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Splash
Reviewed by Joe Crowe, © 2004

Format: Movie
By:   Ron Howard (director), Lowell Ganz & Babaloo Mandel (writers)
Genre:   Comedy
Released:   1984 (film); 2004 (DVD)
Review Date:   April 29, 2004
Audience Rating:   PG
RevSF Rating:   8/10 (What Is This?)

Ah, for the glorious days of Funny Tom Hanks. "Bosom Buddies." "Bachelor Party." And "Splash."

Its DVD release is a called a "20th anniversary edition," and that makes me feel so old that I could spit my dentures.

I enjoyed "Splash" back then, but I like it more now that I get the love stuff and the joke stuff. (Mainly what I got when I first saw it at 13 was that Daryl Hannah is pretty much naked in a lot of it.)

It reminds me that I prefer Funny Tom over Serious Tom, who has dominated Hanks' work since he started winning Oscars. (I haven't seen Hanks' latest, "Ladykillers," which is supposed to be a comedy, so I don't know if Funny Tom is back or if it's just a cruel, cruel hoax.) On Letterman, or hosting "Saturday Night Live" years ago, he's a very funny, natural comedian. But that doesn't translate into any of the work he does, which is mainly gut-wrenching melodrama.

If somehow you haven't seen "Splash," then go do it. Of course, the guy gets the girl, and they swim off happily ever after. Along the way, there is great stuff from the awesome John Candy, and a sweetness to the love stuff with Hanks and Hannah that's not cloying or forced. It's a love story, but not in the sickly Meg Ryan way. Blame veteran writers Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, who reveal that they first saw Hanks on "Happy Days," when "he came to beat up Fonzie."

It's nice in retrospect to see a comedy totally without poop jokes, which seem to have really caught fire in the last few years. So to speak. John Candy and Eugene Levy are superb; they were both then fresh off "SCTV," one of my favorite TV shows of all time.

As for why I'm reviewing it on a sci-fi website, well, there's a mermaid in it. Those are speculative and fictional. This movie really gets into the physiology of the mermaid, and it talks about mermaid society, and examines how it'd really be if one existed, and --

Or not. Actually the closest to in-depth fantasy the movie gets is a distant shot of the underwater city that Madison lives in, as she and Alan swim toward it and their wet, happy ending.

"Splash" is a silly, funny comedy. Enjoy.

DVDetails

Two things: Audition tapes of Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah, and a commentary track by director Ron "Opie Cunningham" Howard and the show's producer and writers, not counting a promo piece filmed during the movie's filming.

The audition tapes are script readings with Opie. With Hanks, Opie reads the mermaid parts. He reads Madison's lines to Hanks, who acts as if Opie is the mermaid. Impressive.

In Hannah's audition, she never breaks character, and plays the naive, winsome Madison while sitting in Opie's office the same way she would go on to play her in the movie.

I would have loved to hear Hanks talk about "Splash," but I guess he's too busy being all serious. Opie and the others show signs of true professionals: They stop talking over the track to let the big jokes and the physical gags play at full volume.

The commentary reveals some fun anecdotes; how the wives of Opie and the others insisted they change the ending so that Alan and Madison stay together. They call John Candy a "comedy animal."

There are no bloopers or deleted scenes, the usual fare for DVDs. But the commentary is top-notch, from people so close to the movie, and so enthused with the craft of writing comedy. I think I learned a few things.

The movie: 8 out of 10
The DVD Extras: 7 out of 10


Joe Crowe is RevolutionSF news and humor editor. That BITCH!

 
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