Posts Tagged ‘stevenspielberg’

If you’re like me, you’ve seen and heard jokes and morning show conversations about how unsafe it is to travel with Tom Hanks. This has come up with the release of Sully, inspired by the notorious Miracle on the Hudson emergency plane landing and the events which followed. With this, Tom Hanks has been in at least two major releases where a character he plays deals with a plane crash.

So yes, maybe flying with a Tom Hanks character isn’t the greatest of ideas, but imagine the story which you would walk away telling. Hanks always chooses, or at least almost always, interesting stories and projects, so if all you have to deal with is a little plane crash, so be it.

This, and the release of the latest Dan Brown book-to-screen adaptation of Inferno with Hanks again as Robert Langdon, led me to start thinking about Tom Hanks movies in general, and great subject to ponder. This guy went from the TV show Bosom Buddies, which is where I first was exposed to him, to some of the best films of our time. Thus the inspiration of my latest Top 5 Favorites post.

Before I get into my personal favorites of his film career, let me review how I remember Tom Hanks coming to power. Since I am a child of the ’80s, my first exposure of Tom Hanks was on the TV sitcom Bosom Buddies where he and fellow actor Peter Scolari had to dress as women to get a decent rent-controlled Manhattan apartment in a building for only female residents. After that, I believe the first movie I saw him in, on VHS of course, was Splash (1984). I was a little over 10 years old and barreling towards puberty, so to be honest it took many years for me to realize Tom Hanks was even in that film, since all I payed attention to was Daryl Hannah as a mermaid.

After that, Hanks went on to star in a series of screwball comedies, some better than others, but it wasn’t until I saw Nothing In Common (1986) on HBO as a teenager that I knew this screwball actor had a major amount of talent and range. Punchline (1988) followed that and I remember watching it with my folks on VHS. During the infamous–in my book–scene when Hanks’s character does his Singing in the Rain performance outside that diner having been romantically rejected by Sally Field’s character, my dad uttered a simple, “Wow, that guy is GOOD.”

Multiple projects later as an actor, producer and director including back-to-back Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role during the mid-1990’s, and Tom Hanks has carved himself a niche as being one of the great actors of my generation.

Without further haste, here are my selections for what are my Top 5 Favorite Tom Hanks movies thus far. The are listed from No. 5 to No. 1.

Subjected for your approval.

poster_savingmrbanksNo. 5 – Saving Mr. Banks (2013)

One icon of cinema playing another icon. Tom Hanks gets to portray Walt Disney, pre-popsicle of course. This movie was so delightful for so many reasons; the cast, the rehearsal scenes, the dynamic Hanks and co-star Emma Thompson (Stranger Than Fiction) created between Disney and the creator of the Mary Poppins literary franchise, P.L. Travers, as the two worked to bring the books to the big screen. Hanks has two great scenes for me; first, when he opens up to Travers about his father forcing him to run his paper route and learning the meaning of forgiveness. The other was the scene where, while in rehearsal, Travers demanded the film not have the color red in all the exterior scenes of London.

The film was extremely informative from a Hollywood historic standpoint, particularly in the fact that Disney never acquired the intellectual property rights to adapt Mary Poppins to screen until well after pre-production had begun.

However, Thompson and Hanks really carried the film with an amazing supporting cast, and Hanks as Disney was a prime example of how this actor is a true chameleon. Among the actor’s research and preparation for the role, Hanks visited the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco several times and spoke with family members including Disney’s daughter Diane Disney Miller. Supposedly, Hanks himself is a distant cousin of Walt Disney, but I could not find any reliable source on the web to confirm that little tidbit.

To read my full review of Saving Mr. Banks, click here.

poster_castawayNo. 4 – Cast Away (2000)

The beauty of this film is how Tom Hanks can say so much with his physical performance and non-verbal representation without having hardly any lines. The story is about how a FedEx executive whose world is ruled by the clock and having no time to meet goals suddenly finds himself stuck on a remote island when his flight crashes in the ocean, now he has all the time in the world for the next three years until he finally figures out a way to try and escape to freedom or die in the process.

