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Tag Archives: Tom Hanks

Cast Away

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Image credit: Cast Away, 2000

Isolation, survival—these are words we’ve heard a lot over the past several years. They’re words that echo in my head as the summer blues set in, and I start to forget what it’s like to walk outdoors in the middle of the day, meet a friend for a drink, or even talk to anyone outside of my immediate household. My dog may as well be named Wilson. Thus it seems appropriate to revisit the Tom Hanks classic Cast Away (Disc/Download), the movie that always reminds me that no matter how lonely or frustrated I may feel about spending June-September trapped indoors, things could be worse.

When FedEx employee Chuck Noland washes up on a remote beach in the South Pacific after a harrowing plane crash, he’s still sporting a fuzzy Fair Isle Christmas sweater and a little holiday weight. He must use whatever was in his pockets to stay alive until he’s rescued, which it turns out consists of nothing more than an antique watch, a flashlight, and one sock. Eventually some FedEx packages from the crash wash up, giving him a few more marginally useful items (VHS tapes—who knew???), as well as volleyball BFF, Wilson. The audience thinks this will be just a short stay on the isle of loneliness, until the film jumps four years into the future and Hanks is… still there. He’s slim, he’s blonde, he’s learned to catch fish and make fire, and he’s made a little cave home. He’s adapted, as we all did in the spring of 2020. The struggle is still there, but now it’s a constant buzzing in the background, instead of an intermittent roar.

Speaking of struggle, this guy has it rough. Making fire is a battle waged with calloused, bleeding hands, and don’t even get me started on the coconuts. Piña Coladas will never look the same to me. Let’s toast this castaway’s ingenuity and perseverance with a tasty Tiki cocktail, the Suffering Bastard.

Suffering Bastard

1 oz Brandy

1 oz Gin

½ oz Lime Juice

¼ oz Simple Syrup

2 dashes Angostura Bitters

4 oz Ginger Beer

Fill a glass with ice and set aside. Add more ice to a shaker, along with Brandy, Gin, lime juice, simple syrup and bitters. Shake until chilled and combined, then strain into prepared glass. Top with ginger beer and stir gently.

To look at still frames of this movie, one would think Noland has landed in paradise. But what that picture doesn’t show is the yearning he feels for his loved ones, the sadness from feeling forgotten and stuck, and the desperation that would drive a man to head into the vast ocean with nothing more than a few logs and half a Porta Potty. And of course, Wilson. Because like the Bette Midler song says, you gotta have friends. Cheers!

Catch Me If You Can

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Image Credit: Catch Me If You Can, 2002

Come fly with me, let’s fly, let’s fly away… to the glamorous world of 1960s air travel and check forgery. In this week’s film Catch Me if You Can (Disc/Download), our old pal Leo plays a teenage con artist posing as a Pan Am pilot, a doctor, and a Louisiana attorney, all before his nineteenth birthday. The actor himself was around twenty-seven during the filming of this movie, so I ask you, who’s the biggest con man here?

In this pseudo-biographical tale of Frank Abagnale, Steven Spielberg has crafted a fun cat-and-mouse caper where bedraggled FBI agent (Tom Hanks) must devote hours of time and money toward catching a brilliant young criminal with daddy issues. Ultimately, Frank’s crimes don’t really harm anyone (other than the airline CEOs and bankers, I suppose), but nevertheless, the US Government can’t just let this kid run around, hopping on jets, sleeping with flight attendants, and advising on medical emergencies with whatever training he could glean from a few Dr. Kildaire episodes. I concur—this teenage runaway’s high times should probably come to an end. But boy, it’s a fun ride until that day comes.

If you were lucky enough to travel on PanAm during the 1960s, well then, you were lucky enough. I was unfortunately not born yet, but I can still celebrate the stylish, jet-set era with this tasty cocktail. While watching Catch Me If You Can, I recommend drinking a Paper Plane.

Paper Plane

¾ oz Bourbon

¾ oz Aperol

¾ oz Amaro Nonino

¾ oz Lemon Juice

Lemon Twist

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice, and shake until chilled. Strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon.

