Tag Archives: Tom Hanks

A League of Their Own Character Review: Evelyn Gardner

*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the novel A League of Their Own. Read at your own risk if you watched the movie. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

Being a working mother is never easy. The scales between parenting and raising the next generation can seem like they will never be balanced. In A League of Their Own, Evelyn Gardner (Bitty Schram) has been forced by her husband to take their son, Stillwell (played by Justin Scheller as a child and Mark Holton as an adult) on the road with her. Evelyn is a bit of an indulgent mother, attempting to keep Stillwell from getting into trouble with multiple chocolate bars while on the bus in between games. To say that this does not go over well with her teammates is an understatement. She also allows Stillwell to taunt the team, which also gets under the skin of the rest of the women.

Evelyn is also an emotional softie who does not respond well to criticism from her coach, Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks) when she makes a poor decision on the ballfield. But that does not mean that she is weak. Evelyn has a backbone that allows her to be a trailblazer, as both a working mother and a female athlete.

To sum it up: I think we, as an audience, underestimate Evelyn. She may appear to be a softie, but underneath that softness is a will of iron that is not often associated with women from the period. The truth is that we, as women have had it all along, we just needed the opportunity to show it.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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A League of Their Own Character Review: Dottie Hinson

*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the novel A League of Their Own. Read at your own risk if you watched the movie. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

When we have a certain skill, many would assume that we would build our lives and career around the skill. But not everyone is interested in that life. In A League of Their Own, Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis) is discovered playing on a local baseball team during World War II. While waiting for her husband, Bob (Bill Pullman) to come home, she works in the family dairy with her parents and younger sister Kit Keller (Lori Petty). Convinced to try out for the AAGPBL, Dottie not only makes the team and joins the Rockford Peaches, she becomes its initial de facto leader and star. Coach Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks) is at first more into drinking his days away than supporting his players. But as good as she is, this is not something she has dreamed of. It is just a way to pass the time until Bob comes home.

As the seasons wear on and Dottie becomes one of the faces of the league, the tension between her and Kit grows. Believing that she is forever in her elder sister’s shadow, Kit starts to resent Dottie. This soon spreads to the rest of the team, nearly sending Dottie home with her newly returned husband and Kit changing teams. It finally comes to a head during the World Series, when their respective teams play opposite one another.

By the time the last pitch is thrown and the game ends, the Peaches have lost. Dottie and Kit have both moved on emotionally and resumed the relationship they had before all of this started.

To sum it up: We all have talents and we all have choices. Depending on our perspective, we can either draw on those talents or choose to go down another path. Dottie obviously has the skill, but this is not her life’s goal. I admire that. She knows what she wants and goes for it, even if someone else disagrees with that decision.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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A League of Their Own Character Review: Jimmy Dugan

*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*I apologize for the delay in posting. There is only so much writing I can do in a day.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the novel A League of Their Own. Read at your own risk if you watched the movie. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

It is easy to judge someone based on a popular image or perception. That image can only change when we are with that person or persons, hopefully forcing us to reconsider what we think we know. In A League of Their Own, Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks) is hired to coach the Rockford Peaches, one of the all-female teams within the AAGPBL. While the men are fighting for the United States in World War II, they are temporarily being replaced by their wives, sisters, and neighbors.

A former baseball player whose career has been taken over by constant drinking, Jimmy is given the opportunity to revive his reputation by taking the coaching position. His reaction is well, can only be described as chauvinistic. But then again, we have to remember what time period the film is set in (though to be completely honest, this idea is still sadly too prevalent, even in 2022). Over the course of the film, the booze is replaced by his renewed love of the game and his growing respect for his players.

That does not mean, however, that Jimmy is easy to get along with. He can sometimes be described as crass and a little short with some members of the team. He does however become close with Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis). Dottie has the talent and the drive to succeed. But she also has a husband in the army and is eager to return to normal life. Jimmy wants her to stay to the end of the season, but he knows that he cannot force her to do so. Though the Peaches don’t come out on top, Jimmy has regained his sense of self and a healthy appreciation for the women on his team.

