Tom Hanks Comedy Favourites Collection

Before he was an Oscar-winning, all-purpose leading man, Tom Hanks was one of the most ingenious comedic actors of his generation, blending heart with slapstick effortlessly and, perhaps more importantly, honestly. This triple serving of cinema doesn’t claim to offer Hanks’s best work, which is fine because it isn’t. Instead, here are three of Hanks’s edgiest performances in preposterous, PG-13-oriented storylines that hint at the dramatic range he would later prove to be so capable of. The best of the three is 1986’s The Money Pit, a ridiculous film about a young couple who are fooled into buying a cheap mansion that turns out to be the house from hell. Co-starring a game Shelley Long as Hanks’s girlfriend, the film gives him plenty of memorable physical comedy to work with, not to mention the fact that few actors can fly into as comical a rage as Hanks. Hanks falling down a collapsing staircase then getting trapped in the floor are still two of the actor’s most memorable scenes, and an interesting "making of” featurette is all the more fascinating because it’s dated yet still typical of contemporary extras. The next year, Hanks played the comic foil to Dan Aykroyd’s straight man, Joe Friday, in the star-studded, if ill-conceived, Dragnet. Featuring a funny turn from Christopher Plummer as the film’s deceptive villain, the TV show tribute is a thin crime caper vaguely dealing with censorship and a collusion of porn and the church with little wit. By 1989, Hanks was a bona fide star with hits like Big showing his appeal, while dramatic turns in Nothing in Common and Punchline drew out a substantive actor. So it’s puzzling that Hanks took on The ‘Burbs, a boring wannaB-movie that, much like obvious predecessor Neighbors, tries to discuss how uniformly bland the two-and-a-half-kids-and-a-dog suburban lifestyle is only to wuss out on the premise at the last minute. An irritating cast and a substandard story take the zeal right out of Hanks, who seems visibly disengaged in this film. It’s an odd thing to see from an actor who, otherwise, lit up almost every piece of film he was in throughout the ’80s. Plus: alternate ending to The ‘Burbs; trailers. (Universal)