Before I saw Castaway, I was assured that if I had to spend time on an island with a major male film star, Tom Hanks would probably be a good choice. He seems affable, neat and even-keeled. I was not disappointed. His Fed-Ex plane goes down in the South Pacific, he is stranded on an island, and he combats the elements and his various misfortunes while making attempts to escape to civilization. The time spent with Hanks is well worth it.
The problem with Castaway, however, is that director Robert Zemeckis tucks a love affair between Hanks and Helen Hunt (Washington, D.C.’s City Paper correctly observed that Helen Hunt was again cast as Helen Hunt) pre-stranding that is mundane and equivocal; post-stranding, it is confused and drawn out. While Hanks is on the island, out of necessity, he strikes up a relationship with a volleyball. Unintentionally, this relationship towers in depth and complexity in comparison to the one depicted between Hanks and Hunt. So, when Hanks gets back to civilization, the meat of loose ends and forged relationships and a changed world are not there to greet him, or us. Rather, the only thing we get to see him confront is the bland Hunt, and her on-again-off-again Tennessee drawl.
Side note: Tom Hanks is given the worst maladies in movies. In Philadelphia, it’s AIDS. In Castaway, he has to give himself what appears to be a root canal. In The Green Mile, he has a urinary tract infection that has him peeing what appear to be razors. What the hell?