Classic Movie Review: Splash (1984)

Posted: August 21, 2016 in Comedy, Romance
Tags: , , ,

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When Allen Bauer (Tom Hanks, David Kreps) was 8 years old, he fell into the water during a family trip to Cape Cod.  Just before he was rescued, he thought he saw a girl in the water, but he chalked it up to his imagination.  Twenty years later Allen is unhappy.  Allen runs a produce company with his brother Freddie (John Candy, Jason Late) but has just broken up with his girlfriend Victoria, and he tells Freddie that he wants to go back to Cape Cod, because he always feels better there.  The trip to Cape Cod does not go well for Allen.  Again, he falls off a boat, blacks out, and wakes up on a deserted island, where a mysterious girl kisses him, and swims away.

A scientist named Dr. Kornbluth (Eugene Levy) is also on Cape Cod, looking for a scientific discovery that will shake up the worlds of biology and zoology.  He thinks he has found what he is looking for but can’t get photographic evidence of his discovery.  Back in New York, Allen is back to being depressed, but the same girl who saved Allen in Cape Cod is in New York, and has Allen’s wallet.  Allen picks her up from the police station, without knowing her name, or anything about her, and they spend the night together.  The next morning, while Allen goes to work, the mystery girl goes to Bloomingdales, gets a new wardrobe and learns English in a day, from watching television.  She tells Allen her name in her language and shatters the tv’s in the electronics department.  She finally settles on and English name, Madison (Daryl Hannah) and she tells Allen that she can only stay with her for 6 days.  They go out on a couple of dates, and Allen knows Madison is hiding something from him, but thinks it’s an immigration issue, he even proposes marriage, which Madison politely declines.

Dr. Kornbluth follows Madison to New York intent on proving his theory, but failing at every turn.  After a while apart from Allen, Madison decides to accept his marriage proposal, and tell him her secret, but she never gets the chance.  What is Madison’s secret?  Will it ruin her relationship with Allen if the truth comes out?

Why am I watching Splash 32 years after its release, and why do I think it’s a classic movie?  One, it’s funny, with Hanks teamed with Eugene Levy and John Candy, there are plenty of laughs in this movie.  Two, its romance is sweet.  Allen is a man looking for love and he finds it, just not the way he expects. True, at first the love story seems more like one based on physical attraction, but there are enough grand gestures to make the love story realistic enough.  At the end of the film, Allen has to make a really difficult choice, and the ending helps make this a great movie.  Three, it captures Tom Hanks in his first big budget movie, before Big, Toy Story, Forrest Gump, and the many blockbusters that made him a bankable superstar.   Four, there’s going to be a remake soon, I bet it won’t be as good.

Hanks was still someone green when he made this movie, opting for loud pronouncements of humor, rather than being subtle, but still shows the sweet sensitivity that made him a superstar.  It is well worth watching him here.  This is undoubtedly Daryl Hannah’s best film, she gives Madison both a sweetness and simplicity that is very appealing.  She also learns that falling in love is difficult, and watching Madison’s heartbreak is difficult, Hannah makes the heartbreak believable.  John Candy also gives a great performance, he is wildly funny, but he also have a few lines about love that ring true, and he delivers them well.  Eugene Levy is also wonderful in this film, he is cast as the bad guy, but shows such great range that by the end of  the film, the viewer actually feels empathy for his character.

This is one of Ron Howard’s early directorial films, he gets some picturesque shots of New York, keeps Madison’s secret under wraps for as long as possible.  He gets great performances from Hanks, Hannah, Candy, and Levy and paces the film well, so it never drags.

Splash:  Mer-made for romantics.

 

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