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Decades later, it’s still a telling fact that one of Tom Hanks’ key breakout roles was as an overgrown kid in Penny Marshall’s Big. That’s the Tom Hanks I’ve seen on the late night shows, the one who decides to star in the video for Carly Rae Jepsen’s “I Really Like You” and lip synch much of the cheesy lyrics in the same year that he does some of his best work to date in Steven Spielberg’s undervalued Bridge of Spies. He’s still a kid in an adult’s body, but he’s become better at acting like an adult when he needs to, more able to act serious when it’s called for and discuss “adult” subject matter when asked about such things. Underneath it all though, there is an exuberance that hasn’t quit in three decades that is at the heart of why he remains one of the most bankable movie stars out there.
Mind you, this honed adult routine has not always benefitted him. When he plays the self-serious, charmless detective of Ron Howard’s astoundingly misguided Dan Brown adaptations, he feels cold, as if he’s put himself on autopilot just to get through the shooting days. And though his acting in something like Saving Mr. Banks is still dutiful and endearing in a certain way, it reveals a level of business-minded blindness in how he picks his scripts, as one needs...
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