A tip of the birthday hat goes to one of the biggest superstars to come out of the modern age of Hollywood, Tom Hanks, who not only is a supernova of a presence in many forms of mediums, but is also considered one of the great actors and comedians of that modern era as well.
Imbued with a kind of metaphorical force majeure, the widespread appeal of Tom Hanks stretches to all four corners of the globe. Even early in his career, as the sarcastic, Bill Murrayesque character (sometimes in drag) on the late 1970s-early 1980s sitcom, Bosom Buddies, there was an ease about Hanks; it seemed as if he’d been a star for years. He exuded a confidence and hilarity that made a role like the one he played in an early picture he was in – Ron Howard’s Splash – ebullient, effused with the Hanks chipper formula, and elevated that film’s character from what could have been a manifestation of milquetoast into an everyman that the audience cares about. It set the template for the Hanks’ character to come in countless cinematic vehicles that followed (Bachelor Party, The Money Pit, the hyper success Big, the obscure Volunteers, The Man With One Red Shoe, and The Burbs among many others).
It was with some of his films like Nothing In Common, the final film for Jackie Gleason, (who played Hanks’ character’s dad) and Punchline, a film about life for struggling aspiring stand-up comedians, that the dramatic side started to become evident to the movie-going public, something that crystallized itself completely by the time he won back to back Academy Awards for his characterizations in Philadelphia and Forrest Gump respectively. And those two films couldn’t have been more the opposite ends of the spectrum, just confirming an unexpected versatility and humility to go along with the quick wit, sly snide kind of demeanor, wise-cracking delinquent we’d been accustomed to seeing in those aforementioned films of his and more.
In a strange way, there’s like two chapters to the Hanks resume and legend, Philadelphia and Forrest Gump remaining the crossroad where that second chapter of Hanks’ career began. His DNA is etched firmly into Hollywood, he is one of its most powerful figures, producing projects of equal, and sometimes unexpected and quite different variety: Band of Brothers, From the Earth to the Moon, John Adams, Mamma Mia!, and others. All this puts Hanks in renaissance man territory, an overblown, over-used word sometimes but it nevertheless fits Tom Hanks like a velvet glove, even if arguably, like a lot of the peers of his generation, he hasn’t made work in the current age that stands up to his primes in his career. The force and power of Tom Hanks as a mogul in many sense of the word still remains at peak performance.
Like a modern day Jimmy Stewart in a lot of respects, the comfort and reliability of Tom Hanks in all that he pretty much does ensures a notch that gets more turned up regardless of the production he’s in. He has that rare quality to fail safe a production with at least himself, and after all these years, he still remains relatively right at the top. Hanks is a titan to the acting community, an asset to the town of Hollywood and all that it does, and an actor for the people, who he has been entertaining for almost four decades now. Staying power like that can’t ever be of the artificial kind, and the sincerity of Tom Hanks as a performer to audience is one of a kind, and always will be. Force Majeure indeed. Happy Birthday, Tom.