To sum it up: the character arc from unlikeable to likable is a common one. What makes Jimmy stand out from other characters is how he changes over the course of the narrative. He goes from someone who the audience does not trust to someone we trust implicitly. He may not be as mannered or cultured as other people. But we know that he admires the players and in doing so, has transformed his life for the better.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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My Favorite Movies of 2019

Going to the movies is sometimes akin to stepping onto a roller coaster. Sometimes you love the film your seeking. Sometimes you hate it.

My favorite movies of 2019 are as follows:

  1. The Farewell: The Farewell is my favorite movie of the year because it is heartfelt, genuine and thoroughly human. In the lead role, Awkwafina proves that she can play much more than the comic relief.
  2. Avengers: Endgame: If there was a perfect way to end a film series, this film is it. Balancing both action and narrative, this thrill ride is pure perfection.
  3. Judy: Renee Zellweger is an absolute shoe-in for the Oscars as the late film icon Judy Garland. Disappearing in the role, she tells the true story of the final years of Garland’s life.
  4. Downton Abbey: Transferring a popular television show to the big screen is often easier said than done. The Downton Abbey movie is the perfect film bookend to this beloved television program.
  5. Harriet: This biopic of Harriet Tubman is nothing short of tremendous. In the lead role, Cynthia Erivo is Harriet Tubman.
  6. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: This final entry in the Skywalker saga is not perfect, but it ends with both a nod to the past and an open door to the future.
  7. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The late Fred Rogers was more than a milquetoast children’s TV host. He taught generations of children in ways that go beyond the classroom. Inhabiting the role of Mister Rogers is Tom Hanks, who reminds viewers why we loved him.
  8. Joker: In this re imagined world from that Batman universe, Joaquin Phoenix adds new layers to this iconic character while talking frankly about mental illness.
  9. The Song of Names: Based on the book of the same name, the film follows a man who is trying to discover the secrets of a missing childhood friend.
  10. Frozen II: This sequel to the mega-hit Frozen was well worth the six year wait. Instead of doing a slap-dash direct to video type sequel, the filmmakers expanded this world in new ways, making the story even more relevant.

This will be my last post for 2019. Wherever you are, thank you for reading this year. May 2020 be bright and hopeful.

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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Movie Review

When Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood went off the air in 2001, it was the end of an era in television.

The new movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, opened this weekend. Based on the 1998 Esquire article “Can You Say…Hero?” by Tom Junod, Matthew Rhys plays Lloyd Vogel, a fictional version of the real-life writer. Sent by his editor to write a profile of Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks), Lloyd is cynical and jaded. On top of his latest article, Lloyd dealing with marriage, new fatherhood and his formerly absentee father, Jerry (Chris Cooper).

I really loved this movie. I loved it because it reminded me why generations of TV viewers loved Mister Rogers. It also introduced the audience to the human side of this icon. As Mister Rogers, Hanks was perfectly cast. And I loved that this film was directed by Marielle Heller, who directed one of my favorite films from last year, Can You Ever Forgive Me? The myth that women are unable to direct successful films went out the window with this movie.

I absolutely recommend it.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is presently in theaters.

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Thoughts On A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Trailer

For many of us, our childhood memories are cocooned in three words: Mister Roger’s Neighborhood. Fred Rogers was more than a TV host, he was a friend, a confidant and a teacher, all in one.

The new movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, starring Tom Hanks and Matthew Rhys is the story of the friendship that blossomed between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod.

I have to admit that I got a little teary eyed while watching the trailer. Adulthood can bring on cynicism, disbelief in magic and the idea that childhood is just that. My hope is that this film reminds audiences of the wonderment that is childhood and the feelings that only Fred Rogers could bring out in his young viewers.

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Toy Story 4 Movie Review

When a sequel or a prequel to a beloved franchise is released, the hope is that not only will it live up to the original work, but it will expand the story.

In 1995, the original Toy Story was released. It was an instant success and revolutionized animated films. 24 years later, Toy Story 4 was released.

