Another for Hanks? No thanks

Please, hasn't he won enough little gold statuettes?


March 25, 2001|By Tamara Ikenberg | Tamara Ikenberg,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Dear Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences:

Seen any good movies lately?

Just kidding.

I am but a nameless journalist with no real film education or insight. But I do have a strong sense of good and evil.

Good: Not giving Tom Hanks another Academy Award.

Evil: Giving Hanks another Academy Award.

I'm not writing to suggest that I am in some way a better judge of motion picture arts or science than all of you, but merely to help you see things from the anti-Hanks point of view, one shared by millions of movie watchers who have to drink an entire bottle of Pepto-Bismol every time "Sleepless in Seattle" (1993) plays on Lifetime. They are afraid to come out of the anti-Hanks closet for fear that the pompous, puerile, over-publicized multimillion-dollar machine that is Hanks will retaliate.

So I will speak for them. Before you do something insane, like give Tom Hanks another Academy Award, hear me out.

I've done my research.

As I lingered on the unofficial "Bachelor Party" (1984) Web site one night, I was drawn to a link quoting famous lines from the film (co-starring the peerless Adrian Zmed).

Now, you tell me that "Hookers to the left, beer to the right," doesn't beat the Gump out of "Life is like a box of chocolates."

Seriously, Tom Hanks is so much better when he's funny. Why encourage him to be not funny and all serious and pompous and patriotic and stuff when he's one of the few great comic actors of our era?

The same thing happened with Robin Williams. Y'all keep heaping critical praise, handing out Oscars like they were Tic-Tacs and shoving him into schlocky, inspiring mentor roles or soulless big-budget family pap. And in the process, we lose Mork from Ork, perhaps the most inspired pre-Urkel sitcom character of all time.

But I am not here to talk about the star of "Jumanji" and "Bicentennial Man."

This is about Hanks.

Hanks, who I first must laud for his turns as a "Saturday Night Live" guest host. Hanks' initiation into the "5-Timers Club" with Elliott Gould, Steve Martin, Paul Simon, etc., was an iconic comedic moment.

But now, to a less joyous topic. Hanks won the best-actor Oscar in 1993 for "Philadelphia," and the following year for (excuse me while I bang my head against the keyboard) "Forrest Gump," and is nominated this year for "Cast Away."

But I prefer to remember Hanks as he was. Hanks so delighted me in 1987's "Dragnet," as Pep Streebek, the irresponsible ladies' man foil to Dan Aykroyd's uptight Sgt. Joe Friday. I also count "Splash" (1984) among my favorite Hanks films. He effortlessly emulated compassion and charm as the lovable loser who helped hot mermaid Daryl Hannah navigate the world above water. And those are only a couple examples of Hanks' appealing pre-"serious actor" roles.

Now, why wasn't he recognized for these masterful, nuanced performances? Why was he, instead, berated, underrated or ignored?

Why the sudden switch to drooling reverence and respectability? Why the heavy, socially relevant or ridiculously romantic roles? Why, Tom? Why?

I was forced to watch "You've Got Mail" (1998) while on the Peter Pan bus from New York to Baltimore. No matter how hard I tried to catch a few winks or get back to the Teen People story on Freddie Prinze Jr. I was reading; I couldn't escape.

Imagine being stuck in a small, enclosed moving vehicle with Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan and Greg Kinnear, all acting as simpering and awkwardly smitten as humanly possible for two hours! Aaaahhh! I'm going into convulsions just thinking about it.

The Hanks of today is light years away from the lithe, shaggy-haired, cross-dressing, "Bosom Buddies"-era Hanks. Remember how Hanks and co-star Peter Scolari used to frolic during the opening credits?

Every time Tom Hanks wins an Oscar, Peter Scolari cries. Do you really want to hurt Peter Scolari again?

Perhaps you're thinking about giving yet another gold man to Hanks because you don't realize the worthiness of his competitors.(Shameless plug for Geoffrey Rush in "Quills": I really think Geoffrey Rush should win for "Quills," because he was amazing, and "Quills" rocks and has a lot of kinky sex in it. Have you ever seen a Hanks film with kinky sex? Wait, I forget: "Turner and Hooch.")

The only useful thing Hanks has done in the past decade or so is make the "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" game easier by appearing with the pug-nosed one in 1995's "Apollo 13."

OK, here's a real stumper: Connect Kevin Bacon and Shelly Long.(Dude, that is, like, so easy. Shelly Long was in "The Money Pit" with Hanks, who was in "Apollo 13" with Kevin Bacon.)

So, bottom line: Don't give Hanks an Oscar, and everything will be OK. Encourage him to go back to his campy roots or just go away.

Most likely you're still planning to give Hanks an Oscar, because Hanks has some kind of eerie control over time, space and mind. But I will still try one last pathetic plea.

Listen, March 25, aka Oscar night, is my birthday. Do you want to give me a present? Can not giving Tom Hanks an Oscar be my present?

I'd prefer to celebrate with an activity other than puking violently while watching at my friend's house that night.

You see, there are other people involved here.

Do it for them.

Do it for the integrity of the Academy.

But most importantly, do it for Scolari.

Thank you,

Tamara "Rush in 2001!" Ikenberg

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