To this day, any time I build something with my own hands, like our dog house or change out a light fixture, and it works, I throw my hands in the air and shout, “YES! LOOK WHAT I HAVE CREATED!” This refers to one of the more memorable scenes from the movie where Hanks’ character, Chuck, figures out how to start a fire in the wild of the island, probably having never done so in his life. The moment shows Chuck reaching a new level of his own masculinity and is comical since we’ve all had moments of acting like a total tard when no one was looking.

The moment which shows Hanks as a master for me is when Chuck has finally escaped the island and floating out at see with his volleyball co-hort Wilson, who became the only “person” for him to talk to for his years of solitude. However, while napping on his raft at sea, Wilson comes loose and drifts out into open water with Chuck unable to rescue him. Chuck loses his only friend for the previous three years and the next scene shows him sobbing like a child who lost their best friend. That moment brings me to tears every time, and it is all because Hanks does such a superior job of selling it to the viewer.

Hanks gave an interview in 2000 about his preparation for the role, from which he stated the hardest part was losing so much weight to show Chuck three years after being stranded. He said not eating French Fries during that process was torture, I agree it would be. Regardless, his pre-production work paid off in the final project helping create one of his greatest roles and pictures.

There is only one moment of the movie I disliked. During the reuniting of Chuck and girlfriend Kelly, played by Helen Hunt (As good As It Gets), when she is catching him up on events he missed over the past three years, she mentions Tennessee not only has an NFL football team in the Titans, they went to the Superbowl and almost one the game but came up short by one yard; one yard away from winning. That’s actually inaccurate. In that Superbowl game, the Titans were down by a touchdown and they needed to reach the end zone to tie the game and send it into overtime. On their last play, the were one yard shy of the goal line. It was one yard to tie, not one yard to win. That has always bugged me for some reason. Maybe Kelly just didn’t understand the game.

poster_punchlineNo. 3 – Punchline (1988)

This movie is not only one of my favorite Tom Hanks films, it is one of my favorites of all time. It follows the plights of two comedians; Steven (Hanks) who is a med-school flunkie and peppered stand up comic and Lila (Sally Field) who is a New Jersey housewife who is trying to break into the craft. She enlists Steven into a sort of mentorship role while Steven eventually falls for Lila. The picture culminates into the lauching of Steven’s career because of Lila’s sacrifice.

The movie in general is a small story from the life of comic Barry Sobel, who was quite popular during the late ’80s and early ’90s. However, Hanks was nothing like Sobel. The actor made the character his own. He was hilarious but also quietly sad, being virtually homeless and emotionally helpless, that is until Lila comes into his life. This is also possibly the best performance I’ve ever seen from Field. Between her and John Goodman (Coyote Ugly) playing her husband, her home life creating adversity for her outer motivation was so well scripted.

Back to Hanks. Like I mentioned in my preface, the Singing in the Rain scene shows how trying to be funny can truly give you a glimpse at a character’s sadness and depression. I just don’t know how Hanks pulled that scene off but it is truly masterful.

In preparation for this role, Hanks–and Fields for that matter–enlisted the aide of actual stand up comics to help them. Helping Hanks was none other than his character’s true-life inspiration Barry Sobel. Sobel and comedian Randy Fetcher teamed with Hanks to help write his character’s stand up routines for the film. Both Hanks and Fields took their learnings to random stand up clubs to get comfortable with the craft prior to filming.

David Selzter (Lucas), writer and director, was a fan of comedy clubs which helped inspire him to write this loosely adapted from true life plot. His work on this project was truly a great example of writing, directing and performance choices working together as a team. That is one of many reasons Punchline is one of my favorite movies of all time and one my favorites starring Tom Hanks. To read my full review of Punchline, click here.

poster_savingryanNo. 2 – Saving Private Ryan (1998)

I think it’s amusing only one movie directed by Steven Spielberg appears among this list, while two appear directed by Robert Zemeckis. I felt the ensemble performances within the eight men of the rescue squad was what made this picture so entertaining. It will take a long time to put an ensemble THIS strong together again.

However, Tom Hanks as Captain Miller was the cornerstone of the casting. Hanks had so many great aspects to his character including the neurological tick which made his hands tremble at times. Also, the script included an interesting game among Miller’s men who kept guessing his backstory but wasn’t really sure until one of the film’s most tense moments. The speech of that scene was actually much longer, and Hanks pleaded to Spielberg to shorten it since Miller wouldn’t be interested in telling his men that much about himself. Spielberg agreed.

