plays Chuck, a Fed-Ex systems analyst who is obsessed with schedules and keeping up with his well-planned daily schedule down to a tee. The always lifeless and dull Helen Hunt plays his long-suffering girlfriend called Helen Hunt, sorry, Kelly. One day Chuck delays his proposing to Kelly in favor for a "quick trip" to Tahiti. The Gods punish this man by sinking the plane.

Chuck is the sole survivor, and I spend the next hour or two seeing him eat. Hunt fish. Sleep. Talk to Helen's photo. Talk to a volleyball he called Wilson - hey, isn't Hanks' wife Rita Wilson? Is he trying to tell me something? After the adrenaline rush that is the plane crash, the movie reveals its true colors: it is a Mother Earth preachfest crap in disguise!

And it's dreadfully condescending, played in smirky "Damn, I know you think this is good, yeah?" knowingness by Hanks, as he blathers and not-too-subtly demonstrates how we humans have lost contact with Momma Nature. His emotional range consists of a painful wince which signifies dramatic tension, I guess.

If his Fantasy Island spa session is unrealistic and obnoxiously pink-tinted, the aftermath is a complete waste of time, forcing an unrealistic feel-good message on me. The movie all but grabs my cheeks and pinches them so that I have no choice but to smile in a grimace. Ugh.

It is so easy to be entertained by this movie, but dang, it's also a moralizing, condescending preachfest that is now the trademark of everything Tom Hanks, inspirational Chopra rip-off, one-note purveyor of oversentimental muzak, and a symbol of everything bland and ugly about yuppiedom. Wait, maybe Helen Hunt is the last one. Hmmm.

Rating: 50

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