Cast Away

View Date: December 28th, 2000

Cast :

Tom Hanks Chuck Noland
Helen Hunt Kelly Frears
Nick Searcy Stan
Christopher Noth Jerry Lovett
Lari White Bettina Peterson

Writer: William Broyles Jr. 

Director: Robert Zemeckis 


Welcome to the first unofficially corporate sponsored movie.  Brought to you by Federal Express, CBSís Survivor, and Kleenex brand tissues, Cast Away is a 2 and half hour commercial, featuring Tom Hanks as the greatest spokesperson in Madison Avenue history.  This tale of isolation and realization becomes nothing more than a platform for Hanks, who is as usual, incredible, and a story that has one-note which it keeps beating us over the head with over and over again.  In this era of Hollywood selling out to audience expectations of happy endings and fairy tale stories, now we have a film that not only does that, but also shamelessly pushes these items, subtly or obviously at us to distract us away from the fact that thereís not much with you can do with a guy on an island, even if he is one of the greatest living actors today.

There really isnít much of a plot to describe, since this is more of a character examination than anything.  Hanks is an overworked Federal Express supervisor who travels to locations to improve quality.  He has a girlfriend (Hunt) who tolerates his tireless dedication to work out of love.  During a holiday flight to the Far East (complete with a farewell that seems hokey ďIíll Be Right BackĒ doesnít he watch the Scream movies) Hanks flight crashes in the ocean, and thus begins his adventure.  He is washed up on an island with only a few conveniently saved packages (which he opens, bringing into question FedExís policy on that matter) but saving one for later delivery.  Over the next hour or so, we are treated to his progression from exasperated workaholic, to survivalist (thankfully, no rat barbecues occur).  He gains his strength from the one package, and from the watch his girlfriend gives him prior to departure.  Iím not going to divulge anything further, even though the previews do. I feel that a filmís message is robbed when it tips its hand too much, so I will leave the conclusion to those who do venture to see this.  Suffice to say, the emotions and heartstrings are being manipulated again, so be forewarned. Cast Awayís screenplay leaves too much to the imagination and creativity of the audience.  I admire films that do not necessarily tell every aspect of a story, but leave a little untold, allowing some to be left to the audiences own mindset based on what the story and film has given us.  There is an invisible line in movies that can serve differing purposes.  Those who overdo emotions run screaming across it, those who insult intelligences canít even see it, but Zemeckis is the most disappointing of these adventurers.  He skirts the line, teases it, but never quite comes across it, getting close enough to see his intentions, yet still far enough away to leave us wanting for more.  There wasnít really enough of a story to stretch as long as this one did, but if anyone can hold up a lacking story, it would Tom Hanks.

Hanks takes the movie on his cinematically Atlas shoulders and runs with it.  Only he could turn a volleyball into a viable Supporting Actor candidate, which by the way out acts the rest of the cast.  Every time it seems like Hanks cannot show us another level his ability, then he slaps another versatile performance at us. He shows his vulnerability and strength through actions rather than words and shows that it isnít always what you say, but what you do, that matters.  The problem is that even Hanks canít save the fact that there really just isnít enough of a story to drag out as long as this one does, and in the end, we feel manipulated and controlled into eliciting emotions, which is shameless and sad.

Ultimately, Cast Away is a movie that sells out to the desires of corporate America and the wishes and desires of moviegoers.  Zemeckis takes a simple idea, throwing Tom Hanks onto an island, and let him go.  That aspect works, but more is needed in ordered to make the emotionally explorative expose that he wanted to.  They say no man is an island, but in this film, Hanks almost has to be.  He is betrayed not by nature, or by the elements, but by a director who fails to realize that itís not what you say, but how you say it, that is most important.($$ out of $$$$)

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