Riding the Waves of Life
Release Date: December 22, 2000
Starring: Tom Hanks & Helen Hunt
Audience: Teenagers & adults
Runtime: 87 minutes
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Executive Producer: Joan Bradshaw
Producer: Steve Starkey, Tom Hanks,
Robert Zemekis, & Jack Rapke
Writer: William Broyles, Jr.
Address Comments To:Tom Rothman & Jim Gianopulos, Chairmen
Fox Filmed Entertainment
20th Century Fox Film Corp.
A division of Fox, Inc. & News Corp.
10201 West Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Tom Hanks plays Chuck Noland, who is an international troubleshooter for Federal Express. The movie opens with the delivery of a Federal Express package in Moscow that Chuck shipped to himself so that he could see how long the delivery took. He tells his Moscow team that time is everything, that they cannot be a minute late.
Then, he flies back to Memphis to see his girlfriend, Kelly. They want to spend some quality time together, but he is called immediately to Southeast Asia to deal with another Fed Ex problem.
Halfway over the Pacific Ocean, his plane is brought down by a terrible storm. Chuck is the only survivor. He reaches a small, deserted island and survives against all odds for four years. Improvising tools out of things he found in Fed Ex boxes such as ice skates and a Wilson basketball, which he turns into a totemistic friend, to whom he talks constantly.
After many harrowing experiences, even attempting suicide, he decides to get off the island at all cost. He’s been there for 1500 days, or more than four years. He even put a cross on the highest point. Miraculously, he survives a difficult journey on a wood raft, and comes back to find out that the world is not what he expected.
Tom Hanks does a superb job in the role of Chuck. Some of the minor characters, however, are slightly stilted. Furthermore, the plot does not run smoothly. There are several plot problems that are solved by a deus ex machina, such as a whale that revives him in critical moments or the Wilson totem that seems to help him create fire. Furthermore, much of the movie seems like an advertisement for Fed Ex, and one can only hope that they paid for this long commercial. The most disappointing part of the movie, however, is that it ends on an existential fatalistic note, summarized by the phrase, “what the tide can bring.” Like THE KID and FAMILY MAN, it is clear that Chuck is supposed to learn some lessons, such as Hollywood's favorite theme that there is more to life than work. Of course, there’s also more to life than no work on a desert island.
There are some slight Christian hints in the movie, but they are very slight, such as the recurring theme of angel wings and what could be construed as a cross that Chuck plants on the top of the mountain on his island. Furthermore, Chuck always makes the right decision, even rejecting adultery, but often his heart is not in it.
On the other hand, CAST AWAY is a very entertaining movie. Tom Hanks pulls off a tour de force with his solo performance. The cinematography is beautiful, and everybody ooh-ed and ah-ed about it at the screening, and the special effects are superb.
Tom Hanks does a superb job, but some of the minor characters are slightly stilted, and the plot does not run smoothly. Furthermore, much of the movie seems like an advertisement for Fed Ex. The most disappointing part of the movie, however, is that it ends on an existential fatalistic note. Like THE KID and FAMILY MAN, it is clear that Chuck is supposed to learn some lessons, such as Hollywood's favorite theme that there is more to life than work. Of course, there’s also more to life than no work on a desert island. There are some slight Christian hints in the movie, but they are very slight. On the other hand, the cinematography is beautiful, and the special effects are superb