An enjoyable movie that never lets itself get overly bogged down with the main character’s psychological trauma, this is a great pick if you just want to watch a smart guy do some mildly bad things, in a world where everyone looked amazing. And let’s not forget Tom Hanks’ Boston accent, the real MVP of this movie. It’s still working hard, long after retirement age. Cheers!

That Thing You Do!

Image Credit: That Thing You Do!, 1996

Anyone who knows me (or really anyone who’s ever read this blog) knows I have a thing for the 1960s. But where did this obsession come from? I blame the following: endless Nick at Night marathons in the ’90s, and this week’s movie, That Thing You Do! (Disc/Download).

Having been raised on the Pittsburgh oldies station in my dad’s car, I knew this era’s music inside and out. So when Tom Hanks “the director” burst onto the scene with his ode to ’60s pop, I was instantly hooked. Add to that Liv Tyler’s cigarette pants and high ponytails, Tom Everett Scott’s electronics shop wonderland (THOSE VINTAGE RADIOS!!!), and all those references to forgotten stars like Gina Lollobrigida and Suzanne Pleshette, and I was officially a goner. I’d found my pop culture home, and the mid-1960s was it. I wanted to live in this world where the One-ders could rise to superstardom on the strength of one hit song, and not flashy boy-band dance moves. This world where rock bands got to pretend-perform in movies as Capt. Geech and the Shrimp Shack Shooters. This world where jazz and rock & roll was still somewhat interconnected, and a talented musician like Guy Patterson could perform in front of screaming teenage girls one minute, and studio icons the next. Maybe, at the end of it all, I just wanted to imagine a world where I could leave Pennsylvania and follow my dreams—wearing those cigarette pants, of course.

It’s still incredibly odd to me that Tom Hanks hasn’t found more projects like this to direct, because clearly the guy’s got skills. He made a perfect gem of a movie that captures a specific moment in time, pulling together exceptionally talented people to realize his vision. Let’s celebrate this maestro of ’60s nostalgia with one of my favorite cocktails, the classic Tom Collins.

Tom Collins

2 oz Gin

1 oz lemon juice

½ oz simple syrup

Club Soda

Lemon garnish

Combine gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a shaker with ice.  Shake until chilled, then strain into a Collins glass with fresh ice. Top with Club Soda, and stir gently to combine. Garnish with lemon.

I did a thing I pretty much never do, which was to watch an unedited version of this movie one lazy Friday night. I know a lot of people enjoy Special Features and Extended Cuts, but to me, theatrical cuts exist for a reason. In most cases, it’s the best version everyone could agree on. But I got curious, wondering what was tossed from my perfect film, and WOW it was a lot. For example, poor Charlize took the biggest hit, and now that strange Spartacus line finally makes more sense. Sort of. Also- Tom Hanks’ manager character was actually gay?? That’s actually something I wish they’d left in. Aside for some great dresses that ended up on the cutting room floor, most of the edits were necessary. Would I watch the extended version again? Probably not—it was extremely long and slow-moving. But as a lesson in how all the parts have to come together in just the right way to tell the best story possible, it was invaluable. Like the difference between the Oneders vs. The Wonders, simple is usually better. Cheers!


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Image credit: Splash, 1984.

I know I’m supposed to care about modern underwater extravaganzas like Aquaman, but the truth is I’ve never gotten over my first deep-sea movie love:  Splash (Disc/Download).  Even The Little Mermaid pales in comparison to this delightful Tom Hanks/Daryl Hannah rom-com about a man who falls in love with a mermaid.  Funny and charming, with some pretty impressive fishtail effects, this film is a sea fantasy come to life.