The special effects, going hand in hand with the picture’s production design, was flawless and captured the destruction and the era of the German occupied regions of France depicted throughout the story. Two-time Academy Award winning director Spielberg and two-time Oscar winner Januz Kaminski really knocked the visuals of the film out of the park. Overall, you can’t get a better World War II set movie than “Saving Private Ryan.” I have yet to see anything come close, and I doubt I will in the remainder of my lifetime.

One note to Tom Hanks integrity to the craft was a six-day boot camp each of the actors were asked to endure prior to filming. Since the boot camp was terribly physically challenging, one actor voted the team quit, but it was Tom Hanks, who reputed enjoyed the experience, who decided to stick it out in preparation of his role, thus inspiring the rest of the cast to see the camp to its end as well.

To read my full review of Saving Private Ryan, click here.

poster_forrestgumpNo. 1 – Forrest Gump (1994)

This is my second selection directed by Robert Zemeckis which won him the Academy Award for Best Direction in 1995; however, it is my first selection among favorite Tom Hanks starring pictures.

Forrest Gump is just a man who looks to keep things simple, thinks simple and loves a gal who is anything but. However, it is the numerous sequences where Gump’s presence is added to pivotal moments in American history and at times causes them is what makes this picture a delight. That, and of course his friendship-relationship with Jenny, played by Robin Wright (Unbreakable), is what pulls the heart strings and makes this movie an American classic.

My favorite scene to show Hanks’ chops is when he is reunited with Jenny, after she has given birth to her son, also named Forrest. She tells Forrest Sr. the son is HIS from their one night together years before. Hanks’ physical response to the news, knowing he now has a son and concerned for the kid’s mental abilities showed two things. One, there was an emotion of utter fright which Hanks conveyed without using any dialogue, and two, this was the first indication that Forrest was cognitive of his own mental limitations and fearful it was hereditary.

This is of course an ironic notion since it shows a level of sharpness we hadn’t been shown from Gump prior to that moment. The moment gets me in the feelie-goods every time and shows the immense amount of talent Hanks has for his craft, and that scene–in my opinion–won Hanks the Academy Award.

This performance is also one of the best and unique accents Hanks had developed from the film. Watching the DVD extras, Hanks gives an interview where he credits the accent was developed from the natural accent of Michael Connor Humphreys who played Gump as a young boy. Hanks said he had such a great southern accent which “came from his backbone,” he decided to adopt it for his older Gump character. To do so, Hanks sat and listened to Humphreys describe the plot of his favorite movie to him. The movie? Jurassic Park.

Another reason I felt this production was special for Hanks, since the visual effects of the film and locations were demanding on the film’s budget, the A-List actor, whom already won one Academy Award walking on set by that time, agreed to not be paid for his role. Instead, he accepted percentage points as compensation which allowed him a $40 million dollar payday and his second Oscar. Sometimes, Hanks knows it’s about the craft first and the money later, and this brilliant work is a prime example of that. This is just one of many reasons why Forrest Gump is my favorite film in Tom Hanks’ list of productions.

Of course, when you review Hanks’ list of films, choosing a mere five to select as your favorites is extremely hard if not impossible. He has performed in so many absolutely great films, not good but GREAT films, selecting only five to write about can’t be done. Therefore, I have selected–as I do with all my Top 5 Favorites posts–five honorable mentions which almost made the cut.

Bridge of Spies (2015)

Tom Hanks’ character of Donovan is where the message of this film sits. Compromise is about “Give” and take not “Give Up” and take. His resolve and refusal to compromise his negotiation stance helps the audience get behind him as a protagonist. Hanks is as well as he always does in a leadership type roll. I also like how they gave his character a cold during the entire trip to Berlin for negotiations. For some reason, it made him more human. Now, Hanks is always a great addition to any film, but this is the one film where Hanks doesn’t necessarily carry the film. They carry each other. To read my full review of Bridge of Spies, click here.

