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Cast Away

Cast Away is the ultimate Jenny Craig commercial.

Take one happily cushioned, overly driven Tom Hanks, toss him on an island for four years, and watch him become a slim, trim man of steel.

It's amazing what a little food and social deprivation can do to a man.

Cast Away is the latest movie that reminds us all that we love Tom Hanks. He's cute, he's cuddly, he spends over an hour of the movie talking to himself or sporting equipment, if at all. And yet, we're all incredibly enamored of him. Tom Hanks is our ideal man, and this movie fixes the one fault he had - he was getting pudgy.

He's been creeping up in weight for a few years, but it wasn't until we were graced with his triple chin in You've Got Mail that the truth became so overwhelmingly evident. But now, thanks to four years drinking coconut milk and eating crabmeat, he's once again the young, svelte hunk we all remember from Splash.

The story of Cast Away is this: Tom Hanks crashes in the middle of the ocean and washes ashore on a tiny, empty, tropical island.

Makes for a pretty short pitch, doesn't it?

The script probably has all over 20 pages of dialogue. The rest is Tom vs. the island. Will he be able to eat? Will he be able to find shelter? Will he be able to go to the bathroom and learn which plants are good for wiping? Will he learn, the hard way, which are bad for wiping?

In the end, of course, he survives long enough to lose that unwanted baby fat and become an incarnation of Hercules - strong and lean, but relatively delirious. The island is his enemy, it is his friend, it is his prison, it is his personal loony bin. He befriends a local volleyball.

As tough as Tom Hanks has it on the island, it could have been a lot more difficult if a whole squad of FedEx packages hadn't washed up onto shore, giving him everything a growing castaway needs to survive. Women's costumes, ice skates, VHS cassettes and more. I mean come on; anyone could make it alone on an island if they have the luxury to receive FedEx deliveries. How difficult is that?

There are other people in the movie - Tom does have a life that he is living before he boards that fateful flight, but I don't care about any of them, and neither should you. In the great tradition of Gilligan's Island, this one's all about what Tom, in his best impersonation of Gilligan's Professor, can whip up from the native wilderness on hand. He does OK, but I kept expecting him to build a coconut-based cell phone, or a sand and crab powered motorboat. Alas, he obviously didn't study Gillgan's Island hard enough. An exploding coconut or two would definitely have added some spice to the middle part of the movie.

Of course, the first thing anyone does when watching this type of "survival of the fittest" movie is ask, how would I have done?

I would have died after three days. Four, tops.

But not Tom. And that's why we love him. That's why we will always love him. That's why we worship him time and again, bowing down at the alter of greatness with his likeness emblazoned upon it.

The Survivor cast members are a bunch of pussies compared to Tom.

Tom Hanks for King. You heard it here first.

Cast Away picks up 3 4/5 Babylons. A good flick, especially when Tom is alone, and not trying to share the screen with lesser individuals. He should start releasing one man shows more often.

Editor's Note:

If you think that underlying man-love theme in this review is blatant, you should have read it before it came across my desk.

Cast Away
Rated: PG-13
Directed By: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Tom Hanks, some people who aren't Tom Hanks, and FedEx.

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