Cast Away (DVD, 2006, Single Disc Version; Full Frame; Sensormatic)

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Cast Away: Tom Hanks loses 40 pounds on crabs & coconuts diet

Feb 3, 2001 (Updated Feb 4, 2001)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Tom Hanks. Nice island.

Cons:Bad ending.

The Bottom Line: I'm gonna start on my crabs & coconuts diet tomorrow.


After watching this, I am reminded of the more cheerful Disney version of a similar movie made in the 60s, starring Dick Van Dyke. Like van Dyke before him, Hanks gets caught in a plane crash, washes up on a tiny desert island in the South Pacific & forced to fend for himself like the contestants on an episode of Survivor. Compared to the earlier van Dyke version, Cast Away is the more realistic of the 2, given the fact that there is no Nancy Kwan, no evil Kabuna & no big native chief to tangle with. Yeah, that's right, van Dyke had it the easy way with his Girl Friday & space chimp, Floyd, unlike Hanks who was stuck on an island half the size of a football field sporting nothing more than a few coconut palms & a rocky pinnacle.

Hanks, an actor synonymous with the term versatility, delivers a solid performance as the punctuality personified Chuck Nolan, who transforms from a typical ( slightly ) overweight American male to a tanned, muscular physical specimen after 4 years on a diet of coconuts, crustaceans & fish. Helen Hunt, in a more serious role since her Mad about You days with Paul Reiser, plays Nolan's grief-stricken fiancee, Kelly. You won't be seeing too much of her though, as the title of the movie suggests.

Cast Away opens with a scene depicting Hanks' character, Nolan in a foul mood after receiving a package that's a day overdue. He then gives the lazy Russian FedEx workers a tongue-lashing worse than grandma's high-pitched nag before zipping back to Memphis in time for Christmas dinner. FedEx, not wanting to give their favorite employee a break, calls him up right after dinner with details on his next nag mission to Malaysia. Apparently, there's been a lot of slack going on at the Malaysian FedEx office, signalling the need for a good old Chuck Nolan nagfest to get their delivery schedule back on track. In no time, Chucky's back on board a FedEx jet, loaded with several tons of packages bound for Malaysia. Things go horribly wrong when Chuck's plane gets caught up in a vicious tropical storm over the South Pacific, putting it in a deadly nosedive resulting in a crash that kills off everyone except Nolan.

After drifting several days on an inflated dinghy, Chuck is washed up on a tiny desert island where he would spend the next 4 years on slimming program eating coconuts & crabs. Upon arriving on this desert island, he finds himself totally lost, with minimal resources & a bad toothache to boot. On the plus side, this has got to be one of the most beautiful islands he's ever seen, minus the beach cabins & tourists, but even that doesn't quite make up for the terrible emptiness he's about to experience during his long & miserable stay on this tropical prison. Utilizing the contents of several washed up FedEx packages, he's able to construct simple tools useful in carrying out various tasks like bashing coconuts & killing off the local crab population.

Speaking of coconuts, one flaw I noticed during the movie is that the coconuts that fell from the palms were green. I've lived in the tropics for over 15 years & I've never, not once came across a green coconut that fell on its own. Usually these green coconuts would ripen over the course of several weeks, turning into a brown, chocolate-like color before finally adhering to gravity's call. Hmm…then again this could be a new species of coconut, I wouldn't know.

Another notable flaw is that one of the FedEx packages contained a pair of ice-skates. Since the plane was bound for Malaysia, where the temp's 90 degrees all year round, I kept asking myself why would anyone want to send a pair of ice skates to a place where ice can only be found in the top part of a refrigerator?

At the halfway point, after weeks of eating the same old coconuts & yucky raw crabs, the notion of food actually tasting better after being cooked finally dawned upon our clueless Chuck, prompting a mad rush & several failed attempts at rediscovering an element known as fire. On one of these failed attempts, resulting in a bad cut, we are introduced to 'Wilson', a blood-stained volleyball that would later become Chuck's only companion during his 4 years on the island. There is a noticeable chemistry between Chuck & Wilson with most of it ( or should I say, all of it ) being a one-sided affair.

Finally, after the 4 year mark, Chuck decides to escape from his island prison by building himself a raft & using the tide's momentum to push him out to sea. Nevertheless, he makes it back home in one piece only to discover that his former fiancee has given up all hope of him being alive & is now happily married to a lowly former FedEx employee. How ironic. Like many other viewers, I did not like this part of the movie as I felt the writers shouldn't have made Kelly lose hope of Chuck, despite the 4-year wait. The movie ends on a rather questionable note with Chuck being stuck on a rural Texas road, pondering his next move in life. There's a strong indication of him ending up with Bettina, the tough, tomboy girl at the beginning of movie, but I guess that's another story.

Final ramblings:
Overall, I found this movie pretty good, in spite of the not so perfect ending. My rating for this would be 4 stars out of a possible 5. I would have given this a 5 if the writers had decided to make Kelly wait for Chuck. This would have resulted in a perfect ending ( & a helluva tear-jerker ), one that was expected by the majority of viewers.

Things you can learn from this movie:

1. Coconut milk is a natural laxative
2. You can lose 40 pounds by eating coconuts & crabs
3. You cannot break a coconut by hurling it against a wall






Recommend this product? Yes

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