Captain Phillips (2013)

This is such a great story and well made film, but half of it occurs in such closed quarters, the film becomes a complete study in using one’s face to convey inner motivations and fears. Tom Hanks and Academy Award nominated supporting actor Barkhad Abdirahman, the leader of the Somalie pirates. Hanks is perfectly the man for that kind of trade. The film is intense and the moment when Phillips, the title character, is about to be executed by his captors and he screams out to his family back in New England for even having left them, my heart breaks each time I’ve seen. In addition, after the Navy Seals finally take down the bad guys and Hanks is rescued, his breakdown in the medical unit equally heartbreaking but far more satisfying.

Catch Me If You Can (2002)

This was moreso a great notch on Leonardo DiCaprio’s resume, but Tom Hanks as a nemesis character on the side of the law is a perfect addition to the dynamic of the film. DiCaprio as Frank Abagnale Jr.–whom I’ve actually interviewed in real life, the true life-inspired character not the actor–serves as an anti-hero, breaking the law and swindling money just to support himself as a runaway. However, Hanks as FBI agent Carl Hanratty is the man attempting to bring justice to the story, so even though he’s the nemesis for the main character, he’s the “good guy.” This makes the film unique and one of my favorites with Hanks on the bill. To read my full review of Catch Me If You Can, click here.

Apollo 13 (1995)

What can I say about this modern classic about one of the most terrible moments in NASA history which turned into one of its finest hours of rescue. From the moment the Apollo 13 mission to the moon is derailed by a faulty coil which blows up an oxygen tank once the three-man crew are in outer space, the film is one of the most intense stories of rescue and government teamwork. Hanks is wonderful as the lead role of astronaut Jim Lovell who was captain of the mission vessel and it’s not only one of my favorite Tom Hanks movies, it’s one of my favorites from director Ron Howard.

The Terminal (1999)

Barely edging out The Green Mile among my honorable mentions is The Terminal about a foreigner (Hanks) who is detained and stranded at New York’s JFK international airport while on a mission to honor his late-father’s memory. However, after a coup in his homeland while flying to the U.S. leaves him without a country to pass through immigration checkpoints, Hanks’ foreign character Viktor uses his time making friends, learning to speak English and battling the strangely anal adversity of an extremely well-written nemesis character in Frank Dixon (Stanley Tucci). Albeit the romance between Viktor and Amelia (Catherine Zeta-Jones) got convoluted at times, this slice of life picture directed by Steven Spielberg was enjoyable from start to finish and there is no reason to consider it one of my honorable mention favorites starring Tom Hanks. To read my full review of The Terminal, click here.

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When I was a child, I pretty much hated this movie. Probably because the first was such a stellar production and this one was a complete campy fest by comparison. However, over time I learned to forgive this second installment of the Indiana Jones saga for its short comings and realize, there really is no living up to Raiders of the Lost Ark, but let’s take a look at how The Temple of Doom fares regardless, especially now that I’m an adult.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom follows the title character, again played by the legendary Harrison Ford (Star Wars, Ep 7: The Force Awakens), once again as he escapes a deal gone sour in Shanghai and he and his cohorts are forced to jump from an unpiloted plane over India. Once back on the ground, Dr. Jones is welcomed by a village of indigenous folk who believe he was sent by the gods to find and return their children which disappeared in the night. Or something like that. I don’t exactly remember how they disappeared but they were kidnapped as we later found out and became slaves to an accent cult which had been secretly continued practicing human sacrifice and all sort of nastiness.

I used to hate the beginning of this film. Indiana Jones at a black tie affair instead of wearing the typical hat, leather jacket and whip on the hip was how I wanted to see Dr. Jones years after the first movie. However, now that I’m older, the entire sequence is quite intense and the comedy of the scene wasn’t exactly as annoying as I felt it was when I was younger.

I didn’t care for Short Round, played by Jonathan Ke Quan (The Goonies). I didn’t think having a child side kick was a necessity for Indiana Jones and it felt like Ke Quan’s character was only there to attract younger viewers to the story. However, when I’m 10 years old, I didn’t need one of the Goonies to be in the movie for me to like it. You have Indiana Jones for crap’s sake.

I loved the story. Secret occult stuff in an Asian land, and it comes with a magnificent villain in Mola Ram, played by Amrish Puri, the leader of the cult who was infamous for ripping out the hearts of the cult’s human sacrifices to Kali Ma, their god. It was most of this violence which lent the film and the movie Gremlins, which came out the same year, to be the first to acquire the newly invented MPAA rating of PG-13. As a 10 year old kid, I remember those cult sacrifice scenes fucked me up, but it only inspired me to crack my play whip wearing my fidora in the back yard even more.