When I was young, I totally wanted to be Daryl Hannah.  Alas, all the Morton’s salt in the world couldn’t turn my legs to scales and my hair into a soft, flowing nest of crimped perfection.  As mermaid Madison, she learns English in a single afternoon by watching daytime TV, goes on a Bloomingdale’s shopping spree, and somehow learns how to ice skate despite the fact that she’s never seen ice before.  Plus, she makes the wise decision early on to fall for Tom Hanks.  He’s the kind of guy who offers to get her a hotel room, even after she’s slept with him, because he knows their afternoon delight DOESN’T AUTOMATICALLY OBLIGATE HER TO DO MORE.  He’s the kind of guy who keeps fish tanks in every room because he’s never gotten over the mermaid who saved him as a little boy.  And he’s the kind of guy who will give up a lifetime of John Candy’s jokes for his one true love.  This man is a keeper.

Speaking of John Candy, he plays Hanks’ off-color, sleazy brother with a schlubby, good-hearted charm.  Sure he’s a walking sexual harassment lawsuit, but he also dispenses wisdom like, “Drinking is a matter of algebraic ratio.  It’s not that you had too much to drink; it’s that you’re too skinny.”  SO TRUE.  While watching Splash, capture the flavor of the ocean with some Himalayan Salt shot glasses, and this tasty cocktail:


2 oz Citron Vodka

1 oz Orange Liqueur

1 oz Lime Juice

Lime Wedge

Combine vodka, orange liqueur, and lime juice in a shaker with ice.  Shake until chilled, then pour into Himalayan Salt glasses.  Garnish with a lime wedge.

saltwater shots

Rumor has it this film is being remade with a gender swap, but I’ll always love the original because it celebrates a mermaid who doesn’t have to change herself to fit into a man’s world.  Her world is pretty awesome already, and if a guy wants to be with her, he’s just going to have to hang out underwater and kiss her constantly for the rest of his life.  Now THAT’S a happily ever after.  Cheers!

The Money Pit

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money pit

Image credit: The Money Pit, 1986

As I embark on my first major home renovation, one image keeps streaming through my head- Tom Hanks, clinging desperately to a staircase, as his house collapses around him. Granted, my project is just a simple kitchen, but it’s still shocking how quickly even the smallest project can become like The Money Pit (DVD/Download). Budget? Double it. Time? Double it. Sanity? Kiss it goodbye.

I was lucky to find a house that didn’t need a lot of initial work when I moved in eight years ago, unlike Tom Hanks and Shelley Long in The Money Pit. They land a bargain on an enormous mansion, only to find that it needs a staggering amount of renovation. Costs spiral as their relationship implodes, and this funny 80’s slapstick comedy becomes a cautionary tale of home ownership. It’s no wonder Shelley Long is basically drunk throughout this process -my own bar is also heavily stocked! Maybe then I won’t care when workers show up late (if at all), or when my house is enveloped in a cloud of dust, or when my savings account dwindles before my eyes. Enough martinis and you can survive anything.

As anyone who’s ever done a home renovation can tell you, the contractor is king.  Actually, he’s like a mythical creature who you pay enormous sums of money to, before waiting around hopelessly for an encore appearance.  The Shirk Bros. embody this archetype perfectly, and that name- spot on.  In ode to their musical tastes, while watching The Money Pit I recommend drinking an I Gotta Bee Me Martini.

I Gotta Bee Me Martini

4 oz vodka

1 oz lemon juice

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon warm water

Combine honey and warm water in a cocktail shaker and stir it until the honey is dissolved. Add vodka, lemon juice, and ice and shake vigorously until chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Bee Martini

This cocktail seems easy enough for me to make while I’m held hostage in another part of the house for a week (or two, or three- we’ll see). Luckily I have a partner who’s in this all the way with me; someone who won’t accuse me of seducing an ex to pay for a new oven. After all, he knows I hate to cook. Cheers!


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Image credit:  Big, 1988

Image credit: Big, 1988

This past weekend my husband and I decided to throw a children’s party for all of our adult friends. I was inspired by an ingenious episode of Difficult People wherein two friends turn a Manhattan bistro into a haven for adults who still enjoy eating like they’re five years old (see “The Children’s Menu”). I love this… so much. Why should kids be the only ones who get to eat pizza bagels and macaroni and cheese? Why can’t I have my PB&J and a cocktail too? Why does it have to be either/or?

