ANN ARBOR – Thanksgiving brings with it many joyful things, not the least of which is the food and the opportunity to spend time with one's family. Equally as rewarding, yet not as well-known, is celebrating Thanksgiving by watching your favorite Tom Hanks movies, or as it is affectionately called, T. Hanksgiving.
To provide you, our loyal readers, with the best recommendations, we sought counsel from a couple of our friends at the Michigan Theater, experts in all things cinema. We sent our list of questions to Caitlin Drzewiecki, Cinetopia festival manager at the theater, and Brian Hunter, the facilities and programming manager.
"In November, with our families gathered around us, we should be thankful for so many things, but the most important thing we should be thankful for is that we live in a world where Tom Hanks was a comedic actor," Hunter said.
"The Burbs" - Hanks stars as a neighbor on the edge in this darkly satiric take on suburbia that feels like an early Coen Brothers film. As a bonus, the film is directed by the great Joe Dante ("Gremlins") and also stars Carrie Fisher and Bruce Dern.
"Turner and Hooch" - The buddy cop genre was hot in the 80s, but when cops and their K-9s started filling the screen, comedy gold was struck. Lots of great visual gags and dog-related humor can be found in what could be considered one of Hanks's earliest and best dramatic moments.
"Dragnet" - A take on the L.A. detective classic, Hanks gets to ham it up while Dan Aykroyd plays it straight. It isn’t as great as the television on which it is based, but the film’s ensemble cast is wonderful and features some great performances from Christopher Plummer as Reverend Jonathan Whirley and a surprise appearance by Harry Morgan.
"The Money Pit" - A Tom Hanks movie starring Shelley Long? You have my attention. A must-see for their Burton/Taylor-esque chemistry alone!
"Splash" - Because I wanted to be a mermaid.
"Turner and Hooch" - I love when an animal can soften the heart of a tough cop.
"A League of Their Own" - I also love when women can soften the heart of a bumbling drunk.
"Forrest Gump" - I still frequently use a fairly innocuous line from that movie, which isn’t so much so for the line itself, but for how Hanks delivered it. It's just so good and innocent when he says he got a call from a fruit company (Apple Computers) and that he does not have to worry about the money anymore. He simply says, “That’s good! One less thing.”
"You’ve Got Mail" - Modern love and Thanksgiving!
We also reached out to Ariel Wan, the Michigan Theater's director of marketing and programming, to get her T. Hanksgiving picks. She responded by saying she would choose all of them, but if she had to get specific, her choices would be "Big," "Bridge of Spies," "Cast Away," "Forrest Gump," "That Thing You Do" and "Sully."
Personally, we're happy to see that "Turner and Hooch" made two out of the three lists, as it is truly essential viewing for anyone who wants to appreciate Hanks's wide range of roles. Like the actor himself, it is simply a classic. We're thankful for many things this year, but any excuse to watch his movies is one for which we're always appreciative. He truly buts the "THanks" in Thanksgiving.
What are some of your favorite Tom Hanks movies and performances? Let us know in the comments below.