The special effects were terrible. In the cinemas, I thought they were the most intense thing ever, but as an adult, seeing this movie makes me laugh at the multitude of miniature photography which looked like a bunch of poorly shot models. Case in point was the mining car chase scene. The mining cars were certainly fake and a distraction.

I also didn’t care for how campy the whole thing was. There were several scenes which added comedy where comedy simply wasn’t needed. One moment I thought wasn’t needed was when Indiana Jones comes over to Willie Scott’s bedroom, played by Kate Capshaw (Spacecamp), when she thinks he’s there to do her. Instead, he’s looking for a secret passage and eventually finds it being the sculpture of a naked woman. He accesses the secret passage by pushing on the statue’s breasts, just after Willie says, “Hey, I’m right here!” Sure, it’s a good laugh, but it simply didn’t fit into the same kind of material style of the first movie and was also been off-putting to me.

Some other scenes of the”adventure” were great. The bug trap sequence was beyond awesome with intensity and appropriate comedy. The cult sequences. The big fit in the mining work room was well worth the price of admission. And of course the creme de la creme of action sequences, the rope bridge climactic scene which gives me the chills every time I see it.

Overall, I do enjoy Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom as an adult. However, it is far from being my favorite Indiana Jones movie, not even my second favorite. It is not my least favorite though, and I guess that’s something.


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photo courtesy of tomcruise.com

Tom…sigh. What an adventure this guy has led us on. From his early days in Taps and Risky Business to his descent into Scientology and keeping Katie Holmes locked in his basement wearing lace panties and chained to a broken water pipe–I have absolutely no facts to back that up by the way. And then, miraculously, he somewhat emerges from the rectum of L. Ron Hubbard to produce a handful of respectable works and stops opening his mouth to the media about his “religion,” trying to make the rest of us feel beneath him because we didn’t bother to read Dianetics.

As you may be able to tell, my love-hate relationship with the works of one of Hollywood’s biggest has been bitter over the years, but the guy still does great movies for the most part. However, over the course of his career, he has produced a lucid collection of stinkers. This is what I plan to examine as a challenge from my movie corner co-hort Brian G. Felts. Below is my Top 5 Favorites list of what I feel are the worst movies in which Tom Cruise had a major role.

Let me start by remembering when I was first introduced to a movie which had Tom Cruise in it. I don’t. He just sort of showed up one day in Top Gun and the rest was history. Kidding. I actually saw the movie Taps (1981) in the cinema when I was seven years old. It was about a bunch of kids who standoff to save their military academy from being taken over by a condo developer. It was junk. The next time I saw Cruise I believe was the infamous dancing in his underwear scene in Risky Business (1983). But what drops people’s jaws the most is when they find out I didn’t actually see Top Gun until I was about 32 years old. I was 12 when it hit theaters but for some reason despite its popularity I never saw it. The first I actually saw it was in the cinemas however during one of those throw back classic promotions at a local movie house. Top Gun clearly put Cruise on the map and projected him to A-List notoriety or at least put him on the fast track to it.

Then he had to go and marry Nicole Kidman, whom I had a major celebrity crush on for I think a decade, and this started my low despise of the Cruise ship. That’s when I started to notice, not all Tom Cruise movies are actually any good. So here is my breakdown of the Top 5 fails on Tom Cruise’s resume as an actor. They are listed from No. 5 to No. 1.


poster_valkyrieNo. 5 – Valkyrie (2008)

I’m not sure with whom to blame blame for this movie; director Bryan Singer? (X-Men, The Usual Suspect). But regardless, Tom Cruise carries the film as Col Claus con Stauffenberg who help implement a plot to assassinate and overthrow Adolf Hitler during the height of Nazi Germany. The film includes an all star cast and to be honest the story itself is great.

The production however was terrible. Every character was supposed to be German but the majority of the cast had their natural British accents in tow and Cruise had no attempt to conceal his American dialect. I don’t think anyone in the cast sounded remotely German, so this very engaging historical story was ruined by a total lack of authenticity.