A movie that fully embraces this concept of celebrating the kid in all of us is the Tom Hanks classic Big (DVD/Download). I consider this to be essential viewing within the Golden Age of Hanks, when this comedic genius actually made comedies. After You’ve Got Mail the man pretty much went down a Spielberg rabbit hole and never told a joke in cinema again. But back in the late 80’s, he was just a child, trapped in a man’s body, let loose on the streets of New York. After watching this movie, I’m pretty sure every kid in America aspired to one day have an enormous Manhattan loft with a trampoline and bunkbeds. I know I did. And come on, working for a toy company? Coolest job ever!!!! It saddens me to see the iconic piano scene with Robert Loggia in FAO Schwarz now that the toy store has closed its New York flagship. I remember when my mother took us as children, and I was too shy to get on the piano keys. Ah, regret.

I had to consult an essential book in my cocktail library this week, Kiddie Cocktails. Being married to a non-drinker, I’m always on the hunt for interesting virgin beverages. What I love about this book is that they have wonderful non-alcoholic recipes, which I can easily spike for myself. It’s a win-win for our household. While watching Big, I recommend drinking a Zoltar Zinger*.

Zoltar Zinger

8 oz ginger ale

1.5 oz vodka (optional)

¼ oz grenadine

½ oz lemon juice

4 dashes Angostura bitters

Build drink in a highball glass over ice, topping with ginger ale and stirring gently.

*adapted from a recipe for “The Chomp”, pg 45

Zoltar Zinger

I may have grown up and developed a taste for hard liquor, but gastronomically I never aged beyond seven. Maybe that’s why I’ve always loved Big so much. Tom Hanks is stuck in a world of uptight grown-ups, but he still just does his own thing and eats his baby corn like he’s at a 4th of July barbecue. And people kind of love him for it. So for all the healthy adults out there who want to serve me marinated Brussels sprouts or cauliflower steaks, thanks but no thanks. I’ll be over here in the corner with a plain cheese sandwich and a smile on my face. Cheers!

Top 5 Drunken Movie Performances

This was a really hard list to make.  I had so many great scenes to pick from.  When you think about it, cinema is just filled with actors and actresses stumbling around, slurring their words, and eating greasy diner food.  Here, I’ve chosen my personal favorite drunken performances over the years.  To the list!

1) Jimmy Stewart as Macauley Conner in The Philadelphia Story

Image credit MGM, 1940, The Philadelphia Story

Image credit MGM, 1940, The Philadelphia Story

Hands down, my favorite drunken performance. His speech is slurred just enough, the hiccuping is perfection, and Cary Grant can barely contain his laughter during their memorable scene together. Oscar-worthy indeed. Oh C.K. Dexter Haaaven!


2) Kristen Wiig as Annie Walker in Bridesmaids

Image credit Universal Pictures, 2011, Bridesmaids

Image credit Universal Pictures, 2011, Bridesmaids

Taking a fear of flying to new levels, a drunk Kristen Wiig stumbles through the first class cabin, argues with “Stove” the flight attendant, and poses as Mrs. Iglesias.


3)  Tom Hanks as Jimmy Dugan in A League of Their Own

Image credit Columbia Pictures, 1992, A League of Their Own

Image credit Columbia Pictures, 1992, A League of Their Own

He comes out, he smiles, he waves his little hat, and he urinates for an incredibly long time.


4)  Dudley Moore as Arthur Bach in Arthur

Image Credit Orion Pictures, 1981, Arthur

Image Credit Orion Pictures, 1981, Arthur

Drunk becomes super-classy with a British accent and a manservant.


5)  Vince Vaughn as Trent in Swingers

Image credit Miramax Films, 1996, Swingers

Image credit Miramax Films, 1996, Swingers

Because you’re growns up and you’re growns up and you’re growns up.


(Feel free to sound off in the comments below about some of your favorite picks!)

