Newest Review: ... Big which was very funny. Tom Hanks who was the star of Big also stars in this comedy film, he plays Alan Bauer who is a businessman runn... more
By the Sea
Member Name: Jake Speed
Advantages: Charming, funny
Disadvantages: A bit long
Splash is a 1984 fantasy comedy directed by Ron Howard and and written by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel. The film stars, amongst others, Tom Hanks, Daryl Hannah, John Candy, and Eugene Levy and won an Oscar nomination for its screenplay. In the film, Hanks plays Allen Bauer, a workaholic who runs the family produce business in New York with his more carefree older brother Freddie (Candy). A flashback at the beginning of the film reveals that, as a small boy, Allen jumped into the sea from a boat during a family holiday in Cape Cod, despite not being able to swim, after spotting something in the water. Underwater, he briefly met a young girl who duly saved him from drowning before he was pulled to the surface by his family. The instant connection he felt in that moment - which he comes to believe was a hallucination of some sort - has blighted his relationships ever since but, years later, Allen returns to Cape Cod to clear his head after a girlfriend dumps him and suffers a boating accident. The unconscious Allen is again about to drown before help arrives in the shapely form of Daryl Hannah, wearing the same necklace as the girl he met all those years before. The eccentric mystery woman eventually tracks him down to New York via a wallet he dropped where they begin a seemingly perfect relationship with only one slight complication - unknown to Allen, his new girlfriend is a real life mermaid...
A minor classic, Splash is a charming and often very funny film that is lifted up an extra notch by the likeable and entertaining cast, especially a young Tom Hanks in his always enjoyable eighties comedy mode and the much missed John Candy. Despite the slightly weird 'high' concept this is a delightfully good natured and pleasant film that hasn't, with the possible exception of some of Daryl Hannah's Dynasty style shoulder pad outfits and a few cheesy bits of music, dated appreciably and is still a lot of fun. Another plus is the unobtrusive direction which wisely allows the actors to take centre stage. The flashback sequence at the beginning of the film is quite arresting (and poignant) and once into the present day, or 1984 at any rate, Hanks and Candy immediately make a winning onscreen pair and give the film a lot of energy.
The film is consistently amusing right from the start with a funny scene early in the film where Allen is an usher at a wedding and is constantly asked about the girlfriend who has left him. "She left me!" snaps Hanks eventually. "She moved out and my life's a shambles, all right? That's the news, you want the weather? Anywhere but the first three rows!" Hanks does the high speed manic exasperation thing really well. I like too the scene where Allen is drunk at the bar later and Freddie comes over to take care of him. "You see," says Candy. "Drinking is a matter of algebraic ratio. How drunk you get is caused by the amount of alcohol you consume in relation to your total body weight. You see my point? It's not that you had too much to drink. You're just too skinny." Although Freddie is Allen's older brother, he doesn't take life too seriously and is more interested in writing letters to Penthouse Magazine - "They published my letter! Here it is; A lesbian no more!" - than running their business. Candy is perfectly cast as the slobbish and not very serious Freddie.
Splash has some lovely sequences by the sea and on the water but also has plenty of enjoyable location work in New York when Daryl Hannah's 'Madison' (taken from Madison Avenue) goes in search of Allen. Madison makes a memorable entrance into the city when she comes ashore (sans flippers, Madison can 'sprout' legs when dry) naked by the Statue of Liberty. "The Statue is a gift from French citizens and has come to symbolize hope for naked women everywhere," says a distracted tour guide to his group. It's a completely alien world to Madison who is entranced by everything she sees, eventually picking up bits of English by watching television (Allen finds her crying at an episode of Bonanza!) and copying exercise programmes. Hannah is endearingly inquisitive and strange in these scenes.
The section with Allen and Madison together in New York is a lot of fun. I love the moment where the nervous Hanks accidently flips a spoon into the wall by some nearby diners as he and Madison sit in a restaurant and Daryl Hannah has a memorable moment too where she ravenously eats a lobster with her hands, much to the embarrassment of Allen. "She's very hungry," he says sheepishly to the next table. There is also the famous scene where Madison takes a bath and has to dry off incredibly quickly when Allen tries to get in. Complications eventually arise from Allen's increasing curiosity about where exactly the eccentric Madison has come from and Eugene Levy, who has his share of good moments as the nutty and accident prone marine biologist Dr Kornbluth. Kornbluth is obsessed with proving that mermaids are real and seeks to unmask Madison throughout the film, leading to some good comic moments. "I'm really a nice man," says Kornbluth. "If I had friends you could ask them."
The final third of the film introduces more familiar elements like action scenes and chases into the mix but it does give John Candy some great moments as Allen's more streetwise brother. Candy is very funy at times as the slobbish Freddie, especially a classic scene where he plays squash with Hanks. Dody Goodman also has a scene stealing part as as Mrs Stimler, Allen's's dotty secretary. "Oh, your father called," says Mrs Stimler. "He wants you to call him." Informed patiently by Hanks that his father died several years ago, Mrs Stimler replies "Do you want me to call him back?"
The real star of the film though is Tom Hanks who is quite charismatic and very funny. I can take or leave the later 'worthy' Tom Hanks, but the eighties Tom Hanks was a very funny onscreen presence in my opinion with a nice ability to do physical comedy. Hanks and Candy are a funny team but Daryl Hannah also holds her own and brings an appealing wide-eyed innocence to the role of Madison. If I had one criticism of the film though it would be that it is perhaps a tad too long for what is essentially a simple premise.
Overall, Splash is still a lot of fun with some charming and funny moments. My copy of this has four 'Special Features'. There is an enjoyable audio commentary featuring a nostalgic Ron Howard and others chatting about the film and a pleasant documentary called 'Making a Splash'. In addition the DVD also includes the original screentests, or 'auditions', of Tom Hanks (looking alarmingly youthful) and Daryl Hannah.
Summary: Enjoyable eighties comedy