As for Cruise, I simply didn’t think he was able to pull off a character who was a disabled war veteran. Again, the authenticity just wasn’t there from his performance, his choice or those of the actors around him. Like I said, can’t exactly blame Cruise for the level of blah this movie brought since its problems were across the board and not just with Cruise’s role or performance.

poster_collateralNo. 4 – Collateral (2004)

What was with Tom Cruise’s grey hair in this film? Cruise’s makeup job in this picture appears to try and represent him as an older gentlemen, but Cruise’s physical and vocal characterization of Vincent is still younger and athletic than his look. My assessment is, Vincent, as a professional hit man, has died his hair this way so if any witnesses attempt to identify him, cops will be searching for an older man and not someone who looks like he would normally. However, there’s no text in the movie to support that, so Cruise’s look is consistently unusual, almost distracting.

The movie itself again wasn’t terrible. It got very cluttered in the second act with misguided sequences and lengthy random shots from director Michael Mann (Heat, Ali) showing the “driving” between Vincent (Cruise) and Max (Jamie Foxx). These shots were lacking reason and I thought it dragged the movie on. Act Three fell victim to a few cinematic conventions, which was disappointing after such a lengthy build up.

My biggest problem with the movie is its title. I just don’t see how the word “collateral” has anything to do with the story. I don’t see the relevance. Oh well. Click here to read my full review of Collateral.

poster_lionsforlambsNo. 3 – Lions for Lambs (2007)

My last three selections for worst movies involving Tom Cruise each have a high w.t.f. factor. The worst thing about this movie is its muddled messages. Is it pro-war? Is it pro-activism? Is it pro-education? Is it anti-military? I really can’t decipher the damn thing. As for Tom Cruise’s part as a young senator named Jasper Irving who works a media connection, a reporter played by Meryl Streep (Into the Woods), to announce a new military action, win favor with the press and gain public popularity.

Eventually, we find Cruise’s character to be this Paul Ryan-type young republican who is just desperate to “take the big toys down off the shelf” as reporter Janine Roth (Streep) puts it. If this is a little unclear of its meaning, she means these young republicans are too eager to nuke an adversary and start World War III just to compare dick size.

At every turn, this movie was convoluted at every corner. The influence of Professor Malley, played by Robert Redford (Sneakers), over his apathetic student played by Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spiderman). The political influence of congressman Irving over Roth, and more so her editor’s motivations. The ideologies of Malley’s two students who join the military to prove a point and get injured during a covert military action against terrorism. There are so many storylines which are supposed to intersect, but ultimately they don’t. Not directly. So the whole thing is confusing and pointless.

And Cruise’s presence doesn’t help this stinker one bit.

poster_vanillaskyNo. 2 – Vanilla Sky (2001)

What. Was. That? If there is an award for most confusing and clouded storyline by an established and talented filmmaker, it’s Vanilla Sky. Let’s start with the poster, shall we? It’s Tom Cruise’s fat head on a one sheet looking like he just woke up and unclear what’s going on. That;s pretty much how I looked after trying to watch this movie.

This was director Cameron Crowe’s (Jerry MaGuire, Almost Famous) worst movie ever. Two hours and 16 minutes just to watch Cameron Diaz (In Her Shoes) get upset Cruise blew a load in her mouth and then tried to dump her. What? “You came in my mouth. I mean, that means something!”-actual line from Diaz in the movie. What?!

Basically, if I understand it correctly, is Cruise plays this influential publisher who lives in privilege until he is in this car accident with this jilted lover (Diaz). Then his life, which we never really gave a crap about in the first place gets thrown around like a rag doll. So what. Who care? Talked about being emotionally disconnected from the material, Vanilla Sky is the perfect example of poo on a stick.

poster_eyeswideshutNo. 1 – Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Oh boy. Here we go. Time for every guy who saw this movie to chastise me for saying this. Eyes Wide Shut sucked so bad, it literally makes me want to cry. Is it Tom Cruise’s fault…surprisingly, no. It was the last fully completed project from director Stanley Kubrick (Full Metal Jacket, The Shining), of whom’s work I completely despise.

Why does it make me want to cry? Because the one film which shows Nicole Kidman completely naked multiple times I SOOOOOO wish was actually a movie worth watching. However, just like all of Kubrick non-sense productions, it is slow and senseless.