Saving Mr. Banks

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Image Credit Walt Disney Pictures, Saving Mr. Banks, 2013

Image Credit Walt Disney Pictures, Saving Mr. Banks, 2013

Pop quiz- what film seamlessly merges a favorite childhood movie with the style and jet-set look of Mad Men? Answer: Saving Mr. Banks (DVD/Download). This was one of my favorite films of 2013, and it’s my personal opinion that Emma Thompson was robbed by not getting an Academy Award nomination- ROBBED. Since it’s maybe a little weird to be pairing a cocktail with a kid’s movie (though Disney World is selling alcohol in the Magic Kingdom now), I’ll forgo my fantasies of getting drunk and singing along with Burt the chimney sweep in favor of a cocktail pairing with a more adult movie about the making of Mary Poppins (DVD/Download). Showbiz movies are my favorite Netflix niche genre, and this particular film is one of the greats.

Saving Mr. Banks offers a behind-the-scenes look at the process of bringing Mary Poppins to the big screen. Based on the books by P.L. Travers, this was a property highly coveted by Mr. Disney, and highly protected by the author. She finally agreed to consider selling him the rights to the stories, only after making sure she had script approval. So, the cranky Englishwoman journeys to Los Angeles circa 1961 and wreaks havoc on the smiley, giddy, happy-to-be-alive Disney employees working on the film. Tom Hanks does a fine job of playing Walt Disney, and particular kudos go to B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman for playing the Sherman brothers, who wrote the music and lyrics for so many classic Disney songs. Hearing the songs I know so well being crafted in Saving Mr. Banks gives me a new appreciation for the artistry behind them, and I give credit to these men for strengthening my childhood vocabulary with words like fiduciary and precocious. The movie veers off periodically to discuss Travers’ childhood trauma and how Mary Poppins came to be, and yes Colin Farrell is magnetic as her father, but it’s the adult scenes with Emma Thompson where the movie really shines. I laughed, I cried, I wanted to get up and dance to “Let’s Go Fly a Kite”. I call that a cinematic success.

My cocktail today references the medicinal flavor-of-choice for Mary Poppins. As she says, a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, and while this drink is never actually consumed in Saving Mr. Banks, I couldn’t help referencing that wonderful scene in the original film. Thus, when you’re watching Saving Mr. Banks, follow Mary Poppins’ lead and drink some Rrrrrum Punch.

Rrrrrum Punch

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

1/2 cup grenadine syrup

1 cup white rum

½ cup dark rum

1 cup pineapple juice

1 cup orange juice

1 pinch nutmeg

Orange slice

Mix all ingredients together in a pitcher, punch bowl, or bottle. Chill in the refrigerator at least an hour before serving over ice. Garnish with nutmeg and orange slice.


I’m not sure what kind of “medicine” this is, but it does certainly make me happy to drink it. Even if Saving Mr. Banks was really just one big Disney propaganda film to make you want to go out and buy Mary Poppins and visit Disneyland, all I can say is- sign me up! Walt Disney had a knack for making people see the magic in our world, and I think he would have been pleased with this film- for even though we’re seeing the real story behind the magic, it doesn’t make it any less delightful. Cheers!


You’ve Got Mail

Photo credit: Warner Bros, 1998

Photo credit: Warner Bros, 1998

Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan week comes to a close with my personal favorite of their collaborations, You’ve Got Mail. Based on the wonderful Jimmy Stewart film The Shop Around the Corner, this film replaces the letters of olden days with emails and instant messaging. Back when this film was released, AOL instant messaging was new and trendy, though now it seems quaint (in the same way we look back curiously on party lines and wonder- what were they thinking?). Of course now, texting and Facebook have replaced instant messaging, but back in the day this was cutting edge dating technology. Whether or not you look at this film and laugh at that old AOL email alert declaring “You’ve Got Mail!” or yearn for the days when people could get to know each other without seeing photos and your entire life story flashed upon your Facebook page, the chemistry between Hanks and Ryan and the witty Nora Ephron script make this movie definitely worth watching.