The 4th film in the series picks up just after the 3rd film ended. Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw), the young girl who inherited the toys is starting Kindergarten and is not feeling it. During orientation, she creates Forky (Tony Hale) and immediately adopts him as one of her toys. But Forky is not immediately convinced that he is a toy.

When Bonnie’s parents take her on a road trip before school starts, Woody (Tom Hanks), makes it his business to ensure that Forky does not escape. But inevitably, he does, separating Woody from Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and the rest of the toys. Before reuniting with the rest of the crew, Woody meets up with Bo Peep (Annie Potts), his unrequited crush who has become a bad-ass. They have to rescue Forky from the hands of potentially psychopathic Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) with the help of Duke Kaboom (Keanu Reeves).

Upon release of the trailer, some may have asked why this film was necessary. The previous film tied up the narrative strings so perfectly that this film may seem like an easy cash grab by Disney.

It’s not. It expands the narrative in new and different ways. I loved the expansion of Bo Peep as a character and the message that it sends to women and girls of any age. I also loved the narrative of coming to the realization that things and relationships change. When we come to that point, we can either stay where we are or have the courage to step into the unknown for an adventure that is not yet revealed to us.

This film has humor, has heart and speaks to both children and adults.

I absolutely recommend it.

Toy Story 4 is presently in theaters.

P.S. Stay past the initial credits. The post credit scenes are worth the wait.

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Throwback Thursday-The Terminal (2004)

For most people, airports are a place just to come and go. But it can also leave flyers stranded, trapped between where they are going to and where they were coming from.

In the 2004 movie, The Terminal, Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks) is traveling through New York’s JFK airport when he learns that the fictional Eastern European country that he calls home experiences a political revolution. His passport is no longer valid. He cannot leave the airport, nor can he fly home. The only thing he can do is make himself comfortable until he can fly home. While he is waiting for the political situation in his homeland to clear up, he makes friends with the airport employees.

What I like about this movie is that it is simply entertaining. There is no overt political message or heavy-handed theme. It is just the story of a man who is trying to make the best of a bad situation.

I recommend it.

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Flashback Friday-The Da Vinci Code (2006)

Dan Brown’s 2006 novel, The Da Vinci Code was nothing short of a bombshell when it hit book stories 12 years ago. Depending on the perspective of the reader, it was either a thriller that kept you reading, or it was blasphemous/utter nonsense.

Either way, it’s no great mystery as to why a film adaptation of the book quickly reached theaters that same year. Starring Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon and Audrey Tautou as Sophie Neveu, the characters are trying to unravel a murder mystery, while discovering clues about the murderer in the works of Leonardo da Vinci. In doing so, they are outing a secret society that has lasted for centuries and could change how Christianity is viewed should the secrets be brought into the light.

I really enjoyed this movie. I enjoyed it not only because I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, but also the religious element adds to the tension that is part of discovering who the killer is.

I recommend it.

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The Post Movie Review

Freedom of the press is one of our core freedoms. Without that freedom, our democracy is not a democracy.

The new movie, The Post, takes place in 1971. Kay Graham (Meryl Streep), is the owner/publisher of The Washington Post. The Vietnam War is raging on and the country is split down an ideological divide that looks impossible to cross. Kay is dealing with two equally troubling the issues: the newspaper’s financial issues and the fact that she is not just one of the few women in the newsroom, but one of the few women running a newspaper. The men around her are not exactly pleased to have to deal with on a professional level. Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) is her editor who is not afraid to tell the truth. After the New York Times publishes the Pentagon Papers and is called by the government for the printing, the documents get into the hands of the Washington Post. The question is, do Kay and Ben publish the papers and is freedom of the press more important than the security of the nation?

Directed by Steven Spielberg, this movie is a must see for every American citizen. It is a must see because the same arguments that the real life versions of the characters were having 46 years ago, we are still having the same arguments today. Especially with you know who in the White House. It is also a must see because without knowing it, Kay Graham was one of the women who helped to break the glass ceiling.  She is still remembered today for her contributions in the arenas of both supporting the right of a free press and for the thousands of female journalists who have careers because of her.

I absolutely recommend it.

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