Again, let me see if I have this straight. Cruise plays this doctor who finds out his wife cheated on him. So pissed off at her and looking for payback, I think (wasn’t really made clear), goes on this nightlong sexcapade where he never actually has sex, but does run neck deep into this secret society of swingers that scares the crap out of you with the hollow piano score. It was painfully slow. It was painfully misdirected in story. In fact, there was no story. It was Tom Cruise. Walking around New York City finding himself in awkward situations which had something remotely to do with sex.

In the end, we realize the movie could have been wrapped up in 30 minutes to share its final message of “Don’t cheat on each other.” Kubrick, and naked Kidman in a shitty movie and having the watch a confused Cruise try to make sense of the story…and possibly a reason why he even agreed to be in the picture. This is in my opinion the worst Tom Cruise starred movie on his resume. Click here to read my full review of Eyes Wide Shut.

To be fair, I will briefly share some the films I feel were Tom Cruise’s best, but unfortunately their greatness are attributed to other talents involved in the production. They are listed in no particular order.


Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

This picture won Oliver Stone his second Academy Award for directing and rightfully so. This was also one of the best films I’ve see Tom Cruise do. If fact, no matter how many times I’ve seen it, Cruise melts away and I am watching the real Ron Kovic. It’s masterful in performance and production. This was also nominated for Best Picture that year.

Jerry MaGuire (1996)

Although a Cameron Crowe-directed movie appears on my worst list, this one would be on my best list. It’s one of the best films for Crowe and for Cruise. Maybe even one of the best films of that decade. This was also nominated for Best Picture from the Academy Awards that year. Click here to read my full review of Jerry MaGuire.

Minority Report (2002)

Let’s credit Steven Spielberg for this. It’s simply awesome and I am NOT a fan of science fiction, but the mystery involved in this film and the concept of a cop’s name coming up in their future criminal’s system was interesting. It was exciting and perfectly told…again, to Spielberg. Thank you Tommy boy for not screwing it up with your presence.

The Color of Money (1986)

Cruise was a supporting role in this. Paul Newman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) was the true star, of which his performance won him the Academy Award that year. It is also one of the best films directed by Martin Scorsese (The Departed, Goodfellas). The cockiness of Cruise’s character fit perfectly with the coolness of Newman. This was maybe the first evidence of Tom Cruise being able to hold his own with heavy-hitting actors like Newman. This was another hopeful for Best Picture that particular year. Click here to read my full review of The Color of Money.

Far and Away (1992)

It’s Irish and it’s Ron Howard (Apollo 13, The Davinci Code) directing a story from his own family history. THAT is why this movie is so good…oh and it has Nicole Kidman to look at. The movie itself is pop-Irish at best, but given it’s based on the romantic story of Howard’s great grandparents meeting and coming to America together and reunite at the Great Oklahoma Land Race makes the movie far more interesting than otherwise. Click here to read my full review of Far and Away.

A Few Good Men (1992)

Let’s blame Aaron Sorkin’s writing on this great film, based on his stageplay, as well as the direction from Rob Reiner. However, This was maybe the best movie Tom Cruise ever put his name on. It is a great mystery. It is a great courtroom drama. It’s a great story of growth for Cruise’s character, and with Demi Moore standing next to him, he isn’t the worst thing in the movie. PLUS, it has Jack Nicholson in a very badass role which also gained him a supporting actor Academy Award that year. The movie itself was nominated Best Picture.


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Now this is a term I came up with. At least I haven’t heard it before. Loopties.

This is a genre of movies personal to each individual movie fanatic, given to any movie which you can simply watching over and over and NEVER get tired of it. It’s just as entertaining to you the 100th time as it was the first time.

I call them Loopties because you can have them on a permanent playback loop and still love them each time over.

Now over the course of my life, there have been many Loopties. They have been good and great films with a handful of not-so-great ones every so often. However, on some level they all have been uniquely entertaining to me.

I’ve also noticed my list of favorites evolves. Maybe it’s because I get older, or it’s easy to move certain titles out of your mind as newer ones are produced and take over. Whatever the reasons, there are only two titles I mention among my favorites which were released prior to 2000. I found that interesting. When finalizing my list, I thought for certain at least two ’80s movies would have made the cut.