In this film, Tom Hanks’s character Joe Fox meets cute with Meg Ryan’s character Kathleen Kelly when his large Barnes & Noble-esque book store opens in New York City and threatens to drive her small independent children’s book store out of business. They become fast enemies in person, but little do they know, they’ve already fallen for each other online after meeting in a chat room (now THERE’S a blast from the past) and exchanging emails. I’ve come to love everything about this movie- the beautiful shots of New York’s West Village, Meg Ryan’s adorable haircut, Tom Hanks’ dog Brinkley, and lines like, “I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.” It’s classic Nora Ephron, and I love watching as she both romanticizes and satirizes the life of the upper class intellectual New Yorker.

For my cocktail pairing, I’m making a festive, holiday-appropriate drink that I think captures the feistiness and sweetness of Kathleen Kelly. This is a great way to use up some of that leftover cranberry juice or cranberries from your holiday gatherings, and very easy to make (for those of you who are totally over measuring and mixing and dirtying your kitchen).

The Shopgirl Spritz

1.5 oz gin

1 oz cranberry juice

1 oz lime juice

.5 oz simple syrup

Club Soda

Fresh Cranberries for garnish

Fill a collins glass with crushed ice, pour in the gin, cranberry, and lime juices and stir well. Top with Club Soda and cranberries.

I like to imagine Kathleen Kelly would drink this while listening to Joni Mitchell and reading Pride and Prejudice for the one millionth time. Or maybe that’s just what I want to do. At any rate, if this is the last movie that Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan ever make together, at least they went out on a high note. I’ll always laugh as Tom Hanks flirts with the cashier at Zabar’s, and get misty when Meg Ryan says tearfully, “I wanted it to be you so bad.” Watch it with a box of Kleenex (and a drink). Cheers!

Sleepless in Seattle

Photo by TriStar Pictures

Photo by TriStar Pictures

Today, I’m helping my mother celebrate her birthday by providing a cocktail pairing for one of her favorite movies, Sleepless in Seattle. It really doesn’t get much more romantic, or much more 90’s than this movie. What I love about this particular Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan combo is that we get to see the two sides of Tom Hanks- the dramatic (lonely, grieving widower) and the comedic (a single father trying to re-enter the dating scene). After this film, Hanks would begin his string of dramatic roles that would win him his much-deserved Oscars (Philadelphia, Forrest Gump, etc.), so it’s with that in mind that I relish the opportunity to see him debate drinks vs. dinner with his young son, get misty over the end of The Dirty Dozen, and fidget helplessly on a first date. And yet, his speech to “Dr. Marcia” about coping with the loss of his wife, and remembering to “breathe in and out every morning” always makes me a little misty.

Sleepless in Seattle tells the story of Annie (played by Meg Ryan) and Sam (played by Tom Hanks). Sam is recently widowed, and Annie is engaged to be married to dorky, allergic-to-everything Walter (hilariously portrayed by Bill Pullman). She hears Sam telling his story to a call-in radio psychiatrist one night, and is inexplicably drawn to him. She writes a letter, throws it out, her friend sends it anyway, asking Sam to meet her at the top of the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day. The film borrows heavily from An Affair to Remember, and really it turns into a celebration of all romance movies, so-called “chick flicks”.  Sleepless in Seattle can get a little cheesy at times, but it’s got heart.

Midway through the film, Tom Hanks is schooled in the ways of modern dating by his friend, played by Rob Reiner. He’s told that his future date will want tiramisu. In reference to this, and to Seattle’s booming coffee culture, I’m preparing a coffee-inspired drink.

Tom’s Tiramisu Martini

2 oz White Chocolate Godiva Liqueur

1 oz Patron XO Coffee Liqueur

1 oz Vanilla Vodka

Chocolate syrup, cocoa powder, instant espresso powder

Mix alcohol ingredients in a cocktail shaker over ice. Swirl chocolate syrup around a martini glass. Pour cocktail into prepped glass, and sprinkle cocoa powder and espresso powder on top.


Sleepless in Seattle is really the comfort food of movies. I know many people will be sitting down to eat their mashed potatoes and stuffing on Thanksgiving (myself included), and I suggest popping in this film after you’ve gorged yourself and need to rest on the couch. Instead of coffee with your pie, pour yourself this tiramisu martini and watch the magic happen. Because if you haven’t figured it out by now, when Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan get together, it is definitely magic. Cheers!