My favorites are listed from No. 5 to No. 1. Submitted for your approval:

poster_fridayNo. 5 – Friday (1995)

I first was shown this movie by a stand up comic/producer friend of mine who wished he was Chris Tucker. This “slice of life” picture from the hood has virtually no plot, but the antics of what Chris, played by Ice Cube (Ride Along 2), and Smokey, played by Tucker (Silver Linings Playbook), get into while mostly sitting on Chris’ front stoop all day is down right hilarious.

There are a handful of color characters and both scripted and improv lines of dialogue are ones I’ve carried with me since I first saw the movie, “And you know this, MAAAAN!”

poster_savingmrbanksNo. 4 – Saving Mr. Banks (2013)

Between the musical rehearsal numbers, two great characters in author P.L. Travers and Walt Disney and set in the golden age of Hollywood, there’s no reason for me not to love watching this film on repeat.

No matter how many times I watch it, I get choked up at the same scenes every time. That’s rare for me but obviously this film succeeds at capturing that initial impression it gives upon first viewing. I don’t even like the movie Mary Poppins which Disney was trying to pre produce in the story, but this telling of it is simply a big batch of fun and greatness.

Read my full review of Saving Mr. Banks. 

poster_keepingfaithNo. 3 – Keeping the Faith (2000)

This picture is a love triangle involving a priest and a rabbi, a super cute and sexy Jenna Elfman (EdTV) a ton of situational comedy and a bunch of things to say about having faith in others. It’s so perfectly laid out script-wise, the story and comedy is endless for me.

What’s more, this was the only movie released that was directed by Edward Norton (Birdman), starring as the priest. He has one other project in the works with him at the helm but this one stands so far as his sole outing and it is hilarious and well worth seeing a few times over for me. It’s also one of the only Ben Stiller (Meet the Fockers) comedies, starring as the rabbi, I actually like and doesn’t include a scene where he is dancing like an idiot.

poster_internshipNo. 2 – The Internship (2013)

This was the best feel-good movie of that year. It had comedy duo Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson (The Wedding Crashers), a great supporting cast and a wonderful story about two men chasing down a dream.

I can watch this movie endlessly, but it’s the “Taking food home from the office” scene which I recite in an Indian accent as my best Mr Chetty impersonation and that alone cracks my wife up every time. That scene not this entire movie will never get old for me.

Read my full review of The Internship.

SN_IT_1-SHT_FRND_1No. 1 – The Social Network (2010)

The only thing bad about this film is how dark director David Fincher (Gone Girl, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) shot it. I don’t think Harvard saw sunlight the entire time Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, played by Jesse Eisenberg (Now You See Me), attended it.

Other than that, the screenplay by Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men) was perfectly constructed. The cast was top notch especially with Armie Hammer (The Lone Ranger) as both crew rowing twins Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss.

I think the main attraction to this movie for me is that it watches one socially-retarded genius build an idea into an empire while stepping on a few necks to get there. Watching this repeatedly is no problem for me.

Of course there aren’t just five movies which I have no problems watching over again and again. So here are just a handful in no particular order my honorable mentions which barely missed the cut of the Top 5.

The Help (2011)

I was in Texas visiting some of my in laws when I first saw this. I had to put the kids to bed before getting to see the rest of it but I agonized over seeing the last of it until I finally got that chance. Now that I own it, I’ll play it regularly. It is simply high quality filmmaking.

Hall Pass (2011)

One from the Farrelly Brothers, Peter and Bobby, which has a lot to say about marriage. However, the cast and comedic moments keeps this one on repeat for me. That and the fact that the DVD restarts itself so you only have to press play once and can watch it all day.

Jaws (1975)

This is the oldest Looptie of my favorites but this Stephen Spielberg classic is exactly the definition of both. So perfectly written I never get enough of it.

She’s Out of My League (2010)

I think many guys can identify with a lead character who dates a perfect 10 and feels she is far hotter than himself. This brings complications both outer and inner and with great situational comedy writing, this film is easy to leave on repeat.

Monsters University (2013)

I bought this for my daughter having not seen it. She used to ask for it as “Monsters Mercy.” She was the one who would watch it several times over every night for what seemed like months. However, I found I enjoyed it so much, I never got tired of watching it like some of her other animated films and thus I included it among my favorites.

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